4 Myths on Delaying Marriage
June is finally over, and the wedding explosion on your social media that occurs every June is finally decreasing. I’m part of the trend—my husband and I just celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary during the month which The National Center for Health Statistics reports is the most popular month for weddings.
However, there’s another growing statistic about weddings that is deeply alarming: fewer and fewer people are tying the knot, and those who do are getting married later in life. Blogs and op-eds abound on the Internet with reasons to wait to get married, not to get married, and how to know you are ready for marriage. All of the articles agree that you should wait to marry until late 20s, most suggest waiting until your 30s.
There is not a magic age for getting married; it is a decision that necessitates wise counsel and prayer. However, after reading several articles against marriage, I’ve noticed that there are four common myths about marriage that may be swaying Christian singles away from marriage for unbiblical reasons. In full disclosure, I admit that I was a young bride. My husband and I were both 21 when we got married. However, I’d like to know when our culture suddenly decided that young adults (yes—adults) are incapable of making significant and/or important decisions?
Myth 1: There is no significant difference between unmarried Christian couples and unmarried non-Christian couples.
This is a foundational myth, a presuppositional myth—meaning it’s something many people believe without actually recognizing it. Being a Christian couple goes beyond commonly shared beliefs. Christ’s salvation transforms us to new life in Him, which has a deep impact on who we are as well as what we do. One specific difference is that Christians believe that sexual intimacy is reserved only for the marriage relationship.
While the world postpones marriage for several reasons, they do not postpone becoming intimate with each other.
Thus, when non-Christian blogs cite reasons why couples should postpone marriage, it is always couched within the belief that sexual intimacy acceptable—even preferable!—within the couple’s relationship. This difference is significant because as Christian couples may consider marriage according to the world’s myths, they neglect to consider that non-Christian couples are dissimilar to them at their very core. Christian couples must always recognize that there is a foundational difference between them and the world, which will effect what they believe and how they act out those beliefs. Thus Christian couples recognize that because sexual intimacy is designed to take place only within a marriage relationship, they should choose to wait or cease from sexual activity until then (regardless of sexual history). To put it bluntly, from the start, the world plays according to a different set of rules—rules that simply do not work when applied to Christian relationships.
Myth 2: You have to fully know yourself before you get married.
Embedded in this myth is the belief that, as you age, you transform into an entirely different person and you must not get married until you discover your true identity. The first problem with this view of marriage is that it perpetuates the idea that marriage is profoundly about yourself. Your spouse is only useful so long as he helps enhance who you believe you are as a person.
Ultimately—and unbiblically—it teaches that marriage is founded on a self-serving love rather than self-sacrificial love.
The second problem with this myth about marriage is that the concept of “knowing yourself” is completely subjective. Many young adults today seem to be under the belief that there is a secret person living inside of them, and if they live long enough, experience enough, and travel enough, then this “inner person” will blossom and they will finally “know who they are.”
The truth is we are always changing. Life changes us! In many ways, I’m not the same woman I was at 21 and I wouldn’t want to be. And I hope I’m not the same person at 50 that I am now at 28. My husband isn’t the same person either. I’m glad our marriage isn’t exactly like it was seven years ago. It has matured. It has deepened. It has grown. While it isn’t easy, the process of growing up and maturing is important and should happen, and there is definitely a place for growing and maturing as a single adult. What’s important to realize is that you will never stop growing as a person, single or married. Choosing to live a biblically examined life rather than just experiencing life is what will help prepare you for marriage.
Myth 3: You need to achieve financial stability before getting married.
This myth may sound responsible, and to a certain extent I agree with it. Both you and your spouse need to be mature and responsible enough to be able to hold down jobs, pay bills, and be able to generally live like adults. However, at its core I believe this myth is teaching Christian single women to focus on the wrong thing when considering a potential spouse. Don’t look past the person in order to see their annual income first, because current income is not a reflection of a person’s work ethic or future income.
There is a significant difference between someone who is lazy and isn’t making much money versus someone who is working to prepare himself to be a better provider.
A man with a poor work ethic often isn’t financially stable, so it is a valid red flag for a relationship. What’s more, poor work ethic transfers over more often than not into poor spiritual leadership. A Christ-honoring man with a good work ethic may not be at the peak of his financial career, but he may be trusted to protect and provide as you grow as a couple.
Working to build a life will be full of challenges and difficulties, but it also provides you as a couple the opportunity to learn and grow a new life together. The vulnerability shared during the years of a “rice and beans” budgets allows a closeness and appreciation in your marriage that has the potential to help strengthen you as a couple. In other words, just because you are not making your dream salary yet doesn’t mean you have to stay single until you do.
Myth 4: You won’t have as much fun after you’re tied down.
I wish this one was a joke, but I’ve actually heard it many times. Like I mentioned in the first myth, the world plays according to a different set of rules when it comes to relationships. Because most non-Christian couples have a different foundation upon which marriage is built, they portray marriage as a life of drudgery, responsibility, mortgages, and lame movie nights. I’ve heard several Christian singles spout off lines like, “I want to do this now because I can’t when I get married” to which I often want to reply, “why couldn’t you do that if you were married?”
After fleshing this myth out more, I believe it’s ultimately a lie of Satan attempting to lure strong Christian singles into a delayed period of adolescent living.
Realistically, there are few activities you cannot do married that you can do while single. However, getting married does require a spiritual/mental/emotional maturity that some singles don’t want to face yet. Claiming, “I need to do ‘X’ while still single” sounds much less immature than “I’d rather live like a adolescent a little longer.” In no way am I suggesting that all young adult Christian couples think this way, but I do believe all Christian young adults ought consider carefully the reasons behind a decision to delay marriage.
The world says your 20s are for making mistakes and having a lot of fun while you do it and then you “grow up” and get married. Christ calls us to more than that. Abundant life in Christ is not achieved through the world’s “live and learn” mantra. The world says marriage is just a serious commitment between two people who are serious adults. Scripture teaches that marriage is about two people—two sinful, still maturing people—who by God’s grace get to live their lives in Christ together. It’s not always (although sometimes can be) the glamorous, high action packed picture that Hollywood or the storybooks portray. It’s something much more beautiful, fulfilling, and real. It’s life. It’s fun.
There are many reasons why a couple should decide not to get married, or wait to get married. Marriage was created and blessed by God and should never be taken lightly. It’s a beautiful image of Christ’s relationship with us, His Bride, the Church. It’s mysterious and challenging, yet infinitely rewarding. There are plenty of biblical reasons why you may need to delay or postpone getting married, but don’t let the world’s inaccurate myths of marriage keep you from the blessings God may have intended for you to receive.