Thursday, July 25, 2002

COSTS OF DELAYING MARRIAGE: This essay by Danielle Crittenden has been in my head a long time. While I agree with her arguments in the abstract -- she claims that women give up too much by delaying marriage to pursue independence, because for many or most of them, the opportunities they have to marry in their early twenties do not replicate themselves in their early thirties or beyond -- I think she misses at least half of the issue. It is a paltry sum of men who are marriageable in their early twenties. And there certainly is some value (whether or not it outweighs the costs is clearly one of the questions with which Crittenden takes issue) allocated to the maturity that people gain by facing adult life with the limited resources of singleness. I actually believe that there is a lot of growing up to be done, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually in a person's early twenties. Some of this growing can be done well in the partnership of marriage. On the other hand, I know an awful lot of persons who marry young, and then feel like they've given up the years that most people spend "discovering themselves" in favor of the laborious prospect of making a marriage work. While I praise those who know love early, marry young, and become wizened spouses on the job, it's nearly always those who were born with an extra dose of maturity who do it successfully. I think history has played a cruel joke with respect to singleness -- it's the sexual irresponsibility, relational distrust and stunted maturity that was born in our parents' generation and has been bred in our own.

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