Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Responsibility vs. extended adolescence

I read this article today. 

And found it positively fascinating.

It's about men, but there could surely be an analagous article about women.

The whole extended adolescence thing never appealed to me (in myself or in others.)  I enjoyed my childhood, but readily embraced marriage and motherhood at ages 20 and 22, respectively. 

No, I don't think that was too young.  In fact, it is one of the best decisions I ever made.  I don't feel I missed out on anything (barhopping?  roommate drama?  fleeting career success?), and I believe my life has had great meaning at every stage.  I married my first boyfriend, the first man I ever loved.

Certainly not everyone is meant to marry before they can legally drink, but something seems amiss when a large portion of adults are more or less dating around and completely uninterested in any sort of serious commitment.  Life is about fun and hooking up and partying and maybe being in a relationship, but not a relationship that is actually GOing anywhere.

Some people are freaked out by the idea of marriage, but I was more afraid of the scene I just described.

When Kevin and I started dating, it was really more of a courtship.  I was 19, and he was 20, and we started pursuing a relationship to see if we should get married.  Once Kevin decided we should, he took my parents out to dinner (unbeknownst to me) and asked for my hand.  Maybe that seems ridiculously serious or even desperate for two kids in college, but it was quite the opposite.  Both of us were independent people, but we felt we were at a place where we could consider such things, and thought that we'd found something pretty great in each other.  And partly because of our commitment to chastity, we would not have dated/courted if we weren't within striking distance of wanting to marry.

Nearly nine years of marriage in, I'd say that yes, we found something incredibly priceless.  I'm especially glad that we found it when we did.  I think people have this idea that it's objectively best to wait as long as possible to marry, but I'm not so sure about that when  you consider the fact that the divorce rate has gone up right along with the average age of marriage.  Neither of us set out to marry young, but when we met, we discovered that it was time.

Where do we all end up in life, anyway?  Most of us--not all, but most--wind up married and raising children.  I think it would behoove us to prepare our children for that very thing, for the responsibilities that go along with it, and encourage them to pursue the virtues they'll need to be a good spouse/parent.  That doesn't mean they'll marry super young, or at all, but it's good training just the same.  Mostly I think it's about living life with purpose, intentionally, and becoming the person of virtue that God wants you to be.  The vocation of marriage (which includes parenthood) is the crucible God designed for many of us, through which to make us holy. 

Don't get me wrong: I DON'T think anyone should "rush" into marriage OR take it lightly (I certainly didn't), but I do think we should perhaps examine our priorities and how we're raising our kids.  Good food for thought, no?


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