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Students marry during college, say marriage sometimes seems "hard" - The Red and Black : News

Students marry during college, say marriage sometimes seems "hard"

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Posted: Tuesday, August 14, 2012 8:00 am | Updated: 5:52 pm, Tue Aug 14, 2012.

Sophomore Carmina Escalante was staring at the hardest text message of her life.

Escalante, 19, had to explain to her traditional Filipino parents that she wanted to get married to a man she had been dating for less than a year.

"I know this is really bad, but I told them over text. I messed up. I told them, and they were not happy," Carmina Escalante, now Taylor, said. "It was a long text -- long conversation over text --- because I was just so scared. I wasn't sure how to break it to them because I knew it wouldn't be something that they wanted for me."

Her 20-year-old boyfriend and now husband Zebulon Taylor was waiting beside her in support.

But getting married had been the last thought on both of their minds.

"Neither of us is really marriage-focused," Carmina said. "We would have, perhaps, cohabitated for the rest of our lives if we ended up together."

Zebulon agreed, saying that marriage was a "foreign idea" to him.

"I had never ever ever considered this -- ever. I had not even toyed with the notion of marriage in general. It was really a foreign idea to me completely," Zebulon said. "But she and I fell into a routine very quickly, not stagnating, but just really meshed and fit well."

And now months later, the two have joined one of college's lesser known minorities - the betrothed.

Their wedding didn't arise from a romantic notion or a whirlwind pregnancy.

Instead, it came from the serendipitous juncture of their mutual goal to one day join the Peace Corps.

"She and I both wanted to do the Peace Corps once we graduate, and she did some research into it and found that in order to go together, couples have to be married for at least a year prior to going out," Zebulon said.

Carmina realized that if they were going to be together during that time, they would have to get married soon, or else they would miss the one-year deadline.

"We're both graduating December 2013," Carmina said. "Zeb said, 'Let's just get married.' I had been sure about it, but I wasn't going to let him know until I was sure that he was sure."

After living together for the summer, the two wed in juvenile court with their closest friends and their family.

The reception was a small dinner at DePalma's Italian Cafe.

"Not flashy," Zebulon said. "It was a low-key ceremony."

"A low-key day actually," Carmina added.

And though they insist that being married hasn't changed their relationship, the pair admitted that it has changed the attitudes of those around them.

"It is a weird subject. I can understand that because it would probably make me uncomfortable because when I think about it, its really weird," Zebulon said. "The sort of conception [of being married] is very different than the reality. [It] is not weird -- the main difficulties are in the stereotypes, how we are perceived by others."

But for Lance and Kate Stonespring, a couple who got married before their senior year and graduated spring 2012, it was their faith and families that carried them past any concerns about outside perception.

"One of the things we were talking about was one question: why are we waiting to get married? Because of society — society says that you should graduate first, you should probably have a job and then get married," Kate said. "But [as Christians] we live differently than the world in a lot of ways, so why are we conforming to this standard of society?"

For Lance, it was a foregone conclusion that they would end up together, built from the first time they started dating when Kate was entering the University as a freshman in 2008, and he was a student at Kennesaw State University.

"It was something that I knew from the get-go," Lance said. "I guess my feelings were leaning that way, and she kind of caught up to me."

But Kate wasn't so sure about marriage -- at least, in the beginning.

"I was a little hesitant at first," Kate said. "We started dating January of [2009], and by December I feel like I was pretty sure that he was the one."

But it was ultimately the support of their parents which allowed the couple to go ahead and take the plunge and go forward with their plans to marry following their junior year.

"I knew that I could only be happy if my dad and mom were happy for me," Kate said. "They were just behind us 100 percent, and that means so much to me."

That didn't stop them from realizing the realities of marriage — and the difficulties it might pose for a couple still in the throes of college concerns.

"We knew it was going to be hard...we didn't have that expectation when we got married that everything else would be perfect," Lance said. "I was working three days a week and had classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and I would drive an hour to meet my dad on those days I wasn't in school."

But for Kate, the hectic schedules came with blessings that could only be brought by their status as husband and wife.

"I can look back and see positive things about it," Kate said. "You can talk about the struggles, but when I was student teaching, those were long days and I loved coming home to him. It felt like a home."

And though the decision to marry young might be taboo to some, Daniel and Melanie Connell said it worked out well for them. They were married in 1990 before entering their junior year at Auburn University.

"I was 11 days shy of my 20th birthday," Melanie said. "I get a lot of pushback from our friends and I want to say, 'Well, it worked for us.'"

And now their oldest daughter of four children, Caroline, attends the University.

In fact, Caroline was born during their senior year of college.

"I was in the computer lab and the computer engineering students were pretty close, a small group," Daniel said. "I just remember a few were down in the basement, and this was back before cell phones, so there was one phone at the desk in the front, and Melanie called and everybody in the computer lab got excited because we knew that Melanie's water had broke."

They said they have never regretted their decision to marry young, saying that it was right for them as a couple.

"This might be a question of memory because it's hard to go back and look 20 years ago," Daniel said. "But for whatever reason, we really loved each other and wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. That was all-consuming for us and in hindsight, I'm glad we did it."

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