Recently, a Facebook friend of mine shared this blog post entitled “23 Things To Do Instead of Getting Engaged Before You’re 23” (warning – the original article contains some language that may make some feel uncomfortable).
Now, before I delve into everything that I find completely wrong with Vanessa’s post, let me be clear – I don’t think marrying young is for everyone. I don’t think that marriage period is for everyone.
Being married is not something that just happens to you. While it is often treated like it is on a checklist of expectations somewhere between graduating college and buying a house for the first time, entering marriage is a big freaking deal.
It is a lifelong project that requires constant work and attention. That is an enormous dedication to make to another person, a dedication that not everyone is called to make. Even Paul says that those who are single should consider it a gift to be used for God (1 Corinthians 7:6-9).
If Vanessa had approached the topic of being young and single from this point of view, or even just discussed embracing her singleness from a secular point of view, I would completely understand and even agree with her. After all, if you’re not married with zero prospects, what good does it do to mope about it? Get out there and enjoy every day of life you’re granted.
But that’s not what Vanessa did at all. She took her opportunity to present a positive viewpoint of being single during a time where that’s no so easy and used it to trash the institution of marriage as a whole. She insinuates that anyone who marries at a young age does it because it is “hip and cool,” or because they are looking for a “safety blanket…an admission that the world is just too big and scary to deal with it on your own.”
On nights when she feels lonely and finds herself wishing that she was with someone, Vanessa consoles herself with the fact that “those [married] friends are going to get knocked up and fat soon sssoooo in retrospect, who is really winning here.”
Before even looking at her shockingly immature list of “23 Things to do Instead of Getting Engaged Before You’re 23,” I was convinced of one thing:
Vanessa is not happy about being single.
If she were, why would she so vitriolically label everyone who gets married at a young age to be making a horrific decision that will only end in divorce or dissatisfaction? Why does she mock the sexually inexperienced? Why does she say over and over and over again, in several different ways, that life after marriage is no life at all?
Because what she is saying is pure, unadulterated bull.
If her list had contained sound pieces of advice like “graduate college first” or “get a grown-up job,” I’d understand. But the items on Vanessa’s list only show me how immature she – and apparently a great majority of her audience – must be.
Here is my response to her list of things to do before being engaged or married, the things that I supposedly cannot do now that I have been so tragically joined in matrimony to the love of my life at the age of 22:
“1. Get a passport.”
Now that I am married, living in a two-income family, I am more equipped to travel the world than I ever have been before. We have plans to visit New Zealand and Germany within the next decade – together. Traveling alone, while I am sure it is fun, is not nearly as safe or enjoyable as traveling with the love of your life.
“2. Find your ‘thing.'”
This is so vague and I’m not even really sure what it is supposed to mean. I’m guessing that it might mean that you should develop a hobby or find something you’re interested in, which is something that I have actually found easier to do when I’m with my husband. A supportive spouse helps keep you on track when you have doubts about what you can do.
“3. Make out with a stranger.”
Um…Vanessa claims that she’s 22 years old, but I have to say that this seems like something that would make the ambitions list of a college freshman at her first frat party at best. How is this supposed to make you a better person? If I were to say “Hey, I had the craziest night last night – I let this guy slobber in my mouth,” I doubt I’d get a positive reaction to that. Making out with a stranger – just as gross. I prefer kissing people that I care about – like my husband. And, unlike a stranger, he knows how I like to be kissed.
“4. Adopt a pet.”
I did this once. Of course, I was engaged at the time…
“5. Start a band.”
Because there have never been any musicians, famous or otherwise, who were able to launch a music career because they were engaged or married.
“6. Make a cake. Make a second cake. Have your cake and eat it too.”
I make tasty, yummy food all the time. And my husband eats it with me. That’s the funny thing about husbands – they eat cake, too.
“7. Get a tattoo. It’s more permanent than a marriage.“
Careful, Vanessa – your bitterness is showing. There is nothing preventing me from getting a tattoo right now except my own fear of needles and crippling indecisiveness.
“8. Explore a new religion.”
Unless you feel a particular urge to do this, why would this make you a better person? I don’t see the point in participating in another religion for kicks and giggles, and I’m not sure I’d trust anyone that would.
“9. Start a small business.”
If you want to start a small business, it seems like having a spouse with a steady income would even more enable you to do so, rather than hinder you. But what do I know? I’m just some dumb girl that got married before the age of 23.
“10. Cut your hair.”
Way ahead of you, Vanessa. I’ve actually been doing this since the age of 1!
“11. Date two people at once and see how long it takes to blow up in your face.“
If this sounds like a good idea to you, I hate to break it to you – you are either an evil or stupid. Only someone completely devoid of compassion would set out to toy with two lives just to mark an item off of an arbitrarily composed checklist. I don’t care if you are a Christian, or participate in another religion, or have no faith – this is immoral, and you know it.
“12. Build something with your hands.”
Before I met my husband, I knew that when I inserted the key into my car’s ignition, it cranked. I knew that when I hit the gas pedal, it went faster, and that when I hit the brake, it slowed down. That was literally all that I knew about automobiles. When I started dating him, he took time to show me how to change the oil in my car, pointed out various things under the hood and helped me identify the different components. He taught me how to change a tire, and how to drive a manual transmission car. This may not qualify as building something with my hands, but he took the time to teach me things that girls are not usually taught, helping me to become more independent even as we became an engaged, and then later, a married couple. We can learn things from boys, girls, especially when it comes to building or working on things.
“13. Accomplish a Pinterest project.“
I think I’ve done this fifteen or twenty times. Most of them were for my wedding decorations (I was engaged at the time). Since then, they’ve been gifts for either him or family members. It’s more fun completing arts and crafts projects when you have someone there to admire them.
“14. Join the Peace Corps.”
I guess this is the one legitimate thing on her list, although it’s not something that appealed to me. If it’s something you think you might enjoy, go for it!
“15. Disappoint your parents.”
Why would this be a goal for anyone, regardless of marital satus? Unless your parents are expecting and hoping for you to fail, this is never a good plan. I don’t get it.
“16. Watch GIRLS, over and over again.“
I watch television shows with my husband all the time – it is more enjoyable when you have someone there to laugh with you.
“17. Eat a jar of Nutella in one sitting.”
I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone – I don’t think a doctor would either. Seriously, how many days’ worth of calories would that even be? This is silly.
“18. Make strangers feel uncomfortable in public places.”
This is easier to do if you have a partner.
“19. Sign up for CrossFit.”
Also something you can do while married. I have a built-in workout and accountability partner. I have never stuck with a healthy lifestyle as long as I have now that I am married, not because he wants me to lose weight, but because he’s an encourager.
“20. Hangout naked in front of a window.”
For God’s sake, seriously? Again, WHY WOULD ANYONE OF ANY AGE, WITH ANY MARITAL STATUS, THINK THIS IS A GOOD IDEA?
“21. Write your feelings down in a blog.”
Doing that. *checks hand* Oh! Married.
“22. Be selfish.”
This is on the same list as join the Peace Corps? Being selfish is not a good thing, ever. It makes people spiteful and petty and jealous, and if you embrace it as it seems Vanessa is suggesting you should, you will end up alone. But if you do want to be selfish, follow this advice and get it out of your system before you get married – a marriage is no place for selfishness.
“23. Come with me to the Philippines for Chinese New Year.”
This seems like a cop-out list item that is basically #1, and my response to it is the same.
Marriage, contrary to popular belief, is not where fun and happiness go to die. If you are in a healthy, fruitful, biblical marriage, you will actually experience joy and love beyond your wildest dreams. You will give, and receive, and earn, and share so much more than you ever thought was possible. There will be pain and heartache and difficult times along the way, because life is not fair, and because life is difficult. But if you have picked the right partner, they will be with you the weather the storms alongside you.
To steal from George Clooney’s character in “Up in the Air,” “Life is better with company. Everybody needs a copilot.”
I have a feeling this will be continued at a later date. Until then, peace.