3 Things getting Married Young makes me Self-Conscious About:

1. I’m worried everyone thinks I am pregnant

If I got a dollar every time someone asked me if I am/was pregnant, I would have like 25 dollars.

Last week I was out with a friend who also lives in Tokyo; her fiancé is Japanese. Over coffee, I complained how I was sick and tired of that question. She just laughed.

Later, while we were hanging out near Shinjuku station, a guy from Morocco walked up and started chatting with us (mostly complaining about his Japanese wife). He asked our ages; both of us dropped the “I’m engaged” and/or “I’m married” bomb pretty quickly, just in case he was trying to hit on us. She said she was 24 (true) and I lied and said I was 24 (not true).

He did a double-take and was like “Married? At 24? Are you pregnant? Do you have any children?”

My friend cracked up and teased me about it later. I wasn’t joking. I’ve had the old lady who runs an Udon shop I love ask, strangers on the train ask, and our landlady asks.

couple pics romantic amwf

Sure enough, nine months after our wedding, I posted something on Facebook like “all y’all who thought I only got married because I was pregnant, pay up!” as a joke. What I wasn’t expecting was the sheer number of people who commented saying things like “hahaha, actually, I was expecting like 8 months later, you would have a kid.”

I get really self-conscious that people think the only reason I got married so young was because I was pregnant. There’s nothing wrong with getting married because of a surprise baby – but assuming that’s the ONLY reason a young couple would get married is a bit weird, right?

2. We didn’t just “wing it;” we knew what we were doing

In the months leading up to the wedding (and right after) I got the question “why the rush?” a lot.

Why not just wait another couple of years until we are both financially and economically secure enough to make such a life-changing decision? We got married when we did because we love each other. Your relationship changes after marriage. It’s difficult to explain, but we felt like we needed to take this step to keep progressing.

couple pics romantic amwf  hakone

Before we even got engaged we already decided I would graduate a semester early and move to Japan to be with him. He would work full-time the first couple months while I did job-hunting and blogging. If my blog “took off” and started making more than $500 a month, I could quit (or postpone) job hunting and blog full-time.

If it didn’t, I needed to find a “real job.”

Marriage was the next logical step. Believe me when I say we agonized about the decision for months before he even proposed. We thought this thing through.

So it hurts when strangers just kind of assume we jumped into it without bothering to think through the consequences.

3. I’m not sabotaging my career plans

I was lucky enough to get the Boren Award from the US Government. It paid for my entire study abroad experience in Japan. It also opened up a lot of doors in US Government jobs. I can apply non competitively for government jobs now (this is a really good things).

But then I got married and moved to Japan.

Many very well-informed and caring people informed me that this was an unwise decision for my career. There are significantly less US government jobs in Japan than in America – and I’m competing with a group of people for a handful of very specific and selective spots.

All of this is true, there is no denying that.

However, I also think that as a foreigner in Japan, I have access to a group of jobs that American students in the States do not have access to. Or at least I have access to experiences that I would have missed if I had stayed in the states.

For instance, blogging, comics, and Youtube videos. I blog, draw comics, and make videos about living in Japan, about my intercultural marriage, and about being foreign. Those are topics I can’t really cover living in the US.

Honestly, I thought all this out. I promise you, even if it seems like this is a step-back for my career (grad school, jobs, internships), I promise you that I am finding a way to make myself a unique candidate in Japan. And even if I wasn’t, there are quite a few things that are more important than having a “good career.”

couple pics romantic amwf  roppongi date

Marriage doesn’t have to get in the way of your “career.” If anything, I have become more ambitious having my husband as my number one cheerleader and biggest fan.


Basically what I’m trying to say is if you happen to meet a couple that got married at the age of 18, 21, or even 24, don’t automatically assume they rushed into it because of a surprise pregnancy or a lack of forethought. And even if they did, you don’t have a right to judge.

Everyone is allowed to follow the path they think will make them the happiest – even if it’s not the path that most people take.

couple pics romantic amwf  hakone

About Grace Buchele Mineta

I got into the writing business by accident. Now I live in the countryside near Tokyo with my husband, Ryosuke, where I draw comics, blog, and make videos about our daily life. Contact: Website | More Posts

52 Comments on 3 Things getting Married Young makes me Self-Conscious About:

  1. I loved this post! I am not married but I am engaged (and young), there are many things I understand the way you explained them and wish more people would understand. But mostly the whole “no judging” thing was right on spot!
    And this is 100% true of myself: “Marriage doesn’t have to get in the way of your “career.” If anything, I have become more ambitious having my husband as my number one cheerleader and biggest fan.” truer words had never been spoken! o(>o<)b

  2. Rebecca Stephan // 16 June, 2015 at 6:38 am //

    I love your blog :) interracial marriages are the best! that’s how I was born! My mother is Japanese, and pops is American.

    Anyway, I understand how you feel about people thinking you were pregnant before you got married. SO MANY people thought that about me because I got married at 19. Four years later,we’re going strong, and no babies haha!

  3. That’s the reason I hate streets and public transport. There is always one or another crowfaced womanizer in those places this days.

  4. Oh yes, the “are you pregnant” questions. I received plenty of those. I’ve been married for about 3.5 years now and I’m turning 24 in a handful of months. But I also got the “when are you having children” questions now that we have been married for “so long.” I live in the southern US so marrying young is seen as normal most of the time. I have 5+ fiends who have more than 1 child. I’m not ready nor is my husband. Culture plays a lot into the views on marriage and children but, regardless, it is very personal. I commend you on your marriage and wish you both happiness!

  5. Excellent post! I can so relate. I got married to my husband at age 25. We met when I was 20…I can’t believe I even waited so long! Even when I was only 20, I was so committed. Love is real <3

  6. “Everyone is allowed to follow the path they think will make them the happiest – even if it’s not the path that most people take.”

    You’re so quotable! This is how I feel about my career path, or the form it is/will be taking. I’ve worked so hard, and finally landed a job offer at a top Japanese company. The pay, however, is like many Japanese companies…it’s so low, compared to “what I could make here” in the US. (Something people here are quick to say after I answer their “how much?” Q’s). But honestly, I want to take the path that makes me the most happy. And for the perceptible future, that is in Japan. I will be making the move early next year and closing the distance with my boyfriend, all in one stop.

    Until then, your blog keeps me strong man! Thank you :)

  7. Thea Baldo // 14 January, 2015 at 9:53 pm //

    Hi. I can totally relate to this article of yours Miss Grace. I’m in my last year in college and am not married yet, but my boyfriend and I are somewhat already planning things out about marriage and settling down. We’re pretty young (me turning 20 and he 21) but I don’t think there’s nothing wrong about us wanting to marry at a young age. Like you mentioned, we both know what we’re doing. So it also irritates me when my friends and even my family think of our plans as ridiculous and absurd. Oh well.

  8. 34 yrs ago, I got married and still am…you go, Grace

  9. I totally get that! I’m on the other end of the stick though Grace…
    ‘You’ve been together how long? When are you going to get married and make an honest woman out of her?’ (Waited ten years;)

    “I’m sorry, did I ask your f’ing opinion? Why no, I didn’t! Why don’t you worry about losing a hundred pounds and spend your time trying to figure out why your husband is cheating on you instead of harassing me?”

    Heh. Needless to say I’m not overly shy about dealing with jerks. Everybody seems to think they know better than you do, have a better way to do it and tell you about it while gossiping behind your back, lol. In EVERY case when someone offers an opinion on my life I can see huge, glaring holes in theirs. Ironically the people who have their lives in order and are happy never seem to have an opinion on mine, they’re too busy taking care of theirs ;)

  10. Happy new year! (Gasp, I’m back on the internet! ^^;)

    Great post, and I think a lot of people have made some excellent comments. People will *always* have something to say about things. You’re too young/too old/going too fast/going to slow. I think people forget that they are not the two people actually *in* the relationship and can only judge from arbitrary facts they see on the outside, like age, ethnicity etc.

    The idea of a norm is a pile of horse poo, anyway. Cultural norms are *guidelines* to help people make good decisionsーbut the fact of the matter is the same decision that is good for someone may be bad for someone else. And that’s okay! (Just keep your opinions to yourself!) ;)

    • Happy New Year! Welcome back to the internet (hahahaha, hopefully everything is exactly where you left it).

      I think the idea of the norm is pretty much a pile of horse poo too :)

  11. I think what (universal) you have to realize is that no matter what you do, people are going to comment. Youre too young to get married. You better hurry up and get married. Oh you are too old now, you’ll never find a good husband. You should have kids, they’re great! No, don’t do it–they’ll destroy your marriage!

    Gah–whatever! People just open their mouths without thinking. And I also think people have certain expectations about how life should be played out and if you in any way vary from that script, it totally freaks them out!

    Anyways, you can do everything “right” and still end up unhappy or with your life eventually in shambles. Better to just make your own decisions and see where life take you.

    • Pretttttyyyy much. I completely agree with your point: “you can do everything “right” and still end up unhappy or with your life eventually in shambles. Better to just make your own decisions and see where life take you.”

  12. Maybe it’s just me being 22 and not married, but I don’t see how getting married young is an unwise (or wise, really) financial decision, unless you jump immediately into the traditional “one person stays home and does the housework and the other has a job” thing. I mean, you get to pay rent for one place instead of two, and I can’t think of anything negative except for the price of a wedding, but that’ll happen anyway. So that’s like, one financial point for and zero against :D I think the people who think it’s unwise must also be the people thinking you’re going to get to babymaking right away, which as you clearly know is where the real financial drain comes from XD

    TL;DR: How does getting married young even affect your financial lives if you’re not having kids?

    • Right? That’s what I thought too. Both of us still work and get to pool our resources. I have NO idea why people think it was “sabotaging my career.” Grrrr.

      TL;DR – People like to be involved in other’s business, even when they don’t know all the facts :)

  13. Its normal to get married at this age in my country. Most of my friends and relatives got married when they were young. My point is as long as i find my partner why should i wait.

  14. Great post Grace! It’s so true :) A career will never make you as happy as love! Nothing could never make us happier than real love… it should take precedence in our life-long projects… also, why just living together if you can hold in your arms your beloved for the rest of your life? We shouldn’t settle for anything less than real happiness!!! I hope with all my heart to share your destiny and get married young just like you did… and face the future hand in hand with ‘him’!!! if we truly love each other, two promises become one paradise :)

    P.s. I hope with my whole heart that one day you and Ryosuke will have babies! You’d be a lovely parents couple! :D

  15. Shingo Nakatani // 13 January, 2015 at 12:52 am //

    I think automatic assumption or stereo typing should be avoided for almost everything. As long as people concerned are happy, that is most important and other people should not put their own judgement.

    Yes, it might be considered young in modern Japan/USA, but in one generation ago in Japan, it is not common in Japan to get married after a lady graduate junior college (短大). This means after/around age of 20.

    There is old expression/joke (rough translation) in Japan. “A girl’s marriage is like Christmas Cake. A Boy’s marriage is like Toshikoshi-Soba 年越しそば). This is probably not PC (Politically Correct), but it’s just a joke…

    Hope your marriage will be forever happy one. That’s most important.


    P.S. So you do not have any problem with upgrade from Boyfriend 5.0 to Husband 1.0 and well as no problem for Ryosuke (Upgrade Girlfriend 7.0 to Wife 1.0) (If any of person reading this last bit needs helping hand to understand, you can check http://www.al6400.com/blog/2007/03/24/husband-1-0-and-wife-1-0-joke/ or similar website…)

    • Hahahaha, I haven’t seen that before, but that’s hilarious.

      Thankfully, Ryosuke and I act pretty much the same after marriage. We still go on dates, go shopping, and take plenty of vacations. Neither of us wanted to be the kind of people that suddenly “change” after marriage.

  16. I will say this, Grace: You’re a very pretty brunette, married to a handsome Japanese man, and you will have BEAUTIFUL children!

    I’m Japanese-American and married to a cute petite blonde woman. If we have any daughters, and they take after my wife, they will be beautiful!

  17. I did not get married and had a child before I turned 21, so…

  18. Hi Grace, most of my friends got a child within two years after their marriage. This is probably true for many places, so you will have to deal with these questions. That is the easy part, it becomes imho more tricky when the family expects you to be pregnant, especially the Japanese part. But you know that certainly better.
    As for your career I imagine you slashed your longterm opportunities by five or so if staying in Japan. As a woman over 30 – sorry for the harsh words – it won’t be the place to be. Japan is one of the last politically correct places in the modern world. I am sad saying those words as I like Japan as a foreigner (living outside Japan) but I also face the real issues. But maybe you can find a good job for the years to come and will live with Ryosuke abroad later. Good luck to both of you.

  19. Wow!! I got the same Boren award and did the same–married a Japanese citizen now living in Japan starting to wonder what I’m gonna do about that…I keep telling myself the same things you say but I have only a few months until my service agreement deadline…we might end up paying it all back><

    We get the most flak for getting married while my husband was still a student…never mind that I had a full-time job, and that he had a naitei (job offer) the year we got engaged, and started the job right after we came back from the honeymoon…in Japan the normal pattern is for men to have a few years of a "real job" under their belt before getting married. The fact that we're young, that I'm foreign, is not so surprising to the Japanese we know as is the fact that we were gakusei kekkon–student marriage haha! And yep I think a lot of people figured it must have been because I was pregnant…nope, it was just the right timing for us. We purposely got married before his job started because we wanted a long honeymoon and didn't want the bother of finagling with a typical Japanese company for time off, or doing any of the annoying social niceties "shakaijin" (full-time workers) have to do when they get married in Japan–like inviting your boss and coworkers to the wedding and doing it all in the proper Japanese style! Nope so not us, haha:P

    • Oh no~ I hope y’all don’t have to pay it all back!

      I’ve been looking at job hunting sites for months, trying to find someone I qualify for. I can’t move back to the states and I don’t speak Japanese well enough (N1 from JLPT) to get a job at the embassy here. Ahhhhh~
      Freaking out.
      Oh well.

      Ryosuke and I got married before he started working too, so we could get a long honeymoon. Hahahaha, it’s like the same. Thankfully, he graduated a semester “late” (ish), so he had a semester off to do whatever he wanted (go to America, get married, have an awesome 2 month honeymoon) before he started working.

  20. Well to be fair the majority of marriages that begin in one’s early 20s are doomed to failure. Your’s is probably the exception. But people are seriously rude asking about pregnancy, tell them your body is not their business.

  21. Compared to you both my wife and I were late bloomers when it comes to marriage as we were 25 back then.
    I always thought it was a pretty normal age as many people I know we’re already married in our age or even had kids howler now here in Germany I realized that it is not that true. So far every single colleague was surprised to hear that I was already married and then have a child with my 27 years of age. I mean, most of my colleagues are in their late thirties and don’t even think of getting married yet as they want to enjoy life more, don’t want to destroy their career and so on….the ones who are married and are about to have their first child (my two bosses, one’s wife just got twins, the others turn is in February) are both in their mid 40s!)

    My wife and I married because we loved each other, we didn’t care about our financial situation either. Back then she was working full time and I was still busy with my studies for a while and had zero income.

  22. I love this post! I got married at 22-going-on-23. (My sister got married at 19-going-on-20.) Young doesn’t mean stupid. It’s amazing how many people don’t realize this.

    My husband asked me if I wanted to marry him after 3 months of dating. It wasn’t an official proposal, he waited until we were ready to PLAN the wedding for that, but still. I lost most of my friends who thought I had lost my mind by saying yes. It was my 21st birthday. He was my first real boyfriend. Shouldn’t I try the other ‘fish in the sea’ first?

    The thing is… we’d known each other since we were 14. He asked me out when he met me in 9th grade. I told him no, because I just wanted to be friends. I told him no all 4 years of high school. It wasn’t until we went our separate ways and met again by chance after high school that I realized I had been trying to make every guy I met live up to him. And that was impossible. We were together 3 months before it was clear as day to us both that we didn’t want anyone else.

    It was another 8 1/2 months before he got down on one knee and we started the planning stages. Another 11 months before we were married. We weren’t in a rush, but there was no reason to postpone the decision that it was more than ‘just dating’.

    Now we’ve been married 4 1/2 years!

    Try not to let the naysayers bring you down too much. Someone will always have an opinion and you will rarely live up to it. Just work on living up to what YOU want.

    (By the way, I never actually had the problems with people thinking we were pregnant – I guess we took long enough planning the wedding – but now that I just turned 27 EVERYONE AND THEIR DOG wants to know why we don’t have kids yet. It doesn’t end. Everyone else wants to run your life, or at the very least they think they know your life better than you. Silly people.)

    By the way, very long time reader (and happy owner of your first book). Thanks for all you do on here. You’re one of my favorite blogs to read every week!

    • Anonymous // 12 January, 2015 at 4:17 pm //

      Your story made me tear up a little bit, that’s a beautiful story, Good Luck with your marriage, may whatever you believe in bless you and thanks for sharing your story!!

    • Hahaha, wow. I’ve only been married a year and people are already asking about babies. Wow. Can’t imagine answering that question for years~

  23. No matter what other people think about your relationship, you’ve made informed decisions about your relationship and your future and I think that’s all that really matters in the end. I’m happy that you found someone who makes you happy! And in a few years, people will stop talking about how young you are to be married anyways ^^

  24. You can just remind them that their grandparents used to get married at 16 or 18, so 24 is definitely old enough ;)

  25. My fiancé and I are also pretty young to be getting married (I’ll be 24, and he’ll be 26), so I definitely understand why people ask “why the rush”! I think it’s just that our generation married much later now. Relationships take a back seat to personal goals a lot of the times.

  26. The impressions I’m getting from what I keep reading around (not just here) is that many people seem to think that the only purpose of marriage is to have babies… (OK, I’m probably exaggerating but why do people keep putting so much emphasis on telling others to have babies?)

    Also is it me or are the timestamps in the comments using Japanese timezone?

  27. I’m 20 and just got married this past October, so I really understand the thought process of deciding to get married at a young age, and YES it is difficult to explain. When people ask me if I have a boyfriend and I reply with “I’m married” I can see the look on their face as somewhat judgmental even if they might not mean to.
    My husband and I decided to get married for a handful of reasons.
    #1- because we know we love each other unconditionally and want to build a life together~ it just felt right.
    Another reason is because my husband is in the Army, and if he were to get moved to a different location with his status as single (meaning not married) then the army will most likely insist on keeping him on-post in the barracks, basically leaving me to fend for myself here in Texas, while he moves somewhere else and we would no longer be able to live together. Whereas with a marital status, he is able to either live off-post, or I can live on-post with him.
    So those were the two main reasons we decided to get married.
    I guess I could try to explain it that way when people ask me why, but more often than not I simply say “Because it felt right” or “because we wanted to” and leave them to make their own deductions. Because no matter what, people are going to make their own assumptions and opinions about your life, and the best you can do is keep your answers short and sweet~

  28. I just got a whole lot of self confidence and happiness through this post- thank you!

    I’m currently 19 (20 in a few months), and my boyfriend of just under 2 years proposed to me last summer (in front of the castle at Disneyland… does that sound familiar? ;) Haha!)

    We waited til we got back from our trip to tell our relatives, and they were happy for us, but felt the need to question why it happened, and also HAD to make sure we were still going to finish university, get a job and be completely and utterly independent before we even thought of actually having the wedding. Not just them, but everyone says this- they have to satisfy themselves that we’re still going to do all the education stuff before they congratulate us and share our happiness, theoretically.

    Since when does getting engaged dull your ideas of being excited about studying something you love and having a career? It drives me insane that people think we’re going to become reckless and frivolous just because of our engagement… we understand we’re young, but having such a sour attitude almost makes it feel like we shouldn’t have told anyone. We thought our decision through for a long time before going forward with our plans, and of course we have it all thought out for our future together, too.

    Not only that, but I also get the pregnancy comments, and perhaps even more rude… “I bet that’s not a real diamond, no way he could afford that”. Really? I’m not the sort of person who cares about material things, but yes it is real, and he paid for it believe it or not…

    Wow, rant over I guess, this post just brought back a lot of stuff… thank you so much for putting some of my frustrations into words and making us feel better about our decision :) You are awesome! I never tire of reading your blog, you’re such a talented writer and artist!

    Much love from the United Kingdom, and best wishes for your future together!

    • I had a friend who kind of made her fiance buy her a HUGE engagement ring (and spent all his savings on it) and then is demanding a HUGE wedding (which won’t take place for another 3-4 years, because they can’t afford it).

      I think a lot of people want a wedding more than they want to actually build a life together.

      As someone who has done the whole wedding thing… I think it’s romanticized WAY too much…

  29. I respect you a lot for this. It seems the question “did you marry young because you are pregnant” is universal. A close friend of mine felt harrassed because so many people would ask her. The bit about careers kinda makes,me Re evaluate my life a little bit. :/

  30. People always ask me and my husband if we’re on our honeymoon and when we say, “Nah, we’ve been married a few years” they ask where our kids are!! When I say we don’t have them people look at me like I’m crazy!!

    In Thailand a guy on the street stopped us to talk to us and after the whole honeymoon/marriage scenario he literally patted my stomach and told my husband to take me to the hotel and impregnate me!!!!

    I don’t get any of that in America. Especially from my in-laws. I snapped once when they asked when we were having kids and said, “You realize you’re asking when I plan to have unprotected sex, right?!?!” No one bothers me now. :) And I’m 27 and have been married since 23 (engaged at 22). We were engaged for almost a year so we never got the pregnant questions right away…

    All the way around, I think asking these things is extremely inappropriate and those are personal choices and decisions!

  31. My friend from middle school recently got married. She I 20 (almost 21) and everytime I tell someone about her they always make a “too early” comment. I feel bad because while I don’t think I’ll be married for a few more years (at the least), I don’t think she rushed it. She’s happy and excited. I’m envious really. I wish the world would just wake up and realize all the changes that are taking place, rather than just clinging to traditions.

    • Makes sense.

      When my mother commented that I was so young, I reminded her she got married when she was 21 too – as did my grandma. So it really wasn’t even “that young” – just young for this day and age.

  32. My husband and I had the opposite problem. We were together 4 years exactly (to the day – yes, we got married on the same date we met) and most people in Taiwan couldn’t understand and kept questioning why we waited so long. We were also engaged for a long time (the longest engagement I had ever heard of) as it took a long time to organize weddings on two different continents.

    So, I guess what I am trying to say is people will have opinions about everything is you step out from what is considered ‘the norm!!’

    • Hahaha, that’s true. We had a 1 year engagement and his family thought that was absurdly long.
      It’s weird because I don’t even know that many couples that followed “the norm.” Sometimes “the norm” really isn’t feasible…

      (we also got married on our two year anniversary – to the day – so that the day meant something special)

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