Monday, June 17, 2013

Young Marrieds vs. Old Unmarrieds

Lately I've read several blog posts and editorials devoted to marriage, specifically the benefits or whys and wherefores of marrying young. (The Common Room, The Atlantic, Life in a Shoe, Stephen Miller, and more I can't find at the moment) They've been interesting, honestly, and speaking as someone who's wanted to be married ever since I was a little girl, I'm kind of surprised that willfully deferring marriage has become enough of a "thing" that people feel a need to write about it. (Clearly I need to get out more.)

However, I'm here today with a different take on the issue. I am a woman, 26 years old, trying to get a career off the ground in a brutal job market. I don't know if I'm still "young," but I'm not married or engaged or dating or interested in someone. Nor have I ever been any of the above. Heck, I don't even have any male friends at the moment. (I said I need to get out more.) Anyhow, my piece today could be called Reasons Why People Should Stop Fretting about the Marriage Age of Others.

1. Believe me, we know we're not married and we know we're not getting any younger.

Nuff said.

2. All people are not unmarried for the same reasons.

Apparently some of us are so selfish and misguided that we avoid such a wonderful thing as marriage (and children) so that we can have a career or nice stuff or a villa in Tuscany. (Why else would so many people write on this subject?) Others put off marriage out of a nebulous sense of unreadiness, ignoring the fact that no one is ever 100% ready to get married. Still others are waiting for Mr./Miss Perfect Prince(ss) Charming, and we just won't admit that he/she is a figment of our imagination that no real person could ever hope to match. But some of us wanted to be married 10... 20... 50 years ago. We want it desperately to this day. We pray for a spouse like Hannah prayed for a son. For whatever reason that has nothing to do with our self-centeredness or poor decisions we haven't gotten married and here we are. Personally, being a wife (and hopefully mother) is my dream job, as in "drop everything, move around the world, and give up all kinds of perks" dream job. I'm only starting a career because somebody's got to pay the bills, and it's not going to be the cat.

3. Not everyone meets someone at the same life stage.

I expected I'd meet my husband in college. I mean, it happens all the time, right? During those four years, I met a lot of people. Most of them, although adults in age, were still "boys." The few men I met were already married or in a deep relationship heading toward marriage. I don't want to marry a boy, so I didn't date in college. My senior year, my brother started his freshman year at the same university. His first day on campus, before classes had even started, he met a girl and said to himself, "I want to marry her." He'd just met her five minutes previous! Anyhow, they dated for four years, married at the age of 22, and recently celebrated their first wedding anniversary. In the same time span, I finished college, finished grad school, and still haven't met anyone.

4. Thinking that other people think we should have been married already amplifies the (admittedly irrational) doubts and worries we already dwell on too much.

It goes something like this: So if I'm not married, it must not be God's will for me to be married. Is that His will for now or for always? If I'm never going to get married, why can't He just tell me so I can stop praying for a husband and wasting both our time? Maybe I just need to pray harder. Does my lack of a husband really have anything to do with God, or am I just not pretty enough? Maybe I need to change my personality or something. Should I act dumber and less independent? Pretend I like sports but not books when it's really the other way 'round? But I like me the way I am, so why can't a guy? I just need to pray more and have more faith. God will provide... unless He doesn't.

So my proposal is that instead of focusing on how old people are when they get married, we should encourage young people (and everyone else) to seek the will of God and to trust that God's plans are for the best, even when we don't get what we want. Because if people are truly striving to live according to God's will for their lives, then every last one of them will get married at exactly the right age for them. For some people, that means marriage at 19, for others, marriage at 50, and for others, never marrying. And that's okay.

Postscript: In all actuality, I do believe there are benefits to marrying young. (See cited posts/articles for some of the reasons.) But to go around saying that people need to quit delaying marriage (with the implied, "just go get hitched already," as if it's that easy) assumes a lot.


  1. Thanks for this post! I am a lot like the way you described yourself -- wanting to get married but not having any prospects right now, and pursuing a career even though I'd be happy to be a wife and stay-at-home mom. It is really hard, sometimes, to trust that God will provide. But I do believe that if I am being called to marriage, God will put the right man in my life at the right time. In the meantime, I am trying to be the best single person I can be, because that is God's will for my life now. But I don't think there is anything inherently wrong with marrying early or late in depends on the maturity level of the people involved!

    1. You're welcome!

      The biggest thing is that "certain advantages to marrying young" does not equal "marrying young is better." It really depends on the people involved. The only advantage I can think of that lies solely with the young is fertility. But having children is as much subject to the will of God as finding a spouse, so really it all comes back to God and not human opinion anyway.