5 Things People Think About Marriage and Growing Up That Are Wrong

The following are actual statements I’ve read or heard in just the last few weeks about marriage and life, and I assume many people believe them. And because the way a culture thinks about marriage greatly influences said culture, we need to be thinking rightly about it and helping others do the same. Especially our children.
  • Criteria for a “good husband”: Is he good looking and does he make a lot of money?

This statement came from a woman who lived during the Great Depression. I get it. I really do. At least the last part. (The first part–really?) And honestly, don’t we all struggle with the money thing somewhere deep down? Money translates security. And who doesn’t want that?

The usual argument might go, “Well, you know how hard it can be on a marriage with financial struggles.” And that’s true. It can be hard. It can also be hard on a marriage when work-demands from a high-paying job deplete a relationship. It can also be hard on a marriage when greed and selfishness take over, or when status becomes more important than sitting on the front porch together, or when a couple gets trapped in the automobile-upgrade-because-our-neighbors-did game.

I’ve never heard one person warn a youngster about the dangers of making too much money. If we aren’t going to be honest, we should be quiet. The divorce rate doesn’t favor the poor or the rich. Seems financial security or the lack thereof doesn’t offer much indication of the success of the marriage. Maybe there are other things, far more important than the paycheck, that do.

  • You can’t get to know someone in less than a year.

Actually, that’s both true and false. The truth is, you can’t really get to know someone until you live with them. Period. But can you get to know someone’s character, get a feel for your compatibility in less than a year? Absolutely. There is no special time frame for relationship milestones.

  • College and becoming who you want to be and discovering yourself and your career should be much more important than getting married and tying yourself down to a commitment when the discovery of yourself has not yet been found. College is a time for individuals to discover themselves and find their paths in life. Marriage would greatly inhibit this. You cannot grow with another person until you fully know yourself. I am doubtful that anyone ranging from the ages 18-23 has fully found themselves yet. (Comment left here on the blog.)

Wow. Many people actually do believe this. “Finding one’s self” is highly overrated not a thing. The problem with most of us, in fact, is the quest to find one’s self propels one on an unending, self-absorbed search that kills what is most crucial in the human spirit–serving outside of self. We learn who we are only in the context of other people. That’s how we were made. Without commitment and responsibility to others we self-destruct. Marriage and family are the path to true discovery–wherever you are in a family.  It’s how we grow up and find ourselves.

  • My worst fear is how I’m going to pay for their college.

I find it almost unbelievable that we have elevated college to the place that it causes us this kind of fear. How about we put our energy into raising children who will grow up with upright character so they can face what life will inevitably throw at them. Let’s hope they become responsible, faithful, wise and honest, whether they go to college or not. Let’s pray they become followers of Christ. That they find godly spouses and seek first the Kingdom of God. Those are the things we should be afraid of their missing out on. Not a ginormous debt  they might not even need. Furthermore, parents shouldn’t “fear” paying for college when that isn’t even an entitlement. College is not a requirement for the good life. Character is.

  • You need to have all your ducks in a row before you start a family.

Whatever ducks you may have in a row are likely to change in a few years so don’t count your ducks before they waddle off. We make too much of “having it all together”, in my opinion, these days. Whatever happened to couples figuring out life together, easing the burdens by helping each other, and growing in love and security and wisdom having been through the beautiful catalyst of trials together? Do we need a plan? Yes, though it will likely change a few times. More important than the plan then, are the marks of ambition, work ethic and wisdom that will fortify a family through anything. We do our children great harm, I think, when we deprive them of building families on the pretense that “security” is more important. “Seek first the Kingdom…” and everything else will be added is what He says.

25 Responses to “5 Things People Think About Marriage and Growing Up That Are Wrong”

  1. Kelly L says:

    Cannot disagree with any of your post. I get when non-Christians make statements like these, their world view should be vastly different from ours. What I don’t get is Christians making these statements. God has created us for something amazing, giving this kind of advice instead of telling someone you’ll help them pray to hear His voice clearly, or pray for yourself to help them to follow His plan is subversive.
    I’ve had many young girls and women come to me for advice. I am praying the whole time we talk. There are times I say something, God checks me, and I confess to them that that was my own dumb advice and not in alignment with God’s instruction. If we are not there to be a conduit to God in the midst of confusion for them, we should say nothing. We should stop wasting their time.

  2. Cindy says:

    “What duck?” might be funny last words, but make it plural and it reflects reality.What ducks? We don’t have no stinking ducks! We collect those as we go along, and if we put them in a row while we’re single, we might get set in our ways and then find it difficult to agree on their proper arrangement as a couple. Late marriage might have its advantages (as does early marriage), but the ducks are not one of them.

    • MelissaJoy says:

      Not only that, but ducks that need to fall into that row don’t even exist until marriage and/or parenthood! We won’t even know about them until the real life comes along (because thinking about what married life one day will be really is just a fantasy, until it *becomes* the reality)

  3. Not one of these matter to God. In fact, He WARNS against wealth. His only qualifications were to marry a believer and it is better to marry than to burn, then be fruitful and multiply. It is amazing how FAR away from God’s ways we have fallen, even among the Christian community.

  4. Amanda says:

    You know, the four things you’ve just listed here are basically the ONLY things I ever heard about marriage. From both of my parents. They also tended to head off any discussion of pairing with the opposite sex/dating/marriage with, “You have your whole life to be married, don’t be in a hurry to get married.” And, sadly, these thoughts sunk very deeply into all nine of us kids. After twelve years’ very happy, life-changing in a good way, marriage, I take every chance I get to tear down this thinking, as loudly as I can without being directly disrespectful! Marriage is a wonderful, wonderful gift. And LONG before those with alternative lifestyles became “the” issue with marriage, we as Christians damaged and sullied this precious gift with our foolish, pagan thinking and our mundane, humanistic focus.

    I do believe that it is important to be well on the way to maturing as a believer, and have a thriving relationship with Christ, before pursuing marriage. But there is nothing magical about the age 18-23, and the notion that a person cannot possibly be a wise, and mature, adult before turning 24 and having wasted half a decade on vain pursuits and selfishness is just another cultural lie which Scripture reveals.

    • Amanda,

      “And LONG before those with alternative lifestyles became “the” issue with marriage, we as Christians damaged and sullied this precious gift…”

      You are very right.

  5. Indiana mom,

    So with what part do you disagree, out of curiosity? The planning? I hope you don’t think I was saying there’s something wrong with planning. It’s when planning takes precedence over family. I want my children to have a plan. I want my daughters to marry a guy who has a plan. But that plan needs to be held loosely (realizing it probably will change) and most importantly, the plan can be executed with a spouse. I think we set the “plan” standard too high and thereby discourage getting married.

  6. Smitti says:

    I would guess some of the worst advice is given out of fear, and out of a hope that mistakes can be avoided. I have been told all sorts of terrible things about the way my marriage would go- from the very beginning… by my (well-meaning but worldy) mother. I’m glad I followed God and not her. 22 years later, she’s asking me for advice! ; ) I think you are ‘spot on’ in recommending they follow God’s will for marriage and the family, and Especially in not recommending following the world’s ways. God has a way of working out mistakes (which are made one way or another), and He is ALWAYS available for help when we need it… unlike the world.

  7. Mrs L says:

    I love this post! I have been ruminating on this topic for the last few days.

    My husband and I were twenty when we married. Neither of us had any wealth, he was at the start of a degree (which took 7 years to finish as the babies began to arrive and he had to find more work). We’ve been through all manner of challenges of varying kinds- health, financial, grief. And no we didn’t know much about ourselves when we first got together- but we’ve found out with our sleeves rolled up, best friend by our side. What could be better?

    We are 28 this year and expecting baby number 4 and are more in love than ever, with no regrets about early marriage. (And he finished the degree, and we bought a house, and we feed and clothe and teach or babes on a budget and are ever so happy.)

    As for the comment left on your blog- It was years before I found myself properly. When I did I was not pleased with what I found. I found a hopeless wretch desperately in need of a saviour. I doubt very much whether marriage would have helped or hindered that discovery in any way. (But if anything, it would have helped- no place to hide in marriage!)

  8. Guest says:

    I can’t agree. Marriage is a serious, life-long commitment. It should be entered into very carefully. Mistakes can be make in youth that can never be undone. I don’t want that for my daughter.

    • Laura(yet another) says:

      Um, nowhere did Kelly say to get married indiscriminately, or with no thought or care… Kelly also believes that marriage IS serious, in fact, MORE serious than the general culture believes it to be, and I think Kelly’s point is that we should be working to GROW and PREPARE for marriage more actively than we are as a society in general, especially within the church. For example, I look around and often see teen girls who are actively involved in school things, sports, drama, dance, or even youth group. But most of these same girls have no clue how to cook, how to clean, how to deal with children, and are often blind to their own besetting sins/faults. They are so focused on their “passions” and interests (ie hobbies) that often have little REAL value, and then later in life are stressed over all the things they should have been taught and prepared for much much earlier. For example, it may be a girl’s passion to study dance. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with dance and it can even be used to glorify God in the right context and motive. But in real life and faced with real life needs (especially in say, a time of financial crisis) what good is dance? Does it feed you? Does it clothe you? Does it pay the bills? Certainly for a few teachers it does these things, but for most it is an enjoyable hobby and a fun source of exercise. So for the girl who starts dance at age 6 and does it all the way through her school years (to the neglect of chores, family responsibility, and other practical skills like budgeting, cooking, household organization etc), she comes into adulthood and gets married and has a family, completely unprepared to face many of these realities… I always wanted to be an artist. I love to draw and paint( I’m also a potter). I regret the HOURS I spent in pursuit of these things rather than more practical information. I also regret the $11K of debt I accumulated going to college to study it(and had to pay back starting at the beginning of marriage). I wish I had had my priorities on straight and made decisions accordingly.

  9. Mandy says:

    I agree too. Most of our friends tried to convince us to wait – till I’d finished my degree, till we had more money, till we were just “older” but I’m so grateful that we married at 20 and 22 respectively and have “grown up” together over the last 15 years. We have faced illness, infertility, multiple miscarriages, depression, near bankruptcy together. Each time God has faithfully brought us through and strengthened our faith and marriage. I am now 40+ weeks pregnant and eagerly awaiting the blessing of our third child and celebrated 15 years of marriage to my best friend last week! God is good.

  10. Karen Jones says:

    I agree ! The funny part about being the “real me” was that before I married at 34 I really believed I was a lot of really good things!! LOL after I was married and had kids I found out I was selfish and ornery and set in my ways…!!

  11. Jennie says:

    BAM. Spot. On. Target. Thank you, Kelly. So thankful every day that my parents encouraged my siblings and me to pray for our future spouses and children from the time we were young and to look forward to working TOGETHER with our spouses in marriage. “Two are better than one, for they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (That’s the reference inscribed inside our wedding bands.)

  12. Beth says:

    In my personal experience, there is no better or faster way to “get your ducks in a row” than to have the happy, unexpected surprise of discovering you’re expecting! 🙂

  13. Heather Newcomb says:

    This is one great post. I was riding in my car a day or two ago and I told my husband, “When I married you, I had no idea what a good decision I was making. I knew I loved you, and I knew you always strived for godliness, but I had NO IDEA what a good thing it was. Fifteen years later, I think I finally know.” I can only praise God for the blessing of marriage.

  14. Ginger says:

    This spurred a great discussion with my teens about expectations regarding premarital relationships (the new word our church body has chosen for courtship 😉 ).
    I just hate battling the college expectation. Everyone just assumes our kids will go to college regardless of what marketable skills they are interested in pursuing. I was telling someone just yesterday that my oldest really wants to become a missionary & I told her all the things we were doing to prepare her for that lifestyle (reading missionary wives’ biographies and doing evangelism training). She asked if she was going to go to college. I thought that was an odd question considering what I’d just said, but people just don’t think: Would my child need a degree for what they want to do?, college is just status quo regardless. And thus the obscene amounts of student loans young people start their lives with. Ugh.

  15. Mrs. B says:

    I am so glad that I didn’t follow any of the above advice. If I had almost a quarter of a century ago, I would have never married my best friend and consequently might have been deprived of six of the greatest blessings God has put into my life.

    And yes, at that young age there were things that I was clueless about. But isn’t that what having a praying, godly family (both biological and church) is for?

  16. Kate says:

    Great article! My husband and I are far from perfect but we did do things differently then is commonly accepted in our society and we wouldn’t change a thing. When I was 23, I became a single foster mother. I was in my first year of teaching and saw so many children who needed loving homes. Many people voiced the concern that “no one would want to marry me.” A couple of months after I began fostering, I was set up on a blind date with my (now) husband. We were engaged in 3 weeks. While we were engaged (and living an hour apart), I got another foster daughter- a newborn baby girl. We had planned a wedding for 6 months away but, because there was a good chance she would be adoptable, we married 4 months after we met. That newborn baby girl is our now 8-year old (officially adopted) daughter. We did foster care for 3 years and fostered about 20 children. We were blessed to adopt another baby girl, then have 3 boys in a 4 year time period. After a 3 year gap, we just had a sweet little tag-along. Our children are now 8, 7, 6, 4, 3, and 9 weeks old. I’m a stay at home, homeschooling mom and, though it’s nowhere near easy, I wouldn’t change a thing. When I met my husband, he was in grad school. Because of the economy, he spent the first 7 years of our marriage working in a pretty poor-paying state job. God has blessed us and he now has a better job, but we are far from wealthy. I write all this because we truly have a wonderful marriage. I hear older people telling young couples to put off having children for a few years so they can enjoy each other. What foolishness! I think one of the reasons our marriage is so precious is because we have ALWAYS had children- from the very beginning, we lived for others, not for our own selfish pursuits. I hear older people give a time frame that young couples should know each other before they marry. I’m not saying every couple should get engaged after 3 weeks and wed after 4 months, but it worked (well!) for us :). As far as looking for a wealthy husband- to be honest, when we married, I think I assumed that my husband would get his MBA and we would be at least middle class. That has been far from the case. But we have always had shelter, clothing, food to eat, and even extra. And we have learned so much through struggles that we wouldn’t have been able to learn any other way. I share our story every time I get a chance because young people need to know that the “norm” for society is neither the only way nor the right way.

  17. Charlotte says:

    My parents wholeheartedly believed everything you’ve mentioned. My mom married at age 38 after spending years focusing on herself and her career, and told me to do the same. She wanted me to travel, have fun, and have a career before settling down in my 30s. The problem is, I saw how miserable and empty people like her were and wanted nothing to do with it. I did go to college, but I married at 21 and began having kids right away. It was the best decision I ever made. I know that with my heart having longed for a family since a young age, putting off having one for 10 years or more would have made me miserable. Plus, I saw how difficult it was for people like my parents to adapt to having to accomodate a spouse and children’s needs after living decades by themselves. As the years go by, I realize more and more the wisdom behind growing together with your spouse rather than trying to grow alone and then try to mesh two very separate lives together.

  18. 6 arrows says:

    After 28 years of marriage and 24 years of parenting, I still don’t have all my ducks in a row. 😉 If I ever *think* I do, well then, I’d REALLY better look out!

    Great points in your post.

  19. 6 arrows says:

    I loved this article a friend just passed along to me. It’s a beautiful picture of growing together within the bond of marriage — how love and joy can flourish as the years go by, through the couple’s shared experiences, and how it is not necessary (and, really, is impossible) to first “have it all together.”


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