Saturday, July 23, 2011

"The Cost of Delaying Marriage" Article Review

Please know that I am not trying to be offensive to anyone by posting these articles.  I think they are interesting  because of the way that I felt growing up, the messages I heard and, even after I became a believer in college, continued to hear.  This is a side of the feminist message that you rarely hear.  I encourage you to read both articles in their entirety.

The Cost of Delaying Marriage by Danielle Crittenden

“We strengthen a muscle by using it, and that is true of the heart and mind, too. By waiting and waiting and waiting to commit to someone, our capacity for love shrinks and withers. This doesn't mean that women or men should marry the first reasonable person to come along, or someone with whom they are not in love. But we should, at a much earlier age than we do now, take a serious attitude toward dating and begin preparing ourselves to settle down. For it's in the act of taking up the roles we've been taught to avoid or postpone — wife, husband, mother, father — that we build our identities, expand our lives, and achieve the fullness of character we desire.”

Although I married relatively young, I still heard, thought, and discussed many of the arguments stated in the next article:  Defending the “Cost of Delaying Marriage” by Candice Watters.  I can identify with many of the ideas presented in this article and can’t tell you how many times I discussed the following ideas with my friends during college:

Jesus is EnoughI’m not sure where this idea came from, but the author is right that “this belief seems to be an emerging motto of Christian singles everywhere”, particularly, from my experience, among Christian collegiates who are in the midst of training for future careers while coming to terms with God’s purpose of marriage and family.  I believed in college that wanting to be married somehow showed that I was not “completely satisfied” in my relationship with Jesus Christ.  In fact, this reasoning led to a completely unnecessary break-up between me and my husband for a time.  The truth is, I have never walked more deeply with the Lord since being married.

“For everyone else, the call is to marriage. To marry doesn't diminish the need for Christ. In fact, it increases it: The reason Christian marriage requires a vow is that no mere promise is enough to hold two mortals together for life. We're dependent on Christ to help us fulfill it. ”

It’s Not My Fault – Marriage is certainly not a priority on many young men’s minds.  But the author has a lot of wisdom on how young women aren’t exactly helping them get to that point:

“Now to you women, that's not an excuse to bash men. You have an important ability to help them move toward marriage. How? By esteeming it. By not being embarrassed about wanting it. By going after it -- to a point. You can nurture men toward marriage by helping them see that it contains a lot of what they're looking for, even if they don't yet know it.”

Singles Have More Fun – I’m not sure this is something my friends and I discussed in college, but it is certainly a pervasive message in modern culture and is glamorized in movies and tv shows like Sex and the City.  I think the first article has a lot to say about the reality of this situation, but for the Christian, there’s a deeper reason for marriage:  God called us to it.

“It's not about identity. It's about obedience. When it comes to marriage, we don't need a burning bush to know if it's God's will. He's already told us it is. If we're not specially gifted to be celibate, we're called to marriage. There's no third option; no lifestyle choice to remain single because it's more fun or more fulfilling or more spiritual than being married. Yes, if you're gifted with a calling to celibacy, a la Paul, then that is your duty. But if you're not -- and Scripture is clear that most of us aren't -- then our calling is marriage.”

Men are Jerks – Another pervasive cultural message that can be found in most media and women-oriented magazines (ironically right next to another article entitled something like, “How to Please Your Man”).   I know many young Christ-centered men who are anything but jerks and would be wonderful husbands.  By perpetuating this message to girls, how exactly are we setting up the future for young men and women?

There is much more to read in the article, and I encourage you to check it out.

Were you taught to believe any of these things?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Unexpected Joy in Being a Wife and Homemaker

When I first got married and started taking care of my own home, I remember a flood of memories  coming back to me when, as a child, I would spend most of my days playing “house”.  Other than “school”, I don’t think I really played anything else.  As a newlywed, there was an overwhelming sense of joy and purpose that I unexpectedly found in being a wife and homemaker.   I also distinctly remember thinking, “What the heck have I been doing the past couple of years?”  It was almost as if I had started preparing for being a wife during my childhood, but somehow those plans got kind of lost during adolescence for awhile, but finally, I was back on track to where I had always meant to be. 
Marriage has been the most fun season of life for me so far (good thing, too, since I’m planning on being married for quite some time).  Yes, there have been difficult days, and yes, it is difficult to daily learn how to die to your selfishness and put your spouse’s needs above your own.  But being a wife has been the most satisfying experience of my life to date.  And you don’t really hear many people saying that.  Instead, us girls are told to pursue our career, settle for no man, and don’t have babies too soon (or at least those were the messages I seemed to hear, watch, read, and believe).  My generation is told that high school and/or college are the “best years of your life”.  That being single and “having fun” brings satisfaction.  That husbands are “lazy and stupid” and wives tend to be “nagging and frivolous” (if you disagree with this analysis I challenge you to watch any modern sitcom about a married couple).  The problem with these messages are twofold: first, I have not found this to be true (although you may need to check with my husband about the nagging part since I may not be the best judge), so instead of preparing for marriage, I pursued other interests that left me unprepared for reality, and second, do you see how this is setting up marriages to fail?  If the “best days of our life” are spent single from 17-22 (really???) then there are two responses to this: 1.  We keep perpetuating those days until 35-40. Or 2. We get married and are bitter and dissatisfied that our “glory days” have past.  
I am writing these things to try to figure out why I believed that for many years it was wrong to want to be married.  For instance, I don’t think I would admit even in my senior year of college that I was ready to get married (Michael and I talked about it all the time but I would not tell many others that we had wedding plans).  We had been dating for the greater part of 7 years!!  But to admit that I wanted to be married or want children would mean that the party was ending too soon, my freedom would soon vanish.  I had “too much yet to be accomplished.”  I wanted to travel the world (or at least move to Florida for 6 months).  Did the thought even cross my mind that we could do it together, as a married couple?  Sadly, no.
The reason I find our culture’s view of marriage and family as so strange is that, at some point, most people will get married.  Most people, if they're honest, plan to marry and see themselves having some sort of family life.  It’s as if parents are scared to encourage and talk about a child’s future marriage, because once the idea is planted, then that child might elope at the age of 18 and “waste their life.”  Or I’m sure there are people who might read this and say, “Wait until you’re married 15, 20, 40 years….then you’ll understand why we don’t encourage it.”  And you would be right in thinking that I have not had much experience at this marriage thing so I admit that I know very, very little.  We haven’t even added kids to the mix yet!  BUT AT SOME POINT MOST PEOPLE WILL GET MARRIED.  To discourage it and act like it’s not going to happen or have a negative attitude towards it rarely sets up a successful marriage.  It is not easy to focus only on yourself for 23 years then transition immediately to focusing on another.  But God’s grace is sufficient and for that I am thankful.
I have been thinking about all of this in terms of – does my marriage reflect God’s purpose for marriage, for the glory of God?  Specifically, as Michael’s wife, do I reflect a Godly attitude in my role?  What is my attitude toward marriage when I talk to singles?  How will this change the way I parent my future sons and daughters? 
Recently, I read two bold, excellent articles about marriage in our culture.  I’m gonna share those links and my thoughts over the next few days.  Stay tuned!
I would love to hear any thoughts or suggestions that you have on this subject!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

"Why are you yelling?"

We've all heard the saying, "If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy."  I have found that this is true of wives, regardless if you have children or not.  It's amazing to me how quickly my mood can affect Michael's mood.  Women truly do set the emotional tone of the home.  If I come home in a bad mood, before I even realize what's happening, Michael and I are at odds over the littlest things.  Or if I am joyful, Michael is more joyful.  If Michael comes home in a bad mood, I have observed that my reaction is usually what can prolong it or temper it.

This can weigh heavily on me at times because, of the two of us, my temper tends to flare much more quickly.  In the midst of a disagreement, I tend to be the one who winds up yelling.  Michael and I have had arguments where all of a sudden, he will just stop and say, "Why are you yelling?"  Praise the Lord for a gentle, gracious husband. 

A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.  Proverbs 15:4