This was originally posted in July 2013. At the end, I’m going to add the most articulate and strenuous comment in objection to the post. Partly for context, and partly because I am fairly certain one of my daughters agrees with Christina more than with me.
I was thinking about the epidemic of divorce in our culture. Things have changed a great deal in the past 75 years or so. Parents are not intimately involved when their children choose a mate. Young women are groomed for the market place rather than the home, and marriage is viewed as an addendum to a full life rather than the beginning of adulthood itself.
There are many obstacles to successful young marriages in this climate. Alte outlines in great detail the hurdles standing between young men and marriage in this post. The lack of incentives to marriage for young men have caused many to check out. In addition, we have young women being encouraged to delay marriage* until they feel ready to have children, then setting out to find a husband to get that item checked off their list.
With this lackadaisical approach to marriage and the ease with which even Christians divorce, this is a disastrous path that we must discourage our daughters from taking. It is not the foundation for lasting marriage. The primary foundation is Christ, first and foremost.
However, I left these sentiments (expanded a bit here) at Sunshine Mary’s recently because I think it is also pertinent, given that women initiate 2/3 of the divorces in this country:
There are two types of women who marry. Those women who want to be mothers and set out to find a man to marry. They are often quick to say that they “love children” on the first date. They are often well educated and have done quite well in their chosen careers.
And then, are those women who meet a particular man, want him and want to have his babies. The marriage is the way to sanction their ability to fulfill that. They want him and are prepared for all that goes along with that.
The latter group is a better marriage risk in 2013, this age of decadence where marriage is more often initiated by feelings rather than love in its truest sense.
It’s one of the very reasons I am vehemently against women building careers and personal monuments before considering marriage, even if they are chaste while doing so. That path treats marriage like an afterthought, children as accessories, and men as a means to an end. It also makes it much easier to dispose of the marriage when the checklist has been fulfilled.
Marriage and motherhood is a vocation all its own.
College and the marketplace will always be there. The vitality, fertility, and the openness of heart and mind that accompanies with youth will not.
There is a difference between being open to marriage and meeting someone you are prepared to give it all for versus spending years pursuing personal ambition and grabbing a poor sucker to inseminate you for your coveted babies. But if you do that, as a Christian you are not exempt from all the responsibilities and standards required to be a godly, faithful wife simply because you are suddenly not in love anymore.
Marriage is more about making us holy than it is making us happy anyway. Believers used to know that, which is why even arranged marriages managed to last and produce many children. However, times have changed, and we largely choose our mates with little to no family assistance driven primarily by emotion.
This new system means that early marriage is a net advantage rather than a disadvantage. Better to marry when you’re young, naive and horny than when you think you have it all together and know who you are. The former person is teachable and able to grow. The latter, not so much.
Children are not a fashion accessory that we pick up on the way out the door as an afterthought because we were so busy we “forgot” to do it sooner. We need to change the way we do things. Oh, did I mention that this modern trend undermines chastity? Well it does.
* I know for sure that there are women who desired to marry young for whom it didn’t work out that way for various reasons despite being attractive, faithful, and eager. This post speaks to the current trend of parents discouraging their young people from marrying young and building a life from the ground up with the mate.
Christina commented on my post at the time:
“This is wrong. I would’ve commented earlier, but I was having trouble forming an argument to explain why I thought it was wrong, but the conversation about the alpha-male at SSM’s just kinda made it more clear to me.
The bad guy is not the woman that wants a family and a husband to make that a reality. The bad guy is not the woman that is looking for a man to provide the financial support to help raise a family. ESPECIALLY when she is also of the mindset that children need their fathers and divorce is damaging to HER CHILDREN THAT SHE WANTS SO BADLY. We need MORE of these women, not less.
As to the woman who is “so in love” that she wants to have “his babies,” you know who says stuff like that? Teeny-boppers about Justin Bieber. Psychopathic, stalker types about the hot, Brad Pitt look-a-like. We do NOT need more of THEM. Much less, thank you. THOSE are the ones that think children are an accessory… something they can bring along with them and say “LOOK!!! This is MY baby… and you’ll NEVER guess who the father is… JUSTIN BIEBER!!! It’s ok to be jealous… I would be, too, if I weren’t me!”
Arranged marriage didn’t work because they felt “in love” and wanted to have “his babies.” They worked because the parents arranged it with a financially secure and emotionally stable man. It worked because they were difficult to get out of and because the woman typically WANTED children. They didn’t usually want the man, they wanted the babies. And for the lucky woman who married a man who chose to LOVE her, she would want him, too.
But now we live in a society where women would rather abort their children than raise them. We need more women who want to raise children to be solid people. I don’t know… my 5-year-old self certainly wanted babies because they were just so darn cute, but my 17-18 year old self (thanks to good parenting or something that infected my brain and just made me ultra traditional and hard-core Christian) wanted to change the world with my children. Pass on my values, my faith, my morals… teach them so they can be bright lights in enclosing darkness… and the darker it gets, the brighter they’ll be. My 5 year old self didn’t want a husband (boys were gross, bleh)… but you have to be married to have babies. So marriage was always part of the plan.
So I’m a bad bad bad woman who thinks my children are mere accessories? No… I just have a much much much more old-school and traditional view of marriage. Sometimes I think I’m heartless, but I do, indeed, love my husband. I’m just not much of a romantic…”
My response to her at the time was as follows:
“Okay Christina. I have given this one a lot of thought. It’s actually been a mental distraction to me.
I appreciate what you are saying and I can see how my comments sound overly emotion/libido driven; “like a teeny bopper”, if you will. I can accept that there may be holes in my logic while still respectfully disagreeing with you. And I do disagree.
~ Wanting to be a mother is not sufficient reason alone to get married in my opinion. Even Scripture suggests that one is better off remaining single unless he/she burns with sexual desire.
~ A decent Christian woman (even a decent secular woman) has sense enough to marry a man who will be a “good father” however you define that. My husband, despite being less than perfect on [metaphorical] paper was a man of high integrity with a strong ethical code. And he cared about me deeply. Is there any other criteria to consider than that for whether a man will be a good father?
~The problem with “I want kids let me find a husband” is that the children leave. When they do, you’d better darn well have married your spouse for more than their potential parenting abilities.
~ Infertile couples, couples who lose their only child and the aforementioned empty nesters are all couples for who there must be something more to keep the relationship afloat.
At the very least, if you’re passionate about the person, you can weather these trials in a way that is much less difficult than if you don’t.
Now, having said all of that…
I am not suggesting that emotion be the only driver of who we marry. I mentioned on the other thread that despite massive tingles, it took a while (and some vouching from a longtime family friend) before I gave serious consideration to my husband’s pursuit.
Additionally, for the wife truly following Christ, commitment to honoring your vows, submission, upholding your end of the marriage bargain, and loving your spouse as Christ commanded and demonstrated will take your marriage to places where passion simply cannot. It was never my intent to argue otherwise.
My point (and I stand by it) is that looking for a husband specifically for the purpose of fulfilling a personal aspiration toward motherhood is not a good bet toward happy, fulfilling, lifelong marriage.
The question isn’t whether or not you want to be a mother. Contrary to popular propaganda, that’s relatively easy because we love our children instinctively. The question to ask before marrying is whether or not you’re prepared to be a faithful, respectful, submissive wife, and if you’re marrying a man for whom you’re willing to do that.
100 years ago these debates were foreign because we understood that nothing less than lifelong marriage and fidelity was acceptable. The man was the official head of his home. Being a shrew was frowned upon and being divorced was shameful.
But it’s not 1913.”
Adding those two comments made this much longer than my usual 1200 word max, but I thought they were relevant.