From Tweens to Thirty – Marrying Young and Growing Old

In so many ways, marrying young is beautiful, but it can only stay beautiful if there’s an intentional emphasis placed on the covenant we share.

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I was 11 when our eyes met for the first time and my heart fluttered. What the heck? I was 11!!!! My heart didn’t flutter. My awkward bangs were stabbing me in the eye, my crooked teeth were scared to smile, and my hormones were whack! The fact that my daughter will be 11 in 18 months reminds me of how insanely crazy I was to “fall in love” at that age. But as crazy as it sounds, I met my husband at 11, and we started “dating” (going to the movies with our parents and walking around the mall with friends) about a year later. And we’ve walked this life together since.

My husband and I married at 18 and 19. I missed my high school graduation to go on my honeymoon. At the time, I thought I was the coolest girl in school. We had no idea what was coming; we were just happy to be together.

It didn’t take long at all for reality to hit us. I was pregnant the very next year with our first daughter, and suddenly, we were married teenagers with a baby! Over the next eight years, three more kids followed, along with heartache, loss, success, failure, moves, disappointment, struggle, extreme financial strain, etc. And through it all, we had to choose each other. It wasn’t easy, but we’ve managed to do it for 11 years now, and these are the important things I would share with anyone who married young and may be having a rough go at it.

Love Yourself – Whoa! Was that a typo? Did I mean to say “love each other”? Nope! That’ll come, but if I could go back and tell little 18-year-old me anything, it would be LOVE WHO YOU ARE. The truth is I thought I did love who I was until I realized I was different as a wife, then as a mom, and as a writer, etc. I was constantly evolving, yet trying to make sure I was who he fell in love with. Impossible.

I later learned that he attempted the same. There was a crippling fear that we could “grow apart” if we changed too much. The truth is the more we loved ourselves and allowed our true identities to be discovered, the more attractive and confident we became (which only improved our love for each other). No one can give out of an empty place, so our self-love had to grow immensely.

Accept and Adapt – This is a go-to motto for me. We do not get to choose everything about our lives. Most of life “happens to us,” and we can either allow it to drive us apart or we can accept it and adapt together. For example, my husband has been laid off a couple of times in the last decade. The first time, I panicked and threatened him (honestly makes me look like a jerk, sorry). I was convinced that nagging him to death would help him find a new job and make him more successful. That plan failed, in case you thought I was a genius. So I learned that accepting where we are in every circumstance and adapting to our new seasons together actually makes us a lot more successful.

The next time he got laid off, he was in tears and I was the one saying, “We’re going to be just fine because we’re in this together.” He thought I was high, but I had just learned that fighting unexpected changes while divided wasn’t a winning combination. I would also say that accepting and adapting to new interests, desires, and personality characteristics in your spouse is also vital. Once you’re able to let your own self change (and love it), the next step is allowing grace for your spouse to do the same.

Remember Who You Married –  By this I mean remember that you chose your spouse and your spouse is the one person who will likely be by your side the longest. Kids are born into our families for us to nurture, nourish, mature, and release. But for some reason, demanding kids and family needs seem to gradually reign above our marriage on the priority ladder. It isn’t fair to you to have to spend the years after your kids leave trying to piece yourselves back together. I struggled with this way more than my husband in those early years of becoming a mama bear. I took so much pride in motherhood that I almost forgot who I married. And if it isn’t kids, it’s other friends or your employer/employees, etc. Prioritize married life over everything.

Evaluate – You don’t know where you are until you intentionally find out. We could never have survived marrying so young without constantly evaluating our marriage. We usually put a huge emphasis on this during our anniversary every year (and whenever we’re feeling disconnected or ‘off’). We ask simple questions to open major discussions that keep us on our toes. “What am I doing really well?’ “What have I done that you didn’t like very much?” “How do you know that I love and care for you?” “What would make you feel more connected to me?” And so on until we feel like we’ve got enough feedback to go on until the next time. Evaluate and communicate before it’s too late. We were not great at this when we were younger because we were terrified of being too honest.

Growing older together hasn’t been the easiest. From not having enough money to buy diapers for our first kid to not even knowing who we really are, we’ve had to push through. In so many ways, marrying young is beautiful (less time for baggage, residue from past relationships, etc.), but it can only stay beautiful if there’s an intentional emphasis placed on the covenant we share.

Life has written a beautiful love story for me, and I intend to keep it that way!


Did you marry young? What has been your experience? What were the highs and lows? What advice can you share? I’d love to hear from you!




This is an updated edition of a post originally published on

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About the Author

Kassi Russell is a wife and mom by day, and a writer by night (and in the car, or at soccer games). Kassi is originally from Greenville, SC where she and her husband met in middle school and have been married for 11 years. Her passion for writing blossomed in Atlanta, GA where her four children (ages 8, 6, 2 and 1) completed their tribe. She is currently writing a series of children's books and blogging. Along with writing she enjoys music and arts, the great outdoors, and well-written movies.

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