Sunday, June 30, 2013

Starting Anew

God must know that we humans need lots of chances for new beginnings, because we get them so often. Lately, I've been needing a fresh start every morning, but that's a great time to start! Happy new week!

Saturday, June 08, 2013

For Better or Worse

It's interesting that the whole idea of marriage is coming up for me now, as Mr. BTEG and I will be celebrating our twentieth wedding anniversary this Wednesday. By the world's standards, we apparently married shockingly young: I was a month short of 25, and Mr. BTEG had recently turned 23. I would have liked to marry sooner; Mr. BTEG and I had been officially engaged for about a year and a half by then, and unofficially engaged for longer than that. But we waited until Mr. BTEG was through with college (and getting married while in college could be a whole other topic.)

Well, one advantage to marrying younger is having children younger. I think the difficulties of conceiving the older you get are getting swept under the rug in view of things like IVF or even surrogates. But those aren't easy or guaranteed, so I wouldn't advise depending on them. Of course, some people unfortunately cannot conceive at all, and I know that brings deep pain. But if you can, why not have children younger, when you have more energy and can bounce back quicker? In my case, neither of my pregnancies were easy, nor were my deliveries. My youngest ended up being an emergency C-section, and I'm sure recovering from that was much easier at 30 than it would have been at 35.

Being married didn't hinder Mr. BTEG's career, either. We knew we didn't want to live in a big metropolitan area like New York, Chicago or LA, but Cleveland and Columbus were just the right sizes to offer him many choices in IT anyway. I'll admit that me being a stay-at-home wife/mother for most of our marriage made it easier to move to different locations, but I would have had job opportunities as well. And IT guys typically move around quite a bit, so even at thirty Mr. BTEG was not completely settled down at the company he was going to work at for the rest of his life. How many people even do that anymore?

Of course, if one of us had wanted a career that involved more schooling, that would have made things harder. But unless you have wealthy parents or a sugar daddy (don't get me started on that) you have to feed, clothe and house yourself while you are getting more schooling anyway. If you've met the right person, why spend more money living apart?

And there is the crux of the matter for me: if you have met the right person. Mr. BTEG and I knew that we were right for each other, and that we wanted to be married. Our choices were: live together, live separately but keep seeing each other until we hit the "magic" age of 30, keep shopping the dating market and hope we found someone else we wanted to marry when we were older, look each other up again when we were both older and hope that we were still single, or... make a commitment to marry and deal with problems and changes and difficulties together. I will admit, Mr. BTEG has taught me a lot about commitment no matter what. Perhaps some of that is because I am a child of divorced parents, perhaps some of that is my mental instability. But I knew going into marriage that it should be for a lifetime, and I still think that after twenty years. It's incredibly freeing to have the stability and comfort of such a long relationship, and I recommend it. :)

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

The Marriage Mart

At one of my daughter's dance classes, I was appalled to hear one mother say that she was counseling her daughter to not get married until she was thirty. Instead the daughter should be focusing on her own life and on establishing her career. I was even more shocked and unhappy when one of my daughter's dance teachers agreed. As a matter of fact, I became furious, and had a hard time keeping my temper. I wasn't even sure why at the time I was so angry, except that the institution of the family is very important to me, and I hate to see it treated so casually. I think it especially ridiculous for a Christian (like my daughter's dance teacher) to be advocating such ideas. I've spent a while turning it over in my mind, and I've come up with some specific thoughts.

When I typed the second sentence, one of the reasons I've felt uncomfortable about this really stood out: it is all about the self. Focus on YOU and YOUR career. Get yourself comfortably set up, and then you can be ready to let someone else into your life. The problem is, and this is assuming you were brought up in a close family, for about nine years of your life, your focus will have been on you. This is not about people who are single because they haven't found the right one to marry, by the way. This is about those who are doing it for essentially selfish reasons, to get the most out of life for themselves before they even think about sharing that life with another human in the most intimate way possible. But after having lived for yourself for years on end, tasting the best life has to offer for someone with no commitment other than a career, and no one to spend your money other than your own whims, why settle down then?

In today's society, indeed, why settle down at all? There is no stigma attached to living together, not even in having children out of wedlock. And even if you don't find someone you want to shack up with, you can still be having plenty of sex. It seems to be a very tempting prospect; you can have a romantic relationship and sexual release on your own terms, and if it doesn't suit one or both of you, you can walk. But again, once you've lived that life for long enough, why change, and how well will you be able to commit to one person for the rest of your life after treating your relationships as temporary?

Of course, you can live with someone and call it committed without getting married. But that detracts from the whole point of what the mothers who want their daughters to put off getting married seem to want to avoid, and that is the pain of breaking up a relationship, and the annoyance of being stuck with an unpleasant ex if you have to deal with one because of shared children. Somehow if you wait until you are thirty, and have a successful career, you and your prospective spouse will be able to take on a committed relationship with extra assurance that it will work out. I will probably take on that idea soon. In the meantime, what do you feel think about putting off marriage?