I was 7 years old and mom was getting old. She was 29. She had been happily married for a decade, was pregnant with her 4th child, and just starting to find a few gray hairs.
Even at 7, I knew that mom had started into marriage earlier than most. But I knew I wanted to get married before I was “old.” Then and there I planned to delay my inevitable nuptials until the staid and mature age of 23.
A lady needn’t tell her age; suffice it to say, 23 has come and gone. Since that fateful year, I have held down 6 different jobs, roomed with 25 different women, and worn 6 different bridesmaid dresses. At the moment, marriage isn’t clearly in sight.
It has been a good life so far, but hardly the one I anticipated. And I am grateful to know that there are other vibrant, intelligent and eligible women all around me who are unexpectedly still single. I’ve laughed and cried with many of them. I’ve also read and recommend some of their books—Carolyn McCulley’s Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? , Jennifer Marshall’s Now and Not Yet , and Connally Gilliam’s Revelations of a Single Woman .
But in a city where women well outnumber men, work hard and late, and get married later than almost anywhere else in the country this question lingers: what exactly am I waiting for?
I share Elizabeth Bennet’s preference that “only the deepest love” would lead to matrimony. But for Lizzie Bennet—and many nonfictional women like her—marriage served as the primary means by which one would secure any sort of financial security.
With such a functional motivator removed from most modern marriage equations, is marriage now primarily about finding love and happiness with another consenting adult?
No, I suggest that marriage is something far more prosaic and far more profound. It is bigger than my emotions, desires, or expectations. Bigger, even, than my love. Bigger than the love of a man who may yet show up at my door with a dozen roses and a diamond ring.
In their book, the Meaning of Marriage , Tim and Kathy Keller describe the origins and purpose of marriage:
Marriage did not evolve in the late Bronze Age as a way to determine property rights. At the climax of the Genesis account of creation we see God bringing a woman and a man together to unite them in marriage. The Bible begins with a wedding (of Adam and Eve) and ends in the book of Revelation with a wedding (of Christ and the church). Marriage is God’s idea. It is certainly also a human institution, and it reflects the character of the particular human culture in which it is embedded. But the concept and roots of human marriage are in God’s own action, and therefore what the Bible says about God’s design for marriage is crucial.
I understand marriage to be more divine gift, than an entitlement—more privilege than right. While one can prepare for and pursue marriage, it isn’t an award that’s merited by beauty, talent, intelligence, or financial security. (Good riddance!)
I know, firsthand, the obstacles to getting married. DC, I find, is full of one-way [relational] streets. And as several of my friends and peers have already been divorced, I observe the obstacles to staying married. I hope to gently explore some of those obstacles in future blog posts.
Just a few days before my little sister Hannah’s wedding, I heard Bruno Mars’ catchy “ I think I wanna marry you… ” on the radio. Thinking we might’ve hit on a wedding favorite, I pumped up the volume. The lyrics let me down a bit:
It's a beautiful night. We're looking for something dumb to do. Hey baby, I think I wanna marry you. Is it the look in your eyes? Or is it this dancing juice? Who cares, baby. I think I wanna marry you. If we wake up and you wanna break up, that's cool. No, I won't blame you. It was fun, girl.
It’s been about 18 months since I signed Hannah’s marriage certificate. She’s become a mother and braved the normal slings and arrows of a new married life. But earlier this week, she gave me a marriage update: her marriage hasn’t been something fun or dumb or spontaneous. But she finds herself married to her best friend. I pray for such a gift.Media: