“When is he going to propose?”
That was the question I hated most between years two and three of our courtship. But it didn’t stop there:
“Has he told you why he hasn’t proposed yet?”
“Do you worry that he’ll never marry you?”
“Have you got a date in mind when you’ll stop waiting?”
“If he hasn’t proposed by the time you’ve been dating for two years, he probably isn’t going to.”
Constantly. As if there wasn’t something wrong with us because we weren’t married yet. Something wrong with me because he hadn’t proposed.
Christians! Why do you do this to young people? Why has it become the norm to get engaged within a year of meeting each other? Why all this pressure?
I know that there’s this belief that getting married within months will keep young people from having sex. It comes from 1 Corinthians 7:9. But that verse is not saying that everyone needs to get married as soon as possible to avoid having premarital sex. It’s saying that if you can’t control yourself, you should get married. Looking at the verse in context isn’t very hard, you only need to go back eleven words, to half way through verse 8: “it is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am.”
The idea that getting married early into a relationship is good because it will keep the young couple from premarital sex is a myth. The answer to staying away from premarital sex is very simple. “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to Your word” (Psalm 119:9). A person who is not living God’s way is not going to avoid sin.
(And if they do have sex? I’m going to be honest, it’s not the worst thing a person can do).
I haven’t seen all this pressure to get married so young and so soon work very well for that many people. I’ve seen it cause an 18 year old to rush into marriage, only to end up penniless and heartbroken. I’ve seen it cause a 20 year old to search constantly through books and websites for an answer to what is wrong with her that her boyfriend of two and a half years hasn’t proposed. I’ve seen it cause a 22 year old to think that something is wrong with her because she’s not married, and conclude that God must have planned for her to be alone.
Is that really the best life that God wants for young women?
I’m going to say something a little bit risky: I have noticed that men tend to have this ability to cast a vision over a much wider future then women tend to. In other words, if there is a young couple who have been courting (specifically, courting) for two or three or four years, then the young man in the relationship is probably looking five, ten, thiry, seventy years into the future and working out whether or not right now would be a good time to marry. If she is in university, he is considering whether they could afford for her to study in their first year of marriage. If he is looking at changing his job, he is considering whether he can do that and support his wife. If they live in different areas, he is considering where they will live, and whether a commute is possible. A young woman thinks of romance and “I got you, babe.” A young man thinks of providing.
My reference to my husband in this blog is “my tender warrior,” which comes from a book called (suprisingly) Tender Warrior, by Stu Weber. In this book, Weber breaks down the word “provision” to explain that it is about a vision for what is ahead, the original Middle English word meaning “foreseeing”.
A comment that we both got often was “rings don’t cost that much.” For one thing, my ring is beautiful and did cost quite a bit. But he had it for a while before proposing. Because he knew that he wanted to marry me, he just wanted to give me every I needed within marriage. In other words, he was leading me as a husband should before he even put a ring on my finger.
I have seen rushed into marriages not work, and to be honest, they’re the marriages that happened because the young lady pushed for it. My happiest married friends are the ones who, like me, let their husbands make the decision themselves.