Young Love and Anteaters

Courtesy of Adam Clements

The long-awaited day has finally arrived. The bride ascends the aisle, veil covering her face, while wedding music plays and emotional friends and family smile and watch. When she reaches the groom, he gently lifts the veil, exposing the face of his soon-to-be wife and gazes into the eyes of the individual with whom he will spend the rest of his life — the one. Imagine finding that one person while immersed in your studies at UCI and celebrating the event that accompanies this soon afterward.

For fourth-years Brittany Steacy, 22, and Adam Clements, 21, this fantasy has become a reality. Engaged since April, the couple will be tying the knot this December, and are overjoyed to be doing so.

What began in a UCI classroom will be culminating in an eternal bond. Steacy and Clements met during their freshman year in a Humanities Core discussion class. Though Steacy had been dating someone else at the time, she and Clements reconnected the following year while planning a pre-Welcome Week event for Cru, the Christian Fellowship club on campus, of which they are both members.

“Right when I saw him again, I had immediate butterflies,” said Steacy. She had not seen him since the end of the previous school year and had ended her previous relationship.

As the two began to spend more and more time together that year, Clements sensed that a special connection between them was imminent.

“By that time I felt pretty strongly that Brittany was something special,” he said. When they officially began dating that spring, Clements had already fully developed his intentions for the relationship.

“I considered marriage before I decided to start dating. I believe that marriage is that overarching purpose for romantic relationships, and the dating process was an intentional time to spend discovering whether or not I could link arms with Brittany for a lifetime,” he said.

After a few months of dating, he had made up his mind.

“I remember the exact line that he said. He said, ‘Now that we’ve talked about our past and our present, how about we talk about the future,’” remembered Steacy.

At the time, Steacy felt that she could imagine a marriage to Clements, but was still slightly apprehensive about making such a decision. Yet, after the couple took a premarital class for seriously dating and engaged couples at their church, read “Meaning of Marriage” by Tim Keller, a popular Christian author, and returned from a spring break trip to Colorado to visit Clements’s grandparents, she began to feel more prepared for what was to come.

Several weeks later, Clements proposed, and the two have been planning the wedding ever since.

While many young couples often struggle to stay together for various reasons, Steacy and Clements feel that one particular aspect of their lives has always unified them — their religious beliefs.

“We wouldn’t have made it without God. He is the foundation of everything that we’ve gone through together, and He has kept us going, even through really rough patches,” Steacy said.

“Understanding God and how the institution of marriage was intended to reflect this profound love changes the way I view and approach relationships. It kind of shatters the fear and the false expectations,” Clements said.

Their devotion to their religion has given Steacy and Clements’s relationship a security that many relationships between young individuals unfortunately lack. As for their decision to get married at such a young age, there were many contributing factors. Above all, they do not see any reason to wait.

“Our society tells us that you need to be financially stable, you need to have a job, you need have your whole life together before you get married, but our feeling was that part of the journey of marriage was going through that beginning process of yeah, we’re still not super rich, we’re kind of poor, but we’re doing it together, and we feel that our relationship will be that much stronger because we’re building that foundation together, rather than building up ourselves independently and then trying to merge us,” Steacy said.

“We are both imperfect, and often selfish individuals, and through our marriage we can help each other work on our issues and weaknesses, build each other up and grow together,” Clements added.

Though many other young couples may have similar feelings as Steacy and Clements, they often choose to hold off on marriage.

“We each need the time and energy to spend on the career goals that lay ahead,” third-year Lauren Shepherd, who has been with her boyfriend Damai for almost three years, said. “We aren’t threatened by the years that will pass and changes that we might go through before we think about getting married. Our love feels that strong.”

“It’s not really a priority for me right now,” explained fourth-year Keny Cuellar, who has been with her boyfriend Jake since 2006. “When you’re young, it’s a time for you to focus on yourself.”

The differences among these various situations demonstrate the differing perceptions UCI students have of the meaning of a serious relationship. Getting married right away is only one of the many possibilities. For Steacy and Clements, getting married was the only option.

“We are not the typical college students, anyway,” Steacy said. They do not go to wild parties or engage in heavy drinking, among other typical college activities. “We just want to be together.”

In just a few short weeks, their wish will be granted.