Dear Adults who like to give my daughter advice about dating and/or marriage,
As you may know, every person is different. In other words, what works (or does not work) for one person may not (or may) work for another. And cultural norms do not make something right or wrong.
Standard advice in our culture seems to be to wait until after college to get married. I understand that many young people are simply not ready to make that kind of decision before they're through college. I want you to understand that some are. And telling them to wait when they already know they belong together can be damaging, too. It creates this dynamic of uncertainty, of not really being able to rely on that relationship quite yet as a solid, steady thing. It gives them a feeling of walking along the edge of a cliff all the time. A state of limbo. Ambiguity. Not-knowingness. And then they spend their energy wondering where the relationship is going, rather than just living life together and getting their education.
Now, some young people will claim that they've found the "right one" when they really know nothing about who the right person would be or what they actually really want. Some people think they've found their soulmate when they haven't really even found their own soul. I'm not talking about those people. I'm talking about the rare and beautiful circumstances when two young people are sure, clearheaded, self-aware, mature, and able to make a commitment of the marriage magnitude.
What I want you to know about my daughter is that you don't really know which category she falls in. You don't know how she's been handling relationships or her education. But I do. I can tell you that she has been thoughtful, and she has worked hard. I can tell you that she has the ability to focus, not only on school & her boyfriend, but also on family, friends, volunteer work, and preparing for college.
When you tell her to wait until she's finished with college you're telling her either one of two things. Maybe you're telling her to keep on dating but not to get married. If that's the case, you're telling her to continue with the high stress & high maintenance that a dating relationship requires without the stability and trust that comes of a committed marriage relationship. Remember, we've already talked about maturity and whatnot. Assuming that she's mature enough to make this kind of decision, you're telling her NOT to make the very decision that would loosen some of the tension in her life and create a place of security. Yes, I know that marriage is hard work. I promise you that dating (or even courting) is more.
OR, maybe you're telling her that relationships take too much time and effort while she's in college and she should walk away from this one. I can't begin to tell you how disrespectful that is...of her choices and the work that she's already done to build this relationship. You're also telling her to let go of something very promising, perhaps the most precious gift she will ever receive in her lifetime...not knowing whether that gift will come back to her when she's through with college or not.
And, honestly, though I value education, I value people more. Vespera's Novio has been her novio for more than 2 years, and they have both worked for this relationship. Neither of them are disposable. They are not something for you to wave aside with a sweeping statement about the importance of education and of waiting for serious relationships until the end of college. They didn't go looking for this kind of relationship. It came to them. And this is where they are...at the very beginning of their college careers, fighting the cultural norms and the sweeping generalizations about young love.
Your encouragement, respect and support would be appreciated.