The mother of one of my son’s friends recently asked what my son was up to these days. Her daughter and my son were in the same high school crowd, but have since gone their separate ways. Both recently graduated from college.
“Tom just got married,” I told her.
“At 22? That’ll never last,” she scoffed. “He’s way too young.”
My own excellent manners prevented me from telling her just how rude this remark was. Apparently, she took my silence for encouragement.
“Fifty percent of marriages end in divorce,” she said, almost gleefully.
“Actually, the odds are even worse than that,” I told her. “I read that just 15 percent of marriages entered into by people under the age of 25 endure. But Tom and Amy can beat those odds. They’re both remarkable people.”
She snickered. “If you say so.”
“So what’s your daughter up to? I asked.
Turns out that she was living with her parents, baking cookies, watching reality TV, and trying to figure out what to do with her life.
And this mom was disparaging my kid’s life choices? Tom is independent, happy, and in love. He and his wife have good jobs, even in this crazy economy. Had they asked, I probably would have advised them to wait a few years before getting hitched. But my son didn’t ask me. He told me, expecting me to whoop with joy and wish them the best. And I did.
You get a wide range of responses when you tell folks that your 22-year-old son is getting hitched. Not all of them are welcome.
“Is she pregnant?” more than one person asked.
Again, having been raised to be polite, I refrained from responding, “And exactly what makes you think that’s any of your bleeping business?”
My favorite responses, of course, were from all the folks who told me they’d married young and enjoy wonderful, long-lasting unions. Happily, there are more of them than I’d have thought.
“They’ll grow together,” one woman assured me.
“As long as neither of them expects the other one to stay exactly the same,” a woman approaching her own 50th wedding anniversary told me, “they’ll be just fine.”
Then there are the clowns.
“Married already?” one of Tom’s old teachers said. “That kid always was an overachiever.”
“They’ll have plenty of time to get married a couple more times,” joked one old codger.
Here’s a tip: If you can’t bring yourself to be supportive, a simple “I wish them the best!” will do. If you have doubts, please keep them to yourself. I don’t need to hear that getting married at 22 was the biggest mistake you ever made. Even if it’s true. (Especially if it’s true.)
I waited until I was 34 to get married, and I still married Mr. Wrong. Had I married the guy I was crazy about when I was 22, would we still be together? Would we be happy? Who knows?
Am I sorry I waited to marry? How could I be? If I’d done anything else, I wouldn’t have my son.
There’s no way to know for certain how anyone’s marriage will turn out. I raised my son to make good choices, and so far he has. The kids are in love. Why not get married? Somebody has to live happily ever after. Why not my son and his bride?
This essay was originally published on Women’s Voices for Change.
Roz Warren is a humor writer whose work appears in The Funny Times, The Christian Science Monitor, HumorTimes.com, Newsworks.org, The Utne Reader and Beatniks from Space.