Hannah Miller, from Birmingham, got together with her now-husband Sam when she was 18. A year later, he proposed. Now 43, with three sons, she shares the surprise benefits of teenage marriage and how they’ve kept their relationship rock solid ever since.
My husband Sam and I first met when I was 10 and he was 14. I remember thinking, "Gosh, he's lovely", and my older sister teasing me about him.
Then, after a series of boyfriends, I ran into him at a festival when I was 17. He'd been away in America and was really tanned - he made my heart flutter. But, he was four years older than me and didn’t seem interested in dating, so I knew it was unlikely anything would happen.
Still, friends would try to matchmake us, saying, "What about Hannah? She's a nice girl", and he would bat it off. In the end, we met for coffee as a way for him to say, "I just want to be your friend" and ended up chatting about our lives for hours, before he took me for dinner. Six hours later, we went our separate ways, with me thinking it was an interesting way to tell someone you don’t want to date them.
After that, he went away for a few weeks and, when he came back, he told me he hadn’t been able to stop thinking about me. A week after my 18th birthday, we got together and we’ve been together ever since.
Things quickly got serious
I’d only just started university where, of course, most relationships break up very quickly, but we were the opposite – after six weeks, we felt this was for life. We talked about marriage and, on our first anniversary, he took me to Northern Ireland and proposed at Giants Causeway – the place where he’d been thinking about me before we got together. I said yes immediately.
I’m an impulsive person and I honestly never really thought about the fact that, at 19, I was committing myself to one person for the rest of my life.
At 19, I was committing myself to one person for the rest of my life.
If any of my friends had said they were getting married at that age, l would have thought "What are you doing?". But, my uni friends all thought that if anyone was going to get married so young, it would be me.
When I look back, I can’t believe we did it. We've got a 20 year old son now and I look at him and if he told me he was going to get married now, what would I say?
But my husband isn’t impulsive and he knows his own mind. If he was making that decision to marry me, I just knew that he'd never leave me. Ultimately, it's about the right partner – you could get married when you’re older and still cock it up.
I just knew my husband would never leave me.
My family's reaction
My mum approved – she thought he was such an amazing young man, that I should marry him quickly! – and my parents were both used to people being younger when they got married as that’s what their generation did. But I’m their baby and I think the hardest thing was probably letting their youngest child go sooner than they would have liked.
My brother was unsure to start with because he’s 11 years older than me and the protective older sibling, and my dad had his concerns – us not having any stability or security was his biggest worry,
Sam and I had no money. I was a student still living in a house shared with friends, and he was working part time in the charity sector, but he’d saved all year for my ring. Because we were so young, we weren’t expected to contribute like we would if we got married in our 30s and were financially independent, so my parents footed the bill for the wedding.
We got married the following June, with 250 guests – at that age, you have so many friends – and of course, we were the first to get married, so it was a big party. My husband’s late father was a minister so he married us and then we celebrated in the town hall with our own caterers. It was pretty basic and we didn’t give much attention to detail, I'd probably do things quite differently now, but I was much more focused on being married than I was on the wedding.
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Adjusting to married life
We hadn’t even lived together before, so we had our first night in our little flat, went off on a simple honeymoon to Devon and Wales, and then got on with married life. Sharing a home with Sam was easy because I hadn't got the personal baggage that comes with time – there was no ‘This is how I like to do my life’ and trying to fit him in with it.
However, I was still at uni, so it was an interesting transition. I wasn't living in a student bubble anymore: I was living with my husband and hanging out with our serious couple friends. But, I honestly didn't have any desire to prolong the student partying and we still had fun - just in a slightly different way.
Four years later, we decided to start a family - again the first of our friends to do so. My eldest son Noah was born when I was 23, followed by Jude, now 17, and Levi, 14. My eldest is at Oxford University now – not bad for the son of such young parents who didn’t know what they were doing.
Marriage is a compromise whether you’re 20, 30, 40 or 50.
I could reflect, at 43, about the things I haven't done. I haven't independently travelled, I haven't independently lived in my home, I haven't had my own money. It's always been our money, our joint bank account. But I don't feel any regret. I'm at a point in my life now where my kids are older and I have the independence to do things while I’m still quite young. I’m more inclined to holiday with a friend now and, next year, I'm planning solo visits to the countries where my company (where I coach individuals and businesses on how to play to their strengths) supports charity projects.
There’s a lot to be said for marrying young. There is less to let go of than if you’re older – and that's a massive benefit. Marriage is a compromise whether you’re 20, 30, 40 or 50.
Mostly though, we can say we’ve grown up together. We’ve made all our life memories together, we’ve always supported each other, and he’s my best friend. We will celebrate our golden wedding anniversary, and have the opportunity to say that we’ve had a lifelong marriage.
Of course, there have been hard times along the way – grief, loss, financial struggles, job changes – and we argue a lot because I am very scratchy, so life has been incredibly challenging at times, but we are rock solid.
I always knew he was the right person. I never had any doubt when I was 19 and I honestly haven't had one doubt all these years. I don't think I'd ever have been as happy in my life if I hadn’t been married to Sam.