Musings on Marriage

Disclaimer: This post is from the archives, and may not represent the current views of the author. It also may not be at all interesting to read. Continue at your own peril!

I have apparently crossed a milestone in my life. I am now at the age where all my friends seem to be getting married. I’m not entirely sure why. I just keep seeing notifications on my Facebook feed about people getting engaged or married and even having children. These are people my age, and even a couple years younger, getting married. I’m only 22 – I thought that was supposed to be young!

Now, this scares me on a couple levels. First off, I feel nowhere near mature enough to be settling down with someone, finding a permanent job, etc. Facing the prospect of graduation and then more grad school to come, I feel like I’m just getting started with life. I still feel like a kid who has no idea what he’s doing, and I can’t possibly fathom how a person of 20 years could feel like they’re ready to settle down. I mean, when I was a little kid, 20 years old seemed like you were reaching senior citizen status, but now it feels like 22 is the new “terrible twos”. Secondly, it kind of scares me that these people have been dating their significant others for years now – and I, on the other hand, haven’t had a date where I really connected with the person in years. This makes me feel way too far behind on the game; thinking about this for too long makes me have the impulsive urge to take up knitting in preparation for my life of spinsterhood. So I try not to think about it.

But the thing about all these people around me getting married is that it’s incredibly difficult for me to be happy for them. I mean, I wish them all well and whatnot, but considering that age at marriage is the number one predictor of later divorce, the realistic prospects really aren’t that bright. I hope that these people do not become a statistic, but statistically speaking, they will be. For example, women married before the age of 25 make up 64% of all divorces in the US, whereas those who get married in their late 20s make up only 16%; men have similar figures. Certainly there are other factors that play a role, but age at marriage is a very significant one. I’m not saying that it’s impossible for young married couples to be and stay happy, but it is just less likely to be the case. To be happy for these couples that are likely to face dissatisfaction as a result of this decision is very difficult.

Despite these marriages frightening me and make me uneasy, they also reveal something interesting. Of these individuals that have gotten or are getting married, all of them are religious. Now, this could be because most of my friends are religious, so it’s just more likely for me to know them. But I do have a fair number of non-religious and atheist friends, and none of them that I know of are considering marriage at this time. There are a couple that I know of that live with their partners, but I haven’t heard of any who are considering marriage. This could also, of course, be just an increased social circle for Christians that makes them more likely to meet someone. Certainly I know that it’s more difficult to meet new people as an atheist, without that weekly Sunday club meeting to go to. And of course, those one-on-one “Bible studies” that are all about “Jesus” *wink wink*.

But I think that the difference between my religious and my non-religious friends in terms of marriage is actually a significant one. It seems likely that there is an increased push towards marriage for Christians, since sex is off-limits until they tie the knot (or at least, it’s supposed to be), whereas non-Christians don’t really have that restriction. And of course, since one’s hormones are usually surging around this time of one’s life, the only recourse for Christians is to either be a naughty Christian or to get married early and start pumping out children (well, if you’re a Catholic and can’t use contraception). That, to me, would explain the difference in age of marriage here. Of course, it’s not as though Christians are likely to explicitly say, “Yes, we’re getting married because we think it’s high time to have sex already,” but such thoughts can easily be disguised with a little cognitive maneuvering. “We’re at that point in our relationship where we were ready to make the commitment,” or, “I really love him/her and this is the next step in showing that,” or perhaps, “We feel God was leading us in this direction” (funny how God sometimes agrees with one’s hormones when you really want him to!).

There are likely other factors related to this as well. After harping on the “sanctity of marriage” for years, Christians have drilled it into their heads that marriage is a crucially important thing. Atheists, on the other hand, don’t seem to have as high of an opinion of marriage on average – though of course, that’s not to say that they all think it’s terrible and that none of them get married. But there seems to be a sense that marriage is not as big of a deal for non-religious folks. I’m not placing judgment on this either way – it just is what it is. But inasmuch as young married couples are more likely to experience dissatisfaction and get divorced, the attitudes surrounding marriage can surely be important.

Of course, I say all this with no malice against marriage. I think it can be a wonderful thing if done properly. My parents (and grandparents, and aunts and uncles) offered me a great model of what a good marriage looks like. But I think likely part of “doing it properly” involves having some practical experience of the big bad world out there to make sure that you’re mature enough to handle it. And maybe my friends are – who knows? That’s for them to decide. But all I can say is that I certainly don’t feel anywhere near ready to get married. It just makes it difficult for me to believe that others could be.

Anyway, with that said, I do truly wish the friends of mine who have gotten married and are getting married soon the best of luck. The realist in me says, “Tread with caution,” but the optimist in me is hopeful that these marriages will be happy and successful. As for me, I’ll work on my knitting skills.

14 responses to “Musings on Marriage”

Gandolf

Jeff said.."As for me, I'll work on my knitting skills."

Hey Jeff .Ohhh well atleast you`ll be all set for a drawer full of hand knitted Wille Warmers

Heres a pattern http://hearthwench.tripod.com/kwillie.html

There is plenty of styles http://www.google.co.nz/images?hl=en&q=willy+warmers&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=univ&ei=4zhaTNP9FYbCvQOStPGHAg&sa=
X&oi=image_result_group&ct=title&resnum=1&ved=
0CCEQsAQwAA so there is no reason you cant let you knitted creative abilty go really wild !

And if you get sick of knitted stuff ,there is always the crochet stitches to learn!.

Jeff i had my first son when aged only 22 ,let me tell you my friend in my opinion i think you are just using your brain how brains are supposed to be used .And though i love my son if i had the chance to live life over again , id get knitting me Willie Warmers at age 22 ! ,and get other stuff better sorted first.

To be honest i wonder if maybe the hurry is connected in someway to some young folks feeling maybe this world dont hold much of a future ,what with polution and tough job prospects and it getting tougher and tougher for folks in many places to have dreams about good careers and owning their own houses etc.

When folks lose hope in measuring up to soceity and making the grade,its a tough lonely feeling situation to exist in right? ,and what better than trying to consol these lonely hopeless feelings by trying to hurry up finding somebody to settle down with to fall in love.

Just a thought.

A thought, because without wanting to make any excuses! ,i just know for me it was a lack of good self esteme and lack of ability to set my eye on any type of future goal with purpose ,that saw me tending to run wild.Life just seemed so random when you got born to a religious cult where one moment you had family next moment it seemed maybe they couldnt even care less if you were dead.It didnt make the future seems so hopeful for me,even though maybe i wasnt thinking about it in the depth i do now.

Id say most likely there is maybe a number of reasons for the phenomenom you discribe.

But anyway i would let it worry you my friend ,remember Rome wasnt built in a day!.

And if you do happen to end up a spinster ,so what?, atleast hopefully you wont be a worried single parent wondering how the hell you going to try and help your kids not to make the same mistakes.

I suggest yust get knitting those Willie Warmers Jeff ,looks like they are styley and warm ,and Crikey! maybe they is? even attractive to some females who maybe like fun and a little foreplay and attitude, rather than just the boring same old same old.

Just another thought.

Kristin M.

Hey Jeff,
I just had to comment- I agree with a lot of what you said, and I too think I should take up knitting by now, ha ha! I feel like a lot of people around me are getting married too. Glad to know I'm not the only one.

My only thought is that I wonder why people think getting married young is so strange, but living together at the same age is not, when they're pretty similar really.

In any case, I'm nowhere close to getting married either, so I'll be looking for some cats soon too 😉

feeno

Dude, the second you meet the right girl all those statistics, factors, worries and reasoning gets thrown out the window.

W'dup G? Knitting? C'mon man, I picture you sitting out in the woods spitting in a fire sharpening a knife.

Kristin, 'sup girl? No rush. My advice to my girls…The 3 P's… Be picky, be patient and pray for the right guy.

Peace be with you, feeno

Dave Carrol

Thought I'd throw my thoughts into the mix. I blogged about this a while back following a "Case for young marriage" article I read (that I quote heavily). Now… it's written from a Christian perspective but I think it makes some pretty good points actually.

http://bigearcreations.blogspot.com/search?q=the+case+for+young+marriage&x=0&y=0

From the movie Rear Window:

Stella: Look, Mr. Jeffries, I'm not an educated woman, but I can tell you one thing. When a man and woman see each other and like each other, they oughta come together–wham!–like a couple of taxis on Broadway, and not sit around analyzing each other like two specimens in a bottle.

Jeff: There's an intelligent way to approach marriage.

Stella: Intelligence! Nothing has caused the human race so much trouble as intelligence. Ha, modern marriage!

Jeff: Now we've progressed emotionally.

Stella: Baloney! Once, it was see somebody, get excited, get married. Now, it's read a lot of books, fence with a lot of four-syllable words, psychoanalyze each other until you can't tell the difference between a petting party and a civil service exam.

Gandolf

Feen…"W'dup G? Knitting? C'mon man, I picture you sitting out in the woods spitting in a fire sharpening a knife."

Hey "W`dup Feen, yes i fully understand and agree,a sharp knifes all good! if you gonna be needing it to be skinning some animal to try and keep warm.Mind you need to watch out! a bit and be careful for any "furskin chafing" effects ,or else near risk spending a small fortune!! on chaff creams.Im figuring maybe Woolen Knitted Willy Warmers would likely? be far more comfortable than furskin ones might be.

And you cant really knit any Woolie "Wille Warmer" very easy using a "sharp knife" ,Feen.Its just far easier using the choice "old school" knitting needles.

And besides you can still spit in the fire and chew tobacco while practising playing the samba beat, on a didgeridoo if you feel like.And if your really really feeling daring and cool !, practice skillfully using the razor sharp knife for a tooth pick.And measure the ability of ones skill, by seeing who actually ends up cutting themself, and who doesnt.

But still im thinking all this manly cave-man style! stuff, likely wont really help make any "Willy" Warmer, "Tootsie" Warmer or "Mitsie" Warmer or even "Beany" Warmer feel anymore cozy or comfortable.And just reminding our friend Jeff not to be to quick! to simply be recklessly knocking and degrading the great value! of some human folk actually having great modern day kitting skills .

Jeff

Well, that attracted plenty of responses! Who knew that talking about sex would do that? Lol.

Gandolf: Hmm, well those Willie Warmers sure do look toasty warm! Haha, but yeah, you bring up an interesting point. I honestly don't know whether it's right or not, but it sounds somewhat reasonable. I just don't know whether someone would be more likely to get married if they had lost hope in society and wanted some comfort, or if they HAD hope in society and wanted someone to look forward to it with…maybe it's a bit of both?

Marriage does often get linked with "settling down" and "starting a family", though, so I would suspect that someone who was pessimistic about the future might hesitate to bring more children into the world – and that might lead to less likelihood of getting married. But again, it's just speculation. Thanks for the interesting thoughts 🙂

Kristin: Yeah, you know a lot of the same people that I'm talking about. You're right that in some ways, marriage seems very similar to living together – so yeah, it seems strange that they end up being thought about so much differently. I think marriage tends to feel more "final" to people – like, you know, once you make this choice, you can never go back. Then again, with the divorce rate what it is, that's not really true either 😛

Anyway, with the average age of marriage for Canadians being in the late 20s, I don't think either of us have to worry quite yet!

Feeno: That's a good point, but I like to at least give off the impression that my decisions are based on more than just my current emotional state…makes me sound more intelligent 🙂

Jeff

Dave: You know, I remember reading that post of yours back when you wrote it (though I had forgotten all about it until you mentioned it). There are some things that the article certainly gets right, one of them being the fact that good marriages are made, not stumbled across. Research shows that people who have some idea of "destiny" or the perfect "soulmate" tend to have more and shorter relationships that are less satisfying than those who believe that relationships are a work in progress. So while our culture tends to emphasize the "love at first sight, perfect man/woman" scenario, it tends to be a recipe for unhappiness.

That type of thinking can, of course, happen to both Christians and non-Christians. But if I had to guess, I'd probably say that Christians are more likely to think they'll find "Mr. Right", since they tend to believe that God has a plan that involves you marrying one specific person. That's not true of all Christians, of course, but I've certainly seen it in many.

But anyway, the part that I find a little worrisome is that the article seems to say, "Teens are going to have sex, but they're not allowed to have it before marriage, so we need to push early (though strong) marriage." Even if you make sure to inform teens about the necessity of having to work to make a marriage work, I'm not sure it would totally counteract the statistics that early marriage tends to lead to greater dissatisfaction. It might help to reduce it a bit, but I feel like there's more to the issue.

Anyway, I suppose if you start with the rule of no sex before marriage as a moral issue and therefore non-negotiable, this sort of predicament occurs. I've begun to see it as more of an issue of good judgment – don't do anything stupid, in other words. If that's the general difference in mindset between religious and non-religious people, then it would likely explain the difference in age at marriage.

Gandolf

Dave said…" Now, it's read a lot of books, fence with a lot of four-syllable words, psychoanalyze each other until you can't tell the difference between a petting party and a civil service exam."

Yes i think maybe i agree with you Dave,seems relationships have gotten a whole lot more "complex" these days than many old ways once used to be, where sometimes menfolk were kinda treating the Women as if they were only simply some type of breeding stock.Kinda like how all the bulls of a herd of reindeer get to try to dominate the herd, to try and make sure the particular bloodline survives.

Gandolf

Jeff said.."Marriage does often get linked with "settling down" and "starting a family", though, so I would suspect that someone who was pessimistic about the future might hesitate to bring more children into the world – and that might lead to less likelihood of getting married. But again, it's just speculation. "

pessimistic = expecting the worst possible outcome

Dont many pessimistic people sometimes tend to be more likely to feel slightly more vulnerable?.

If so .Wouldnt it therefere seem possible ,just maybe they might be slightly "more likely" to "quickly" seek solice and to be consoled by looking for love earlier?.

Its maybe not! all the reason why it happening.But still i was just thinking, maybe its partly the reason.

Gandolf

Jeff.."I would suspect that someone who was pessimistic about the future might hesitate to bring more children into the world "

Maybe through feeling more pessimistic, psychologically they tend to think less about the action of marriage/relationship meaning being more likely to be bringing other new life into the world,because they are just far to busy feeling pessimistic ,and feeling need to find some solice to help realign the messy "emotions" , and atleast feel loved.

Gandolf

Jeff said to Dave.."But anyway, the part that I find a little worrisome is that the article seems to say, "Teens are going to have sex, but they're not allowed to have it before marriage, so we need to push early (though strong) marriage."

Yeah and then what about the idea that it also seems almost like, many humans are kind of "hard wired" ,to naturally be attracted to early body change in the females of the species.

Therefore that factor then in turn surely must also do something towards slowly breed the genes that are evolving quicker and quicker towards early maturity.

What do folks think about that kinda theory.

Gandolf

Jeff said…" or if they HAD hope in society and wanted someone to look forward to it with…maybe it's a bit of both?"

Well yes, and also maybe? a number of young Christian couples might sometimes be taught, this life is almost maybe only kind of like some "wee short" practice "struggle run", where these huge trials should all be expected, because thats is also whats been recorded in the prophetic faith writings.It was kind of like a faith test, to try and help shape! and strengthen us

And so some young folk would try to hone in on meditating and worshiping towards gaining this ultimate longterm eternal relationship package. But for many the empirically proven natural stress levels such as humans anxioty about things like finance and living costs, and how it all getting harder and tougher and tougher for many to even "dream" of ever owning their own houses and what-not.

Dont! simply disappear! like magic into thin air.

And while meditation is almost empirically proven by nuroscience, to be observed to actually alter states of the mind and thought process for periods of time.

When many folks finally have a break from meditating and worshipping, many of the bills! and modern day anxiotys! all still remain.

Jeff

Gandolf: Again, great thoughts. I don't really have much to add, since we're talking about things that can have empirical answers, and I haven't done the research to know what the answers are. But certainly there are important sociocultural factors that can affect one's views about marriage, sex, and children – that much is for sure. I'm sure that psychologists and sociologists have studied it, but I'm just not familiar with their conclusions. Anyway, thanks for the thoughts!

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