The magic engagement number

Maybe you’ve read the recent blog post by a young lady entitled “23 things to do instead of getting engaged before you’re 23” (or something along those lines).

The title caught my attention.  I thought I’d be reading a happy-go-lucky post focused on the fun stuff singles can do more easily than marrieds.

Instead, the author quickly digresses into a bitter diatribe (I’ve always wanted to use that phrase) against marriage and anyone who dares to tie the knot in their early twenties.

She claims brazenly that she has already experienced more of the world in her 22 years than her married friends will.  EVER.  In their ENTIRE lives.  All right, so she’s traveling in China right now.  Big deal.

She reassures herself that nothing is wrong with her for being single at this point in her life (totally in agreement on that) by stating that her married friends will soon be pregnant and fat.  What a sweet friend she must be.

She calls marrying young a “cop-out” for those who are too scared to face life alone.  Okay, honey, you need to talk to some married folks and see whether marriage really made their lives easier.  Some things are easier with a spouse, definitely (my husband always takes care of snow blowing the driveway and fixing things around the house).  Some parts of life are much more difficult.  Blending two lives into one is no easy task.

I truly want to believe this girl had good intentions in writing this post, and simply got carried away, not realizing the utter rudeness and lack of respect for others her comments displayed.

I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt and try to express what I’d like to think this girl actually meant to convey:

Marriage is a huge commitment and should never be entered into lightly or without serious consideration.  Perhaps she does (or more accurately, did, now that she’s insulted them all) have lots of friends who approach marriage as simply a way to get an extravagant party with the perfect dress, followed by a houseful of trendy new gadgets from her gift registry.  If that’s why you’re getting married, it’s simply not going to cut it.

Another point I assume she was trying to make: society can be way too judgmental when we don’t follow standard timelines for when we reach certain milestones.  Maybe she has been asked too many times, “So when are you going to settle down?” or has received one too many pitying looks from her engaged or married friends.  It gets old, it really does.  Whether a young single person is longing for marriage or perfectly content to remain single (for a few years or permanently), these questions and attitudes are frustrating.

The saddest aspect of this article, to me, is the general disrespect of marriage that is conveyed.  Although the author claims, in the beginning, that she does want to get married, someday, every other bit of her writing says exactly the opposite.

If she genuinely believes that married people can never “experience” the world the way she wants to, then why get married at all?

I personally have found that marriage can in fact be filled with amazing experiences!  My husband and I travel a lot: we’ve been to Jamaica, France, Spain, and Myrtle Beach in just three and a half years.   We’ve also experienced the gut-wrenching pain of miscarriage, eventually followed by the unimaginable joy of welcoming our precious son into the world.  It’s already been incredible, and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us in the years to come.

Life does not stop when you walk down that aisle.  Other than the several rather promiscuous activities she includes, most of the things on her list are perfectly  doable within a marriage.  You can still travel, take risks, try new challenges, together.  

Yes, some things are just more complicated when married.  You have to make decisions that include another human being, not just yourself.   It’s not so easy to take a spontaneous vacation or move cross-country.  It doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

There are some experiences this girl will never have as long as she is single, and some singleton experiences those of us who are married won’t have either.  Both lifestyles involve choices.  Neither is inherently superior to the other.

On my wedding day, I was twenty-nine.  Was this because I had to “find myself” before giving up all my independence and adventurousness?  No.  I  quite simply didn’t have the right person in my life until then.  Both of us encountered some bumps in the road.  I would have loved to meet him when I was twenty-two, but that wasn’t our journey.  I watched a ton of my friends get married right out of college, and they’re all still together and happy.  I’ll admit I was certainly envious at times, but not once did I ever feel that my friends were “copping out” or “settling” by marrying young.

Marriage is a covenant to do life together.  Can single people lead fulfilled and adventurous lives?  Absolutely!  Can married people do the same?  Without a doubt!  I love being married.  I love my husband, I love making plans and decisions as a team, and I love that we’re building a family together.  Whatever the timing of any relationship, it’s all about what’s right for those two people.  There is no arbitrary number for success or failure of a marriage.

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