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.
Sounds like you’re hanging around the wrong people. Marriage rocks.
Agreed, Brad! And saying that it doesn’t is making a lot of assumptions. Not every marriage is the same… thank goodness.
Marriage IS hard. The reason married people are always telling their single friends this fact is because they assume their married friends already know. I’ve been married for about 15 years, and some days it’s very hard and some days it’s not so hard. It’s probably just about as hard as being single, just for different reasons.
Is it worth it? For me it absolutely is. But the high rates of divorce and infidelity and people who stay married but constantly complain about it would indicate that for a lot of people, it’s not. I do think this makes a good case to not “settle.” Which, by the way, might be a good topic for a future post?
Yeah not settling could make it in. 🙂
May I apologize for any well-meaning but misguided married folks who have ever downplayed marriage or complained about marriage? I doubt that when “marrieds” do that kind of thing they really intend singleness as the result. They are either fruatrated, or reacting to what happens when their own “fairytale” belief about marriage hits reality.
I also wonder if that many married folks complain about marriage. Perhaps the complaints just stick with you more.
Marriage is hard. So what?! Anything worth doing is hard! But it is fun. And more important than that, marriage is a sacrament. It is a physical means of God giving grace to married people. We help each other grow closer to Christ, simply by virtue of being marriage. (We can cooperate with that grace, or reject it. But the grace is there, none-the-less.) And, when we cooperate with God’s grace in marriage, hard often becomes easy. Easy-hard.
Single friends, think of a time that you did something “hard,” while knowing that you were in the will of God. You probably really relied on Him during that time. And as you relied on Him, what was hard became easy. Or at least the choice was easy. That is what I mean by “easy-hard.”
Just as SOME single people have made marriage an idol, SOME married people have made singleness an idol. And it’s not even really singleness they have made an idol, but that time in their life they remember as “carefree” or “fun” usually those college years before they met and married their spouse. They assume that because I am single I am somehow still living that lifestyle. It’s really offensive to me actually. They have never been 30 and single, and believe me it’s very different than 20 and single! There are elements of adulthood that we all have to embrace, married or single. Both situations in life comes with challenges and benefits.
Great point – I hadn’t really thought of it that way. It points out something I thought about yesterday – Most of the people that I know that got married later don’t really say this much. Some do but not usually in a default answer sort of way, because they’ve lived both. They know both contexts are hard.
Thanks for your comment. Really resonates with me and my experiences
Human nature is egocentric so I think it is natural (and more widely accepted) to complain that the world will not devote itself to making me happy, whatever circumstance I’m in. The hard part is recognizing that attitude in myself and how it affects others and then doing something to change it. Also, I challenge the unwritten rule/assumption/excuse(?) that when you get married you must give up whatever activity or passion that helps to make you interesting in the first place. To what? Sit at home and hold hands?
Ok, your posts that I’ve read so far hit right at the heart of issues and I love it! This one too, marriage is looked down upon by SO much of our secular culture and it affects everything. Music, commercials. It’s especially disheartening when you see commercials where the wife is just so frustrated with her stupid husband because he can’t do anything right. It leaves this subconscious assumption that married women always need to fix their idiot spouses. It leads to weak marriages that began weak even during dating because men are receiving messages that they will be failures as men and women are receiving messages that they will never get to rest. Yeah, I wouldn’t want that, that’s disheartening. And so very, very false.
I love this post! I wonder if you’d be willing for me to use it on http://www.peacefulsinglegirl.wordpress.com?
I have now been married 18 years. And the first 15 years were pretty difficult – back when I was trying to control my husband and the marriage and my husband was passive and unplugged (now he writes a blog for husbands about marriage!). I accepted a LOT of messages from our culture about marriage, femininity, masculinity, etc. without question.
THEN God opened my eyes to HIS design – which is extremely countercultural and not at all PC, by the way. And our marriage has blossomed into the beautiful thing that God designed it to be. I have learned the feminine power of my respect and of stepping down and allowing my husband to lead. He has become such a godly, strong, selfless leader. God has done miracles in us! I actually have peace and joy in my heart every day. It is TOTAL BLISS! That is why I share what God has taught me with married women and with single women. The sooner all of us understand God’s good design, the better!
But I completely agree with you that marriage can become an idol. Husbands or wives can become idols. I guess we can easily make just about anything an idol! It’s easy to think marriage itself will fix all our problems and we will never be lonely again. But if we don’t obey God’s commands in scripture for us as husbands and wives, marriage can be excruciatingly painful. Marriage does bring out our selfishness, pride and sinfulness in ways that we could never have imagined. I’m so glad to be able to say that when we do obey God, we can see Him transform us into more holy, Christlike people. Without the power of the Holy Spirit, marriage can feel like a prison at times. I think that is by design – God wants us to have to look to Him for the power to do this! Marriage should keep us on our knees – and so should being a parent.
Our happiness is not God’s primary goal in our marriages. Marriage is about bringing great glory and honor to God! And it is about us becoming more mature and godly. It IS WONDERFUL and it IS WORTH IT! I LOVE being married now even more than the day we got married. I pray that God might use my story to help other women find God’s way much sooner than I did in my own marriage.
I pray that we as the church might display a holy and beautiful example of the very great mystery of the relationship between Christ and His church to the world in our marriages and that many may be drawn to Him!
Keep up the great work!
I know this blog is about marriage and singleness, but I was just having similar thoughts about having kids and was discussing it with Kevin (my husband). When I ask friends that are parents, they express to me that its such a blessing, but then they go on and on about how hard it is and how we should wait because we have plenty of time, etc. Why would I want to wait for such a blessing because its hard? It is confusing!
It’s very, very similar. At some level we just like to complain and make the grass greener on the other side. Here’s the other thing that pops in my head as well. You don’t get married just for you – it’s not a “get my needs met” type of thing, it’s a choosing to love the other person type of thing. I think the kid thing is the same type of deal.
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