Inspired by a friend’s post, I thought I better say some positive words about marriage. In my day, getting married was a no-brainer. It was just part of the natural progression of life. It was accepted as a good thing and most everyone expected to get there sooner rather than later.
What followed was an era of radical social upheaval that has left a lot of people confused about marriage, its value, its risks and its benefits. Attitudes about sex, cohabitation, children outside of marriage and what constitutes parents are constantly shifting. As a result, what used to be unquestioned in the general culture is now a muddled issue.
As counselors we were more worried that people would go into marriage unprepared, and therefore they would become less likely to sustain a marriage when challenges hit. So I think to some degree we have talked more about the potential pitfalls than the inherent benefits. Perhaps we have made some people more cautious about marriage than excited. As I stated earlier, it used to be that the benefits were assumed.
Although social norms may have changed, people have not. We still all have basic longings for love, security, significance, sexuality, and companionship. All of these things are best achieved in a committed relationship. For thousands of years we have called this marriage.
I think myths hold people back from marriage or maybe even any relationship.
- “Women are only interested in a guy’s earning potential – their money.”
- “Men are only interested in sex, not love”
These fears of being taken advantage of or being unloved or inadequate are usually just that – fears. Men also want love and women also want sex. And they both need money to live. Two people of good character and intentions will work those things out in a marriage. Sex and financial stability are actually two advantages in marriage for both men and women. Married couples overwhelmingly have higher success in both those areas. (And married men live longer than single men.)
Anyone who has been alone for any length of time knows the pain that often accompanies singleness. It becomes more acute during holidays and other social events. Some people might like having the freedom (control) of making all life’s decisions without having to factor in another’s opinion, but others just feel the burden. It’s harder to dream alone, go on vacations alone, and get older alone. Community is helpful, even essential, but not the same.
I was talking to a friend this week, and she was saying how life was so much simpler without children (her oldest just became an adolescent). But she said it was not better, just easier – she could not imagine doing life without her kids. The same can be said about marriage.
Ecclesiastes 4: 9 Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. 10 If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.