On Getting Married and Missing Out on the College Experience

A girl from our school’s student magazine came by our apartment the other day to talk about our marriage. She wanted to know, among other things, whether we felt we’d missed out on the College Experience by getting married as undergrads.

She didn’t capitalize College Experience, of course. She was speaking out loud.

Our cat finished college before we did.

We were amused at being placed under the microscope like this because, truth be told, we’re not interesting people. We enjoy playing Chinese checkers, watching VHS tapes and going to bed early.

But because we took the plunge before crossing the stage, we are something of a novelty. The last I heard, we’re going to be featured in the magazine’s Valentine’s issue in a story about campus couples, alongside a homosexual couple and an interracial couple. We live in South Carolina; I guarantee our relationship has not faced as much adversity as either of theirs.

As for the College Experience, maybe we have missed out on a few things. As we discussed in the interview, that really depends on how you define the term.

In the strictest sense, the academic sense, nothing was unusual about our first married semester. We continued taking full course loads, and I pulled a 4.0. We were both working part-time jobs and sending out résumés. I even had room in my schedule for one of those largely impractical but intellectually stimulating classes you always picture yourself taking in college: Spanish film!

So I can speak intelligently about Pedro Almodóvar now, and my wife is a few steps closer to passing her final nursing exam. If that’s what the College Experience means to you, then no, we’re not missing out.

If the reporter’s question referred to the College Experience in the—ahem—extracurricular sense, then I guess we are indeed missing out. But then again, we never did buy into the National Lampoon vision of college.

Then there’s the other sense of the College Experience, in which you and your classmates challenge each other’s notions and push each other to greatness. Having grown up in a football town, I sometimes fantasized that my college years would be spent in coffee shops and bookstores with a lively cadre of philosophy majors and radical political organizers. On a few occasions, I have found myself in such company.

Do I miss out on that by being married? Sometimes.

Truth be told, I’ve had less and less of that type of College Experience as my four years of college have gone by. Nothing is quite like that kaleidoscopic freshman dorm experience, with a Marxist two doors down and an impromptu bluegrass band in the basement. I lost some of that just by moving off campus.

Nowadays, my wife and I do get invited to the occasional house show or art exhibit. But we’re less likely to go. And I’m a lot less likely to stay up late with my friends talking about the Big Questions when I’ve got a wife waiting at home.

We’ve made our decision, though, and we’re content. These past two days in Columbia, snow has kept the school closed, and I’ve been trapped in the apartment with a throbbing headache and a sore throat. We pulled our mattress into the living room to lie down and watch the sleet coat the trees while we took turns reading aloud from a Roald Dahl anthology.

I don’t know about her, but I was sure glad to be married.

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About Paul Bowers

I'm learning.
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6 Responses to On Getting Married and Missing Out on the College Experience

  1. Tas says:

    I always love reading your entries Paul, I’d love to read more! Glad we could inspire you to answer a question we can’t help but wonder, and glad that you are content. It’s nice to know that even at a young age being happy, and satisfied, with life is possible.

  2. akeelah says:

    I so thoroughly enjoy reading this blog, paul. Good writing. Good insight. And I usually get a chuckle or two out of it!

  3. Jovena says:

    Hey, I know you haven’t done a post in quite some time but I was still hoping you could help a little. Would it be a smart idea to marry in my freshmen year of college? Not financially stable, but completely sure that we want to be together for the rest of our lives. Would it be smarter to wait a little until we save up enough money? How did you guys start off (meaning, telling your parents, Finding a place to live, etc.) Maybe it’s a little different because I reside in New York City, but the issue is still the same. I’d be grateful if you could help! Thank you guys!

  4. I stumbled on to your blog when researching getting married while still in college. I am getting married next month two weeks before starting my senior year. I have been ever so worried about getting married before graduating. I just wanted to let you know that your blog entry actually help. It is good to know that there are happy married college students out there!

  5. KF says:

    I just came across your blog and I can’t get enough! My husband and I dated all through college and i graduated a semester early so we could get married — he went to school 2 hours away and we too didn’t want to wait a minute longer than necessary to begin a life together. I in no way will ever regret getting married at 21 and I hope you don’t either! Even while we were engaged in college, the “College Experience” (ie partying and drinking) was never something we were interested in, and I’m glad you were able to share that with the reporter from your school.

  6. click here says:

    Have you considered adding some differing opinions to your article? I think it will really enhance everyones understanding.

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