A few days ago, I read a blog post about marriage "How I Know My Wife Married the "Wong" Person." He brings up several good points, and started a great discussion. Let me be another voice in this discussion Yes, I think that there is a powerful myth that one should find their soul mate and I agree that this myth needs to be debunked. Yes, I think this myth can be a contributing factor to why people are waiting longer to get married. It is not, however, the only story. Tyler says "singles (and married people) are searching for a super-spouses that simply don't exist." He also mentions that this expectation is contributing to later and fewer marriages. I have not looked into that research myself, so I am just assuming that is true. As with all research - that is not true in every case.
I am 32 and single. I want to be married. I am sure there are many contributing factors to my current relationship status. The search for a super-spouse is one of them, but, by no means, the primary one. At many points I bought into the idea that I am looking for a soul mate rather than a flawed, lovable, respectable, person. Absolutely I have done that, and it is likely that I missed some quality men because I was in that state of mind. But that is just one factor -one that I have become aware of and I am working on correcting. Let me tell you a little more about this journey for me, and to unpack a few more of the reasons I am not married- at least a few of the reasons I can see.
Desire to be with someone who can do the work of marriage. The more I learn about the reality of marriage, the more I realize that marriage is full of hard work. I have yet to meet someone with whom I can see myself doing this level of work. I know that some of that is my fault- I waited until my late 20s to go to counseling and learn what it is to see and sort out my own dysfunction. Doing the work of marriage requires a level of self-knowledge and sacrifice that I can only think about doing with someone else who knows how to identify, own, and begin the process of sorting through their own junk. I want to be with someone who is capable of the work of marriage. I don't want a perfect person, just man who is willing to admit his dysfunction and who is willing to be with me as I work on mine. In my experience this commitment to emotional and mental health is deeply lacking in the church. I am not saying such men don't exist- they certainly do. I am saying that in my experience they are rare, and I am willing to hold out for one.
Simple math- fewer opportunities. I have not been asked on a date by a Christian man. I don't say this to garner pity or to throw Christian men under the bus. I know many godly, bold men who pursue women well. This has not yet happened in my life. I also know plenty of other woman who could echo that refrain. One of the effects of elevating marriage is that dating becomes an institution with too much pressure. I can only imagine that the already intimidating task of asking someone out becomes so much harder when marriage is looming somewhere around the 5th date.
In his book, After the Baby Boomers:How Twenty and Thirty Somethings Are Shaping the Future of American Religion, Robert Wuthnow states "Church attenders age 21 through 45 are disproportionately female." He goes on to unpack those numbers, noting that the majority of church attenders in this age group are married. He gives many more details, but the fact is that there are less men around to meet. Less men to meet, less opportunities. Simple math.
I am sure there are other reasons people are getting married less frequently and later in life. I know there are more reasons for me, but these are the two that popped to mind. More significantly, these are two that have less to do with wanting a super spouse. One of my favorite things about blogging is that it is essentially a giant conversation, so I wanted to add my voice to this conversation and share a different point of view.