The Truth About What Really Makes Justin Bieber’s Marriage ‘Scary’

Can we all just acknowledge that newlywed Hailey Bieber is feeling some pressure right now?

Vicki Larson
6 min readFeb 19, 2019


Justin Bieber, 24 and Hailey Baldwin (now Bieber), 22 married — quietly — last fall. The couple got engaged in July, and a marriage license in September followed by a civil ceremony with a blow-out wedding to come at some point. And while Justin talked about how he chose to be celibate for a year before he and Hailey got together again — and that he was “rewarded” with her for his “good behavior” (ugh, no comment) — his new wife is talking about how challenging marriage is.

It’s been five months.

I’m not going to sit here and lie and say it’s all a magical fantasy. It’s always going to be hard. It’s a choice. You don’t feel it every single day. You don’t wake up every day saying, ‘I’m absolutely so in love and you are perfect.’ That’s not what being married is. But there’s something beautiful about it anyway — about wanting to fight for something, commit to building with someone. We’re really young, and that’s a scary aspect. We’re going to change a lot. But we’re committed to growing together and supporting each other in those changes. That’s how I look at it. At the end of the day, too, he’s my best friend. I never get sick of him.”

I’m glad Hailey is acknowledging that marriage isn’t “a magical fantasy.” Why would anyone think it would be? Although, let’s face it, the princess culture in America keeps telling women that the key to happiness is having a man and a happily-ever-after ending — and many women struggle with that message.

But when she says, “That’s not what being married is,” I have to wonder, what the heck does a never-before married 22-year-old newlywed think “what being married is”? And why does she think it?

Honestly, when I wed a few months before my 21st birthday, in my beaded and feathered faux-suede dress and Frye boots on a trail in the Rocky Mountains, I had no friggin’ idea what being married is. I just said yes when I was proposed to, and that was that.

Parents, you’re the model

That said, most of us have had marriage modeled for us by our parents — assuming they were married (not all parents are). But even if they weren’t married, or living together or in some sort of committed relationship, our parents are our first model of romantic love.

So what are Hailey and Justin dealing with?

Hailey’s dad Stephen — a recovering addict and born-again Christian — has been married to her mom Kennya for 28 years and has allegedly has been having a long-time affair with a masseuse. Great, dad; kids learn lots from cheating parents! Hailey’s been honest about the challenges of being in the limelight at such an early age, as well as the anxiety many people her age feel about living in the digital age.

Meanwhile, Justin’s mom Pattie Mallette, also a born-again (and long-time celibate) Christian who had an abusive childhood, struggled with addiction and had Justin when she was a teen and didn’t marry Bieber’s dad. Dad Jeremy has been in and out of his life.

Justin, who has also been honest about the challenges of being in the limelight at such an early age, acknowledges that his childhood was hard, which is what drove him to do the Hoffman Process (which I did in 2003, a life-changer), but couldn’t finish. It freaked him out, he says:

You sit on a mat, you put a pillow down, and you beat your past out of it. I beat the fact that my mom was depressed a lot of my life and my dad has anger issues. Stuff that they passed on that I’m kind of mad they gave me.”

So it’s no surprise that Justin struggles with depression, which his new wife is insisting he address with therapy, which is probably why some insist that marriage makes people healthier — except, no, it’s generally wives pushing husbands to get treatment, so marriage often makes husbands healthier but stresses out the wives.

Needing ‘something certain’

Justin needs Hailey in ways that she may not need him. As he says:

I’m the emotionally unstable one. I struggle with finding peace. I just feel like I care so much and I want things to be so good and I want people to like me. Hailey’s very logical and structured, which I need. I’ve always wanted security — with my dad being gone sometimes when I was a kid, with being on the road. With the lifestyle I live, everything is so uncertain. I need one thing that’s certain. And that is my baby boo.”

Maybe that’s why Hailey finds marriage “scary”: that “for better or for worse” part always sounds good — in theory — but a lot more concerning when the “worse” part occurs more than the “better” part.

It’s also super hard to be the “one thing that’s certain.” That’s a lot of responsibility for one person to shoulder, let alone someone in her early 20s.

We’ve all heard that marriage is “hard” and that it takes “work” — although most of the work seems to fall in the wife’s lap.

Can we all just acknowledge that Hailey is feeling some pressure right now?

While some say marrying young and working through challenges together brings a couple closer, there are just as many people who say you need to be a healthy, happy, whole person before you latch onto someone else.

I don’t really have the answer. Just some questions.

Do we want to be in a relationship that feels scary?

Do we want to be in a relationship with someone who finds it scary?

Do we want to rely on one person who’s “certain”?

Do we want to be the person who’s considered “certain”?

Is there anything in life that’s “certain”?

And what about that magical fantasy?

I guess I could go on …

I married young for no other reason than I loved him. Then I didn’t. It didn’t last. It hurt and then it got better. I learned things from it. I can’t say marrying young is the best thing. I also can’t say it’s the worst thing. Statistics indicate young marriages don’t last long and just because a marriage lasts “until death” doesn’t mean it’s a happy, healthy marriage.

Owning you own stuff

That said, I’m a big believer in understanding your own shit before you throw it onto someone else. Doesn’t mean you have to have it all figured out. Doesn’t mean you have to be perfect or fully love yourself or whatever.

You just need to have some curiosity about who you are and why you are who you are before you can be open, available and vulnerable to someone else, without expecting that person to be somewhat responsible for your dark side (which, of course, they’re not).

I can understand why marriage feels scary for Justin and Hailey. But it’s not marriage per se that’s scary — it’s the idea of marriage as an “until death” commitment that’s scary. And who is taking on more of the scary shit.

So maybe that’s the conversation.

Want to know how to make marriage less scary? (Of course you do!) Read The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels (Seal Press). You can support your local indie bookstore or order it on Amazon.

Originally published at



Vicki Larson

Award-winning journalist, author of “Not Too Old For That" & "LATitude: How to Make a Live Apart Together Relationship Work (2024) coauthor of “The New I Do,”