Thursday, March 22, 2012

Til Whim Do Us Part?

I've been browsing Facebook lately--not surprising, given that I have NOT adopted M's Lenten resolution, although I do think the post below this is fantastic-- and I have been hit with several realizations:

1. My friends are getting engaged and married at a very rapid rate. I wonder if the incidence of younger people getting engaged has increased due to the "pressure" of seeing seemingly everyone else on Facebook looking happy with their new sparklers.

2. I need more than two hands to count the number of people my age who are having babies legitimately. There were always people having babies, but now there are people having planned, post-marriage babies. Sometimes two. A few have had/are having three. This is crazy to me! Exciting, I guess, but crazy.

3. I know of at least 3 people who have been engaged, married, and divorced before they turn 25.

It's weird how four people who are all 25 can be in SUCH different stages of life-- one can be totally single, one married without kids, one married with a kid (or 3), and one already married and consequently divorced. And Facebook allows us to keep track of who falls into which category. It inevitably makes some of the single ones feel like they're missing out, some of the married ones wonder if they should be having kids already, and (I'd guess) some of the parents feel weary to see what a typical early-20s life can look like without kids, even if they love theirs dearly.

But this whole, "married and divorced within a year" thing is really troubling to me. Has this always been the case for a handful of people? Was it brushed under the rug without a social media site to document your divorce with a (reverse) name change and a broken heart icon?

I know that people get divorced for very legitimate and necessary reasons at times. I would never want someone who was in danger to stay in an abusive marriage. I also know that this whole post reeks of judgment. But there is something that feels inherently more-wrong about a quickie divorce than one where two people tried everything they could for decades before splitting.

How does this happen? Do people take their vows too lightly? Do people rush into marriage too quickly? Does our culture glamorize weddings to the point where getting engaged is about the event itself rather than the lifetime commitment? Is there some major, heartbreaking issue that only comes to light post-wedding?

Probably a little bit of everything, although I'd be inclined to believe that a secret major issue had to have shown some warning signs before the nuptials.

And what about the TENS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS? The money spent on the ring, the showers, the gifts, time-off that guests take from work, their flights and hotel costs, the wedding itself, the honeymoon, the moving in together, the just feels so irresponsible to not even give it a real shot before packing up and moving on (oh hey, Kim Kardashian!).

Again, I know this post is super judge-y. In a way, I'm not quite sure how to express my downright bewilderment and concern without it feeling judge-y.

I guess what I'm saying is this: don't jump into marrying someone just because you're in love with them, or because it's convenient, or because everyone else is getting married and it seems so fun. Don't jump into marrying someone even if you're already engaged and have bought a dress and put a $10,000 down payment on a venue if you know, in your gut, that things aren't right. Because inevitably, you'll find yourself realizing one day that being in love is not enough, and convenience is not enough, that it's not always fun, and that those things that bother you before marriage will bother you infinitely more during marriage... and then you're stuck.

And if you're stuck and it seems like you made a mistake...then at least stay stuck for a few more years and see if things don't get better. Marriage Today cites that 80% of people on the brink of divorce who choose not to go through with it report being HAPPY with their marriage 5 years later. Regardless of what celebrities are doing, regardless of what politicians are saying about preserving the "sanctity of marriage"... young people have to stop treating marriage as if it's like buying a new car that you can trade in and upgrade when you get tired of it.

Instead, we need to think of marriage as a 1995 rusted pick-up that needs constant upkeep, new brakes, pit-stops to refuel, and a good scrub every now and then. It's our job to do everything in our power to keep that car running no matter what the conditions are outside, or what we feel like driving, or how frustrated it makes us. Because we have stood before God, our family, and our friends and made the commitment not to give up on each other, and that's GOT to mean something.


  1. People do jump into things too fast and don't give enough credit (or time) to pre-marital and newlywed professional counseling.

    Everyone has baggage from their childhood~the wedding day, and it behooves everyone to undergo self healthy self-introspection while still single to figure out how they can best deal with their own personal issues before they drag all that luggage into a relationship that's meant to last a lifetime.

    On top of that, people have become so brainwashed by Hollywood and the ever elusive/unrealistic "happy ending," and don't realize that marriage is a lot of hard work and isn't happy all the time. There is no end goal, but rather the process of having a travel buddy to journey with on the road of life, through its ups, downs, pit stops and flat tires that makes marriage worthwhile.

    I highly recommend anyone seriously thinking of marriage to get several months of pre-marital counseling (not to knock religious figures, but I'm talking about licensed marriage therapists) and several months of couples counseling during the first year to ensure a successful melding into marriage.

    Clear communication is also a big issue that people don't seem to realize is absolutely essential to having a functional marriage. If you can't talk to your spouse about your own problems or things you are concerned about in his/her life, then the issues will fester and cause further damage. Counseling can help develop a person's ability to communicate thoughtfully, respectfully and clearly as well.