It is heard all of the time, the lamentations of girls everywhere who want to get married. Blame it on the Disney scenes rehearsed from childhood or some deeper inner need that requires attention. Blame it on whatever you like, but it's safe to say that almost every woman, at one point or another, has thought to herself, "Will I ever get married?"
To even use the word 'blame' when referring to the issue implies there is something wrong with a woman's desire to marry. Indeed, there is not. When compared to the counterpart who, at times, likes to revel in unrestraint, sure, it might seem that a woman's need to 'get-hitched' is too intense. Arguably, it might not be. Women want to get married because women are primarily relational beings. As soon as a little girl can hold a doll, she discovers how to play make-believe family. This concept is more than just a social construct; it speaks to an element of a female's natural purpose: to tend to and care for another.
However, there can be a trap hidden in that intense desire of wanting to move from being single to being married. Here are three questions to ask yourself when it comes to marriage:
1) Do you want to get married because you are lonely? There is nothing amiss about wanting companionship, but to look at a partner as the answer to loneliness will only result in great disappointment. Research shows that the happiest couples are those who feel they both have something valuable to contribute to the relationship. If your main motivation is filling a need for companionship, then all that you are bringing to the table are needs.
2) Do you want to get married because you think it will make you happy? Granted, marriage can bring happiness, but to seek fulfillment in the institution of marriage will quickly prove lacking. The view of marriage as a means to get something is faulty from the start. Marriage is primarily about giving, even when you may not feel like it. Any 'getting'—be it happiness, security or companionship—is secondary to what you are able to give to your partner.
3) Do you view marriage as a goal? There should be caution against seeing marriage as some future goal which you must reach in order to have purpose or happiness in life. You are a woman who is free to experience the world around you like women decades before you could not. That is a great privilege to be fully embraced, not one to be quickly surrendered to a new tax status.
Rushing to get married, often with ill-informed and misconstrued expectations, is one of the reasons divorce rates are so remarkably high. In divorce courts across America, countless times the reason for the split is, "He changed" or "She is just a different person." These "irreconcilable differences" can't be entirely avoided, but there is plenty you can guard against by simply enjoying what the single life has to offer. As you age, what you want from life evolves, what you want from relationships grows clearer, who you want to be and what you want to do with life can take drastic new shape and form. Granted, plenty of people marry at a young age and are not doomed to divorce. But just because it can work, doesn't mean it will be an easy road.
For those who are single, consider the wisdom of Henry David Thoreau: "Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each." Your desire to marry is good and right. In time, chances are that desire will be fulfilled. But for now, being single is your season and this is your chance to enjoy it while it lasts. Embrace it. Revel in it. Discover who you are and who you could be. In the process, perhaps love will find you.
Then, when love and marriage do come your way, your future can be built on a partnership of mutual ambitions, maturity and sharing from the wealth of each other's full life. This is the best kind of shared purpose and togetherness, one that comes from abundance rather than need, and from a readiness to give rather than to get.
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