Why I Chose a Startup Marriage

I’ve been reading about “startup” and “merger” marriages in the news a lot lately after Charles Murray’s Wall Street Journal article on the topic. First, let me explain the difference between the two. Did you and your spouse get married as you were in your 20s, building your careers, sharing finances, purchasing your first home together, and establishing yourself as independent “grownups”? If you answered “yes” to those questions, you’re probably in a startup marriage.

On the other hand, if you were in your 30s, established in your career and personal life, and well on your way to success when you walked down the aisle, you are probably part of a merger marriage.

I think that both types of marriages have the potential to create a lifetime of happiness, but I’d never change my startup marriage. We get to struggle through our first mortgage payment, encourage each other as we choose a career, and grow into our adult selves with the influence of the other. Sure, there’s most likely a higher risk of growing apart, but I think that can happen during any stage of your life, and your marriage.collage

I will admit—I was pretty independent when I met my husband. I was busy working on a political campaign, I was living in Boston, I had wonderful friends, and I knew where I wanted to be in five years. I wasn’t the doe-eyed girl that the term “startup marriage” might conjure.

At the same time, my husband was working towards becoming more independent. He didn’t quite have a five-year plan, and I don’t think marriage was even on his radar. I’m not even sure he thought further ahead than the next round of beer pong (sorry honey!).

We were able to learn from each other during this crucial period of changes, opportunities, failures, and uncertainty, and one of the most rewarding parts of our relationship thus far has been helping each other figure it out.

So far in our first year of marriage and our four years together, we’ve struggled through establishing of our own new family unit, rescuing a puppy, renovating a house, quitting a job (and losing half our household income), and a dozen other “firsts.”

But watching my husband and I evolve into our own family, leaning on each other along the way, has been the most exciting way to start a marriage that I can imagine. Plus, we don’t worry about “mine” and “yours”—we didn’t have anything to speak of when we bought our house, and everything since then has only been “ours.”

A few posts ago, I mentioned our one step to a happy marriage—being the more loving one. I think it’s easier to be the more loving one when you’ve lucky enough to have the hopeful naivete that comes from a wedding at 23.

I was almost a part of a merger. No, I wasn’t engaged to an established 30-something year old, but I think I was close to becoming the 30-something single career woman.

When I would dream about my future, it usually included a glossy office with a view, a three-letter title of some kind, and perfectly-coiffed hairdo. It almost never included the family to match. Even during college, I focused more on working than on schoolwork, anticipating moving away after graduation to pursue a career in politics.

That would have been the easy way out. Instead, I jumped into this relationship feet-first, realizing that it is a hell of a lot easier to find the right job than it is to find the right husband. I took the right risk, my career is doing just fine, and I’m so thankful that, at 24, we’re not jaded, our biological clocks aren’t ticking, and we get to stumble and fumble our way through our 20s together.