Let me start off by quickly saying that if I could choose between having a brilliant marriage and having a brilliant life as a single woman, I would definitely choose marriage. That is, I believe that marriage is “hands down” where you are better off as long as you are sure that the marriage is going to be excellent. (I mean “better off” in general terms, rather than financial terms).
However, this is true if you are sure that your marriage is actually going to be excellent.
I’ve been thinking a little about some of the reasons why people desire to get married, or at least some of the reasons why I desire to get married. Some of these reasons include: emotional intimacy, companionship, sex, financial security, being able to establish a family, partnership. All of these things are good, they are good to aspire after, they are worthwhile reasons for marriage. However, I believe that when we dream about marriage, we dream about the best possible manifestations of these things. That is, we dream about excellent emotional intimacy, we dream about honest, candid and loving communication, about tenderness and passion. Does no-one else ever do this? (That is, I know everyone does!) – When you are thinking about your future marriage you think: “Oh it would be so good if only I had a husband….and we will be walking along…we will be holding hands….we will be talking…we will be smiling at one another! [Or insert your own dream here!]”
I believe that what propels us into marriage is the hope of these things – love, communication, intimacy, unity, passion – expressed excellently. I don’t think that anyone ever sits around dreaming longingly about the arguments, the heated rows, the week-long sulks, the communication deadlocks, that one never-ending disagreement about money.
And yet this here is what marriage so often represents for so many people. For so many people the dreams that they have cultivated and nurtured before marriage so quickly disappear in the reality of the thing.
So these are the things you could realistically end up with instead of what you had dreamt of. These are real things that real spouses encounter everyday.
(Sometimes I ask myself whether I am guilty of overstating my points on this blog. Then I remember that 50% of marriages currently end up in divorce…and that of the remainder, 50% of those only struggle to avoid divorce…or maybe not, according to this new research)
Love – instead of gracious and unconditional acceptance of one another, one another’s flaws, you could end up with someone who criticises you constantly – or maybe even subtly pulls you down – which to me is just as bad.
Communication – instead of freely flowing, honest communication, you could find yourself with someone who cannot communicate and is not willing to try or learn, or who deliberately withholds vital information from you, someone who does not trust you, someone who “communicates” via anger, or violence…(what, you think this does not happen in the Church?!)
Partnership – instead of having two parties, working together to secure a great life for themselves and their children, you could find that you have been taken on merely as a glorified accessory to your spouse’s life. They do not seriously expect to consider your wishes, your goals, your aspirations in their plans, it is essentially a partnership of one.
I could go on about different aspects of marriage. However, I believe that anyone’s imagination would be more than able to fill in the blanks, perhaps from stories you have heard, accounts you have read.
And let us think now about things that you have to give up to get married in the first place. As a single woman, I arrange the order of my life around my own needs, which in English means that I do what I want, when I want! I get up, I go to sleep when I like, I eat what I like (which is often what I don’t like, actually – cabbage soup, anyone?!) I choose when to eat, I choose what to wear, how to spend my time. I go out when I like, no-one needs or expects me to be back at a certain time, I spend my own money as I see fit. Admittedly these freedoms will still have their own constraints, for instance I can’t spend money that I don’t actually have. All the same as a single woman I enjoy a lot more flexibility than I would as a married woman, as in marriage I would have to give up each last one of these – every last one – and so many others that I have not thought about, that might never occur to me! What if my husband finds a diplomatic way to ration my internet time – a real blow for someone like me who essentially lives online!
And what if you have to give up your career that you have invested so much effort into, because “Huggie-Wuggie” has always dreamt of being able to sustain a wife at home, and having a delicious meal waiting for him when he gets back from work?
And let me not forget this little biggie – marital submission – someone remind me, how exactly does that work again?!
When you look at what marriage can often turn out to be, despite the bright dreams beforehand, and when you consider all the things that you have to give up to get married, it is in comparison to these that I believe that a single life will OVERWHELMINGLY be better. That is, if you were to compare a single life to the expectation of an amazing married life, then yes, marriage would be better. However, if you were to compare a single life to the reality that often results from marriage, if you were to also consider everything that you have to give up, then surely singleness is by far the best option for self-respecting ladies (a very woman-centric post today – sorry guys!)
And yet, I believe that it does not have to be that way.
By the grace of God, I am a self-respecting lady, and I aspire to make choices that would be best for me and my life. However, I also desire to get married. I am aware that there will be sacrifices, (which will probably be a lot harder in practice than they are to glibly write about!) I know that for marriage to be worth my while, I have to insist on an excellent marriage. I have to insist on excellent character from my husband – I am in no way prepared to give up even the tiniest thing, for the “privilege” of tying myself to a joker for life. I have to take the time to assure myself of his superlative character, his superlative pursuit of Christ. I have to insist on an excellent foundation for our marriage and our future life together. I have to invest all the prayer I can pray for the sake of this thing. Otherwise you know what, I think I would be happier just as I am, doing my own sweet thing; what I want, when I want, how I want.
Ladies, I humbly suggest to you that you should take time to also consider this. Even if you are hoping and praying and yearning to get married, as I am – instead of throwing yourself away on the first man to call you “beautiful”, please insist on a marriage that will be worth your while.
A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself,
But the simple pass on and are punished.