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?


Anonymous said...

Glad she didn't mind waiting an extra decade for grandchildren...

Barb the Evil Genius said...

Who, the dance teacher? She doesn't have grandchildren at all yet. And doesn't seem to care. Of course daughter does have plethora of health problems so who knows what will happen there.

Pauli said...

You are right to be incensed about this. This thinking is part of the feminist movement, the war on marriage and the war on men. Marriage has a civilizing effect on men; a much downplayed fact is that married men get paid more. It's easy to trick young women saying things like "he doesn't make any money; how are you going to survive?" when usually getting married contains a bonus.

I say this as someone had an engagement broken off when I was much younger because my girlfriend's female relatives dissed me as a bad catch. In retrospect, it was a good thing, but it hurt at the time.

Barb the Evil Genius said...

You have a good point mentioning the war on marriage. The institution is a stabilizing and civilizing one all around.

And on the war on men part, I was going to mention that the first woman in this story does happen to be a bitter divorcee. The kind that thinks all men are dogs once she has a bad relationship.