To be married or not to be married? That is the question. It’s a question I receive several times a week these days, usually when someone is referring to my single status or another recommendation for a perfect match… “He’s cute, single, and works in finance in Copenhagen! You two would be perfect together!” (yes, someone actually did say this!) Why do people think I need to be married now? These conversations end quickly if I can help it. The subject seems to ignite interest in others but, am I wrong for believing a manhunt is a waste of time?
“Mah-wage… that blessed awaingement… that dweam within a dweam…” as it’s called in the Princess Bride. Not to throw a huge, wet blanket on the romantic idealist but it’s hardly the blissful, romantic enterprise movies portray or that we might imagine it to be. To put it pragmatically, it’s a facilitator of life, a potentially powerful partnership, and an important calling for some but not a prerequisite for happiness or fulfillment. Sometimes, in fact, it has the opposite effect and one can find themselves committed to an existence of pain and regret.
I learn a lot at weddings and from my parents (I LOVE weddings). Sometimes I see weddings turn into, what appears at the moment, to be a happy marriage. Several brides have confided to me their struggles since the Big Day but continue to see their relationships through eyes of faithfulness. My parents say that marriage is “one of those things worth working for.” More often than not, however, I’ve seen magical, white, fairytale weddings turn into tragic divorces in less than 3 years. Sometimes this was because one or both partners were feeling lonely and discovered unmet expectations and more loneliness in marriage; sometimes it was because one or both partners felt pressure from family, friends, their university culture or other social circles to move into the next phase of life when they weren’t emotionally ready; most commonly, however, physical attraction has been the hinge-pin of the unsuccessful ones. These marriages came undone with the first slammed door.
There’s no question we would have fewer divorces if we had more objective assessments of why we’re choosing to marry. Idealism is hardly helpful when we’re making a decision that will last the rest of our lives and, yet, the mindless feelings and lusty infatuation of what we mistakenly call “love,” drives our logic. This shouldn’t be. You’re marrying the girl because she’s HOT? That’s a rock-solid foundation.
My family has begun to discuss this subject more often the older my siblings and I have grown to be and the ending statement is always the same: “we will all know when it’s the right one.” I have my doubts on this. I’d prefer an arranged marriage to the terrible task of orchestrating it myself or hunting for a person with every character quality necessary to achieve that kind of consensus. I like what Paul says in I Corinthians 7 about marriage. Yes, it’s another kind of lifestyle but shouldn’t be any more or less satisfying to us. Dating websites? Why would anyone want to subject themselves to that? What good would it do for us to maneuver, plan, scheme, or put our effort and time into seeking something that’s supposed to be a natural outgrowth of a complete, fulfilled life? Winning another person’s love shouldn’t be a goal; it should be a by-product – icing on the cake.
All perspectives considered I’ve come to the conclusion that the best idea is to simply wait without investing any concern in the matter of whether or not marriage is a part of life. It’s too complicated a question and should be left in the care of a God who knows everything about us. As my mother said before she was married, “God’s just going to have to plop him in my lap.” Otherwise, it’s a completely pointless waste of time and thought. You can feel free to disagree with me but I believe this to be the best, most rational alternative to the feverish, rollercoaster ride of relationship hunting.
If we serve a God who’s already given us direction for our lives, why go searching for fulfillment elsewhere? Why be so anxious to quit the phase of life He has us in now? Do we have so little ambition for accomplishing greater good with our lives that we can’t imagine any grander calling than marriage; how small and self-centered is our world? Life is about more than this! If we care about anyone’s happiness besides our own, our time is well-spent ministering to the needs of people who have no one, serving God faithfully and joyfully in the sphere of influence He has already given us, not trying to push for an answer to the distracting, unnecessary marriage question.
One final word to the critical analysts:
“Not looking” should never mean “not open.” Actually quite the opposite. The point of this post is to advocate satisfaction with one’s current stage of life (in light of what God can do with one’s productive singleness) and a pragmatic, logical approach to a usually emotion-based decision.