Remember the scene in Billy Madison when Adam Sandler comes back to the elementary school and visits his young friends from the week before? They ask him how life in high school and he grabs the kid by the cheeks and says “Stay here! Don’t ever leave!” That is essentially the message that a lot of married people give us single people about marriage.
“Be sure.” “It’s really hard.” “It’s not what you think (not all romance, not all sex, hard work, my wife/husband is always. . . . etc). It’s like this constant warning that makes it seem as if marriage is some sort of prison. The funniest part is many of these same people are always setting us up on dates etc. So it’s hard, but you have to have it. What?!
Sometimes this can be helpful. The truth is that many people have marriage as an idol and it is always a good idea to knock down idols. So many of us as single people are whining about it and acting if we just got married our worlds would be fixed. That needs to be killed. But this can go bad in several ways.
First if you’re not careful it can dishonor your spouse. Second it makes a couple of assumptions. It assumes that I as a single person have no knowledge of marriage and the things that go on there. That’s usually not true. It also assumes that singleness is easy which it’s not. I think a lot of times it’s said to try to make us single folk feel better – I’ve been told so many times, “enjoy your singleness cause when it’s gone you lose the freedom to . . . ”
But the worst part about it is that it makes us not want to get married. No lie, I would say I’ve been affected by this. I think one of the reasons we have a higher rate of singleness in our culture (including the Church – oh Church please wake up to this stuff) is that married people are always degrading marriage. And to be honest it makes me not want to get married. Why would I want that?
Now this doesn’t mean don’t be real with your friends. If we are really going to talk about life and your marriage and what God is doing and all that is going on there then I say bring it and game on. I love you and I’m in it with you. That’s not what I’m talking about. What I’m talking about is that this seems to be one of the many default answers married people give single people about their singleness. It’s a lot easier than actually doing life and helping your single friend navigate what is going on. I think some of us need to be told, “hey you need to get married, even though it is hard”.
Billy needed to go to high school and grow. Most single people need to move toward marriage and learn how to grow there.
The real question about marriage is, is it worth it? Most of my friends would say yes. And that is a lot better answer. Something along the lines of, “Marriage is hard but worth it, I love my spouse” in the same way “having kids is harder but man I wouldn’t give one of them up”.
We need to be real about marriage to the point of killing the marriage idol. But we don’t need to be degrading of marriage to the point of pushing people away from it. And for sure we need to respect each other’s context and it’s unique challenges.