I got married when I was 21. I’m now 23…and still married – success! It’s a decision which has had a more profound effect on my sense of self than I ever imagined, which I realise might sound a little odd.

When I told people I was getting married I was called insane, romantic (not always as a compliment), foolish, brave, and surely-pregnant. On the day itself,  I was called beautiful, so that’s all good. The time afterwards has easily been the most interesting, but I’ll get to that. My parents very vocally didn’t approve, so the month before became the worst patch of my relationship with them ever, even worse than the dark days of being 16. Sadly they stuck to their guns and didn’t show up, calling my very real feelings a phase and “typically emotionally immature”. The day itself? I could never have imagined feeling the way I did, but I also felt safe and comforted in the instinctive knowledge that Stu felt exactly the same. “This is a big deal, hey!” was the thought which hit me like a brick wall when I woke up that morning and placed myself trustingly into the hands of my good friends, who shepherded me in my dream-state to the shower, out the shower, into the dress. The day was full of laughter and love, and perhaps a wedding-inappropriate-9am-the-next-morning late-night finish. I got married in the summer before heading to France for my year abroad. I could write about the almost perfectly stereotypical situations I found myself in, hounded by French men who thought ‘married’ meant ‘looking for an affair’. But that’s another story. I picked up on some pretty honest insights as to what people my age thought the word ‘wife’ implies. At parties, people would gossip: “Someone here is married. Who do you think it is? Her? She’s religious, probably her. Or her, she’s kinda dull, probably her. Or her, she’s not very good looking”. Makes for a pretty dire image of what it means to be a wife, doesn’t it? Some even took it upon themselves to ask me why I would make such an anti-feminist life choice. To which I tended to raise my eyebrows sardonically to help them understand that I found their comment absurd. Anti-feminist? Calm down. By getting married I didn’t jump in a time machine. Every marriage is a combination of the two people signed up. Two feminists don’t make one anti-feminist decision. It’s been a journey, there’s no doubt. More for me than Stu, who has unhesitatingly and flatteringly spoken of how he feels as a husband, much to my delight. At first I felt embarrassed at confessing that I was the married 21 year old. But I am mostly extremely proud indeed to be married. I’m in a position now where I know how patient, empathetic, trustworthy and loyal I am - qualities which I see as having gained directly from Stu as much as being a product of our relationship. To me that’s what being a wife means, and calmly I hope to do my bit to redefine what it could mean to others who seem less trusting of the term. Ps: Thankfully, two years on, nearly all is resolved with my parents, who I even respect more for having stuck to what they thought was right. I still jokingly blame them; I was lucky enough to grow up in a home led by an impressive, unwavering display of teamwork and support between two individuals.