I always find it interesting when I hear a young Hollywood actor say something along these lines during an interview: “I don’t want to get married young. I’m still finding myself!”
I have been married to my husband for a little over six years. We have two little boys. We have been through a lot of ups, and have had a few downs, too.
This year is promising to be full of changes for our little family. My husband is applying for grad school, we are looking at selling our home and buying a new one, and we’ve even thrown out the word “pregnancy” a few times when we’re really feeling ambitious. Most of our decisions are based on what’s best for this family of four.
And I can honestly say as I near my 27th birthday, that through becoming a wife and mother I have “found” myself. I am better, stronger and happier because I married young and started a family.
I always thought I needed to discover exactly who I was on my own before I joined forces with another human being. I didn’t know the joy of self-discovery could happen with someone you love, together.
A few years after the life-changing experience of “American Idol,” I was flying back and forth from Nashville looking at signing a record deal. I was walking the red carpet with Taylor Swift. I was listed as an “artist” at the CMA and ACM awards shows. I was recording an album. I was on the brink.
I was also, inconveniently, in love. My manager at the time sat me down and had a heart-to-heart conversation with me one day. In a nutshell, he said this: “You can choose to get married, or you can choose to have a career.” One will extinguish the other.
After many painful nights of arguing, crying and debating, I made a decision. I decided I could live without the dream of a career in Nashville. I couldn’t — and wouldn’t — live without Brad. He was my dream, too.
Speaking of Brads, I’ve been obsessed with (just kidding, Brad the husband) Brad Pitt, who recently said in an interview with USA Today, “I used to deal with depression, but I don’t now, not this decade — maybe last decade. But that’s also figuring out who you are. I see it as a great education, as one of the seasons or a semester.”
This decade, Pitt has expanded his family from one to seven with actress Angelina Jolie. They have three children from all over the world, as well as three of their own. They are not yet married, but totally “committed” as a couple and family. I think having a bigger purpose in Pitt’s life has contributed to his no longer having feelings of depression.
“I don’t think we’ll be able to hold out (getting married). It means so much to my kids, and they ask a lot. And it means something to me, too, to make that kind of commitment.”
In a recent interview with Parade Magazine, Pitt went into greater detail about what it meant to have a partner in life:
“One of the greatest, smartest things I ever did was give my kids Angie as their mom. She is such a great mom. Oh, man, I’m so happy to have her.”
I made the decision to have a family instead of a career that may or may not have taken off. I will admit there have been times when I’ve flipped on the TV to Swift singing about her latest break-up and thought, “What would that have been like had that been me?” And then I look across the room to the pictures of my three boys, my greatest gifts, and the answer comes the same, every time: “I would be missing the true meaning of life.”
Interestingly enough, it was not until after I had been married and started a family that I discovered “who” I really was and “what” I really wanted to do in my life, professionally and personally. Because I’m part of a team, I have constant support and encouragement. And although my husband and I are equal in our partnership, I feel like I am stronger as an individual.
I believe there is power in family.
Do you think you learned more about yourself after you were married? How has starting a family changed your perspective on life?
Carmen Rasmusen Herbert is a former “American Idol” contestant who writes about entertainment for the Deseret News.