infrequent posts about happenings in my life

about joah

19 and engaged

As of December 8, 2015, I am engaged to be married to Haley Higgins. Haley and I are both 19 years old. Because we’re both so young, I’ve had many people telling me already “why get married now? wait and make sure this is what you really want to do” and “you’re going to be a totally different person in a few years — just wait until then” and “you need to be spending your young years having fun, not locking yourself into a long-term relationship”. This is my response to those people, and a blueprint for people following in my footsteps.

why get married at all?

Ever since I was young(er), I have wanted to get married. I’ve cried at every wedding I’ve been to for the past 7 years, because marriage is such a beautiful institution created by God. God created marriage as a depiction of Christ and His bride, the Church. Paul talks about this in Ephesians 5, verses 22 through 33:

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

As you can see, the relationship between a husband and his wife is supposed to mirror the relationship of Christ and His Church. Wives are to submit to their husbands, as the Church submits to Christ, and husbands are to love their wives, and wash them with the water of the Word, as Christ does the same for the Church. Since I’ve understood what that means, I have wanted to be a part of that as well, as part of my further sanctification as a follower of Christ.

Not every person is called to be married, though. There are some that God has set apart for other purposes, as Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 7:32-40:

I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.

We are all called to follow the Lord, whether we get married, or not. Marriage is a beautiful depiction of Christ and His Church.  A man and a woman, coming together, in order that they may be able to serve the Lord better. That’s what marriage is about.

why get married now?

This question is the one I get asked the most, or, in more cases, not asked at all, and not given the opportunity to explain. There are multiple reasons that society thinks that people shouldn’t get married young, most of which, I listed above. I’m not going to address each of those specifically. Honestly, from a Christian perspective, it seems obvious that (1) yes, I want to get married at some point, (2) no, I don’t want to just run around while I’m young and have a bunch of premarital sex — that breaks the 7th commandment, (3) yes, I want to get married now, and not later, and this is why:

At the beginning of this year (2015), I approached Haley’s father, and asked if I could begin courting her. Haley and I have known each other since I was 13, and she was 14 — and we became best friends within months of knowing each other. I have been “romantically interested” in Haley basically since I met her, and her dad was aware of that, so it wasn’t at all of a surprise when I approached him at the beginning of the year. His desire for his daughters, regardless of who they marry, is that the period in which they are courting/engaged is as short as possible, so that they aren’t tempted to do things they shouldn’t do outside of marriage. So, when I first started talking to him, he wanted to make sure I was able to handle a short courtship, and be ready to marry her (if the Lord didn’t say otherwise) within a reasonably short amount of time.

At first, I wasn’t. I wasn’t sure what I didn’t know, but I knew I didn’t know everything I knew in order to be ready for marriage. Over the next few (several) months, I met with Haley’s parents every two to three weeks, reviewing progress, figuring out what I needed to focus on next, asking questions, etc.. They had me do exercises, such as:

Since you will treat your wife as you treat your mother, for the next 30 days, do something nice/meaningful for your mom every day, without telling her what you’re doing.

I failed that one the first couple times I tried it. I ended up doing it for about 70 days before I could do it every day without forgetting to do it one day, and having to start over.

I spent the first 7 months of this year being purposeful to prepare myself for marriage. I did the exercises that Haley’s parents gave me, I read books, and had meaningful discussions with men in my church about marriage preparation, and I saved as much money as I was able, in order to have a solid down payment for a house.

In July, I asked for my dad’s blessing to enter into a courtship with Haley. His response was that I would never know everything I need to know about marriage — but I’d made a good amount of progress in the months leading up to that, and there were some things that I just wouldn’t learn until I was married. With his blessing, I asked to meet with both of Haley’s parents and asked if I could enter into a courtship with Haley. Following that, it was about two weeks until we started courting officially.

On July 21 of this year, Haley, her parents, and me, and my parents met at an Italian restaurant to establish the boundaries and intent of our courtship. We set up some initial rules:

  1. No physical interaction. While courting, we were not to touch each other at all. Especially for men, physical relationships are much easier to handle than emotional and spiritual relationships. That’s how we are as human. But, since our intention in all of our relationship is to be purposeful, we decided that there would be no physical interaction at all.
  2. No private communication. All of our communication, whether in person, or otherwise, was to be available for anyone to observe, so we didn’t do anything that we shouldn’t outside of marriage.
  3. Everything should be purposeful, in some way. This one was probably the hardest to follow, because it’s way more fun to go see a movie, than to do a Bible study together. The intention, though, was to make us think about everything we do together as preparation for being married — and treat it as such. With the exception of one group outing, we didn’t go see movies together during our courtship. We didn’t go to the fair, or the carnival — we were purposeful (more on that later).
  4. Everything should be chaperoned. Along with #2, no matter where we were, what we were doing, where we were going, or what we were talking about, we were always to have a chaperone with us — whether that be our parents, or a 12 year-old sibling.
  5. No Labels. I wasn’t to call Haley my girlfriend, or she call me her boyfriend. We weren’t to say that we were dating (or even courting, without a clear definition). Different people, from different situations have different definitions of different labels. To be sure we weren’t making anyone think anything that wasn’t true about us, we didn’t use conventional labels to describe our relationship.

With the rules in place, we began courting. We screwed up frequently. We made mistakes. But there was, and continues to be, mercy and grace through our struggles.

We went on several group dates, which included our siblings

We spent the next months doing Bible studies together (such as studying the attributes of Godly men/women), doing Book studies together (such as Singleness, Marriage, and the Will of God), and growing closer to each other in the context of our respective families.

I kept saving money, and focusing on personal growth, Haley continued learning what she needed to learn to be a good wife, mother, housekeeper, and helpmeet, all while juggling our respective jobs, our courtship, and our families. I grew closer to her family, she grew closer to my family, and both of us grew closer to the Lord.

drawn by Haley’s sister, Sophia

Knowing I wanted to proceed with our relationship soon, I went ahead and purchased Haley’s ring from Kay Jewelers in November 2015.

I bought Haley's ring in November

On December 1, again, with my dad’s blessing, I met with Haley’s father and I asked if I could marry her, and then I met again with both of her parents two days later, and he gave me his blessing to proceed. I asked Haley to marry me on December 8, 2015.

This year alone, Haley and I have grown a lot together, and through that, we’ve grown closer. Reality is, we’re not ever going to be completely prepared for the challenges of marriage. Even knowing that, though, Haley knows me better than any other human on earth. I couldn’t imagine marrying anyone else, because I’m committed wholeheartedly to Haley.

People have mentioned to me that I should wait a few more years, because I’m going to grow into a completely different person in next few years to come, and Haley might not be the best for the 3-years-in-the-future me. In short, if Haley and I are both seeking to grow closer to the Lord, then we will grow closer to each other as well, and never apart.

That’s why I want to get married now. I want to grow with Haley. I want to get to know Haley better than I have ever been able to not living with her. I want to move on with my life, and begin the new chapter of husbandship. I want to love my wife.

Haley and I screw up. We are far from perfect. We are sinners, just like everyone else, and we need grace and mercy every single day.

Our relationship is the first of its nature in either of our families, so we are the guinea pigs that our parents are practicing on, to hopefully be even more purposeful, and more intentional with the next son or daughter that wants to get married.