Category: marriage

5 Things People Think About Marriage and Growing Up That Are Wrong

The following are actual statements I’ve read or heard in just the last few weeks about marriage and life, and I assume many people believe them. And because the way a culture thinks about marriage greatly influences said culture, we need to be thinking rightly about it and helping others do the same. Especially our children.
  • Criteria for a “good husband”: Is he good looking and does he make a lot of money?

This statement came from a woman who lived during the Great Depression. I get it. I really do. At least the last part. (The first part–really?) And honestly, don’t we all struggle with the money thing somewhere deep down? Money translates security. And who doesn’t want that?

The usual argument might go, “Well, you know how hard it can be on a marriage with financial struggles.” And that’s true. It can be hard. It can also be hard on a marriage when work-demands from a high-paying job deplete a relationship. It can also be hard on a marriage when greed and selfishness take over, or when status becomes more important than sitting on the front porch together, or when a couple gets trapped in the automobile-upgrade-because-our-neighbors-did game.

I’ve never heard one person warn a youngster about the dangers of making too much money. If we aren’t going to be honest, we should be quiet. The divorce rate doesn’t favor the poor or the rich. Seems financial security or the lack thereof doesn’t offer much indication of the success of the marriage. Maybe there are other things, far more important than the paycheck, that do.

  • You can’t get to know someone in less than a year.

Actually, that’s both true and false. The truth is, you can’t really get to know someone until you live with them. Period. But can you get to know someone’s character, get a feel for your compatibility in less than a year? Absolutely. There is no special time frame for relationship milestones.

  • College and becoming who you want to be and discovering yourself and your career should be much more important than getting married and tying yourself down to a commitment when the discovery of yourself has not yet been found. College is a time for individuals to discover themselves and find their paths in life. Marriage would greatly inhibit this. You cannot grow with another person until you fully know yourself. I am doubtful that anyone ranging from the ages 18-23 has fully found themselves yet. (Comment left here on the blog.)

Wow. Many people actually do believe this. “Finding one’s self” is highly overrated not a thing. The problem with most of us, in fact, is the quest to find one’s self propels one on an unending, self-absorbed search that kills what is most crucial in the human spirit–serving outside of self. We learn who we are only in the context of other people. That’s how we were made. Without commitment and responsibility to others we self-destruct. Marriage and family are the path to true discovery–wherever you are in a family.  It’s how we grow up and find ourselves.

  • My worst fear is how I’m going to pay for their college.

I find it almost unbelievable that we have elevated college to the place that it causes us this kind of fear. How about we put our energy into raising children who will grow up with upright character so they can face what life will inevitably throw at them. Let’s hope they become responsible, faithful, wise and honest, whether they go to college or not. Let’s pray they become followers of Christ. That they find godly spouses and seek first the Kingdom of God. Those are the things we should be afraid of their missing out on. Not a ginormous debt  they might not even need. Furthermore, parents shouldn’t “fear” paying for college when that isn’t even an entitlement. College is not a requirement for the good life. Character is.

  • You need to have all your ducks in a row before you start a family.

Whatever ducks you may have in a row are likely to change in a few years so don’t count your ducks before they waddle off. We make too much of “having it all together”, in my opinion, these days. Whatever happened to couples figuring out life together, easing the burdens by helping each other, and growing in love and security and wisdom having been through the beautiful catalyst of trials together? Do we need a plan? Yes, though it will likely change a few times. More important than the plan then, are the marks of ambition, work ethic and wisdom that will fortify a family through anything. We do our children great harm, I think, when we deprive them of building families on the pretense that “security” is more important. “Seek first the Kingdom…” and everything else will be added is what He says.

We Don’t Get Marriage (And That Makes Us Say Dumb Stuff)

As I enter that time in life where my children grow into adults and my friends’ children do the same, marriage is a hot topic. And our grown-up kids are bombarded with unsolicited advice:

“Don’t get married unless you’re ready.”

“Don’t get married too young.”

“Don’t get married too old.”

“Don’t get married and have a baby right away.”

“Don’t get married and wait too long to have a baby.”

Seems we have constructed “perfect parameters” for the major milestones in life and those who fall outside of them are, well, not perfect. Or something.

And I tell you what I think…I think we really don’t get marriage. And I mean even those of us who think we do are so immersed in a secular view of it that we forget. We don’t know what it’s for and so our “advice” becomes empty and even destructive.

The purpose of marriage.

First, marriage is something God made, not us, and so He gets to determine its purpose. The very first glimpse of marriage that God gave us is still our clue into why He created it. Basically, Adam had a big job to do and he needed someone to help him do it.

And what was that big job? The same one we still have. Our complete existence in this life is to make known the glory of God and the reign of Christ on earth.

Not only that, but marriage was the way God would speak to the world about His unconditional love for His Church. He needed a real-life demonstration.

But the vast majority of us think marriage is to make us fulfilled and happy. Or worse, that marriage is something to delay so one can be fulfilled and happy first. Fulfillment and happiness are a common by-product of marriage, but not its purpose.

When we, or if we will force ourselves to deprogram from the movies and books and improper relationships from our lives, then we might be able to reexamine God’s design for marriage which should then equip us with wiser counsel for the young who are entering adulthood.

And as I see it:

  • Marriage is something we need, not just something we desire. That small difference changes how we think.
  • Marriage fulfills important work in the Kingdom of God; it’s not just a rite of passage in our culture.
  • Marriage is good. Marriage is God’s.
  • Marriage accomplishes what singleness cannot. Suffice it to say, that the few who have been called to singleness also accomplish what the married cannot. But for most people, singleness is not their calling. And as such, they are better with a spouse. Even singles live within a context of families. The whole Bible is a family portrait, with all playing an important part in tha portrait.

So, fleshing out our purpose and the purpose of marriage, how should that change our idea of the if, whens and hows?

As children become adults it is right and fitting that they transition into their own families. It’s part of the multiplying we were commanded to in Genesis.  It’s a parents’ job to equip them for this transition.

Just as Adam needed help in his calling, so men today still need help. And just as Eve complemented him, so we still complement our husbands.

What calling? The overarching calling of pointing the world to Christ. And while we do different things and are placed in different situations, we still all are called to unite together in that mission of glorifying Christ and revealing the Gospel to the world.

Practically applying our purpose.

Practically speaking, we work, build, play, pray, disciple and grow together toward that end. And marriage is an integral part of that, with the dual purpose of the living metaphor of the church and her Groom.

When we really, truly get concerned with the business of God, seeing things from His perspective and desiring to carry out the mission His people have been given, it changes our petty parameters and foolish notions of marriage.We don’t obsess about getting married, but we certainly don’t treat it as an afterthought–something to be done after one has found himself. Ideally, a couple grows up together. Hardship and lack of experience is a boon to the success of marriage, not a hindrance.

The Singleness Disclaimer

I know there are young people who long to get married who aren’t. I think we must be sensitive to them and this post isn’t meant to imply that we “push” marriage to the extent we discourage those who are single. I fully believe that while a person is single, they are living fully if they are living for God’s glory. The single years are a fabulous time of serving and learning and growing. It should not be looked down upon. But neither should we encourage our children to think that marriage is second-rate and “full of woe”, encouraging them to wait for the perfect scenario. They are looking to us  for their cues and we should be saying “marriage is a good thing.”

I pray the older generation (that’s us!) will take seriously the responsibility we’ve been given to speak truth into the next generation. We must get our theology of marriage right or the whole course is off from there. Let’s use reason with wisdom as we encourage the young adults around us. Let’s give them hope and a vision of purpose. Let’s share God’s love of covenant marriage and do all we can to encourage it. Let’s talk to them about how they can move toward marriage not about why they should avoid it.

 

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5 Things That Can Weigh Down Your Marriage (Darlene Schacht)

Darlene at The Time-Warp Wife shares some good words for our marriages. What are  you challenged by?

“About fifteen years ago my husbands brother won $25,ooo from one of those scratch and win cards. I don’t remember the details all that well, but I do remember this: the night that he won, he slept with the ticket under his pillow. He had to wait until morning to take the ticket downtown to the lottery building, and he wasn’t taking any chances on losing the ticket or having it stolen.

It makes sense that someone would guard a treasure like that, I probably would too. What doesn’t make sense is when we don’t guard our marriage. Perhaps we don’t realize how quickly it can be taken away or how easily friendship can be lost when we don’t care for another the way that we should.

What weighs down a marriage, and what can we do to combat it?” Read the rest at The Time-Warp Wife

 

(Be My Valentine) True Romance Looks Very Different From a Movie

All of us were probably swept away at some time or the other. I remember meeting my husband. We worked together. Just seeing him show up made my heart beat faster. And for our 2 dating years, we stared into eyes and thought we were more romantic than any other couple. We were helplessly in love.

But we weren’t in love at all. Not even a bit. Love would have to grow. And be tested. And stretch and grow some more.

Now we are in love. In a true, steady, weathering kind of love.

We have walked beside each other through vomit, writhing childbirth, injuries, tears, dirty diapers, financial stress, bad breath, grief, losing all that’s familiar, rough, hard-working hands and a hundred other things that get in the way of staring deeply into eyes.

But when we do get the chance between nursing the baby and listening to the dreams of a newly become adult, our eyes mirror a history that is more romantic than any dinner date with wine. A history that bonds and glues hearts together.

And now we watch as our children find “true love”, our lessons not learned, and our notions that love is all sparks, and we forget that they can’t know love yet. They can find someone whom they respect, and enjoy and with whom they are compatible in different ways, but love? True love waits. In the most literal sense.

Hollywood can have its shallow romance that tries to pretend sparks and candlelight are the stuff of love. Those are nice, but they’re only additives.

Give me the man who fills my car up with gas, who washes dishes just because, who braves the cold to work for us, who lets me sleep in when the baby keeps me up at night, who never complains about my faults, who selflessly loves and leads us, who listens and encourages and comforts me just by his presence.

 

Now that’s romance.

My True Valentine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why We Should Encourage Our Kids to Marry Young

Occasionally someone ventures outside the cultural marriage norms and makes the case for getting married young, but generally, it’s ingrained deep within us all that there’s an acceptable age to marry,  and to do so before that is unwise.

But is it?

We admit there’s an epidemic of adults who are over-sized children though the full weight of it hasn’t fully been realized.  But we’re slow to admit where blame lies. And even if we did, would we be willing to shift the paradigm?

I submit two major things are causing adults to delay marriage, negatively impacting their own adulthood and maturity, and ultimately, all of us.

  • The adolescent culture
  • The worship of education

Adolescent culture

Since around 1905, when G. Stanley Hall named the adolescent period, Americans have increasingly coddled their children, protecting their “right” to childhood, long after what has formerly been called childhood, has ended. Now we have a culture of parents who protect, shield and defend to a fault. They require little work and responsibility for fear it will hamper their fun and they elevate extra curricular opportunities over the practical preparation for life.

So we have “Generation Y”, the narcissistic generation who wants a ribbon for showing up. Their parents did something wrong.

Answer? We need to balance the natural freedoms and privileges of childhood with our responsibility to help them grow in maturity and wisdom. We need to expect things–important, life things that will help them transition into adulthood when the time comes. We need to let them experience things, while guiding them and pushing them to find truth, to view the world through the lens of God’s Word, where they will find answers for everything.

We need to change our idea of the “teen years.” We are raising children into adults. Those in between years are the most potent for developing skills, learning, training, preparing and practicing for adult life. These are not years to be frittered away. These are the years where we challenge them and they rise to the challenge of womanhood and manhood, the years of their best strength and courage, where vision is best cast. Youth is where character is grown and practiced,  responsibility takes root, and self-control must reign.

Worship of Education

The first one was easy; for this one, buckle up.

We could have the talk about the unnecessary hype of college but that would take too long. If we could understand that college may be necessary for highly specialized vocations, but generally, not necessary for a good education and training in most vocations, we would begin the process of demoting the college degree from some idolized status. It is now, especially in our highly technological age, only one of many ways to a higher education, not the least of which is laborious and expensive.

Too often marriage is pushed off  until after college. First, college has taken precedence over the importance of marriage. Second, it is assumed that both can’t be done simultaneously.

Sadly, too, in many cases college extends (or worsens) the adolescent stage. Parents pay for their adult children to live (and/or party) during the time they should be assuming those responsibilities.

We’ve given the pursuit of (let’s be honest) more money precedent over the pursuit of a godly spouse.

Why We Should Support Early Marriage

Marriage is good. Marriage is a gift. Marriage makes us grow up, gives us a companion to weather the stuff of life. Announce you’re getting married before the “acceptable” age, and you’ll mostly be met with pleads of “live some life first.” And while the single state has its unique opportunities, marriage certainly doesn’t detract from the joys of life, but rather doubles them.

Are You Ready?

Waiting until we’re “ready” can be a precarious thing. What is “ready”?

Financial readiness is the primary reason caution is offered to young couples. Somehow, just having an income isn’t enough in our American idealistic dream. Mark Regnerus, in “The Case for Early Marriage” said:

“Marrying young can spell poverty, at least temporarily. Yet the mentality that we need to shield young adults from the usual struggles of life by encouraging them to delay marriage until they are financially secure usually rests on an unrealistic standard of living. Good marriages grow through struggles, including economic ones. My wife and I are still fiscal conservatives because of our early days of austerity….

Nevertheless, the economic domain remains an area in which many parents are often able, but frequently unwilling, to assist their children….This cultural predilection toward punishing rather than blessing marriage must go, and congregations and churchgoers can help by dropping their own punitive positions toward family members, as well as by identifying deserving young couples who could use a little extra help once in a while. Christians are great about supporting their missionaries, but in this matter, we can be missionaries to the marriages in our midst.”

What about ready in other ways?  Everything I was when I got married has changed. Everything I thought about life has changed. I’ve grown. I’ve learned. I’ve morphed.

Our growing and changing and morphing is best done with our life partner alongside us. Every step toward “establishing ourselves” as adults without our spouse, is a step toward stubborn independence.

We need the companion, accountability and responsibility marriage brings, and we need it earlier rather than later.

Sure there are exceptions, good reasons to wait. But our prevailing attitude should be to think differently, to love and embrace marriage, not just for “one day”, but as something to be desired, sought after and celebrated in youth.

 

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