"Settling Down." You hear the phrase all the time. Images of Bryan, the soulless office drone, hunched over a computer while fluorescent lighting flickers overhead. He’s working the ol’ 9 to 5 grind to provide for his nagging wife and their four-year-old nightmare. Once, he dreamed of being the first to summit Mount Kilimanjaro naked. Now, his life's greatest desire is to take a baseball bat to that f**ing printer that always f**ing prints error pages whenever he has to give presentations. He’s “settled down.”
A young, but haggard wife is cooking dinner for her husband who gets home in an hour. She’s dispassionately stirring a bubbling pot of stew as she daydreams about camel rides in Kabul and tango lessons with that Argentinian dance instructor. If only she had waited to get married—just a few more years. She sighs, and realizes the bottom of the stew is burning. She’s “settled down.”
When young people think of themselves married nowadays, these sorts of silly images flood in and take over. We think from the moment that ring is thrust on our ring finger that our fun is done. Any dreams, aspirations, or plans we had for ourselves have to be put on the proverbial shelf so we can despair upon the mounds of dust they collect over our meaningless lifetimes.
That’s why we have videos like this one:
The notion Buzzfeed puts forward is mirrored in many millennials and young people today. The idea is that, before we tie ourselves to our boring, miserable existence of marriage and child rearing, we need to get out there and SEE THE WORLD. We need to Little Mermaid it up and run away from home, amass a neat collection of whosits and whatsits, and fall in love with the guy your dad hates the absolute most.
“Go travel,” says Buzzfeed, “set personal goals for yourself. Look at ALL the neat stuff and see just how amazingly neat it really is.
According to Buzzfeed, we must experience the world before we’re forced into a claustrophobic hell of domesticity!
I’m all for experiencing the world. It’s absolutely necessary to break from the grind and do something memorable and personally rewarding for yourself. God gave us this world to experience it, and we rightly should. But here’s the thing: God didn’t create marriage to be a giant, impenetrable wall that keeps us from fulfilling our dreams. In fact, that’s precisely what marriage is not.
There’s absolutely no reason why someone can’t travel, or do any of the “before settling down” things while “settled down.” I mean, I don’t know if you watched the same video as me (I do know, because I linked you to it), but most of those goals are pretty damn achievable. For instance, Buzzfeed lists “find a new show and watch it all in one weekend” as to a do list item.
My wife and I have watched plenty of TV shows, let me tell you, and we’ve read so many novels we could pretty much start our own Half Priced Books. Now, those were some of the more asinine things Buzzfeed listed, but even the more seemingly unattainable life missions (traveling, dream jobs) are within reach, even if you have a ring on your finger.
The fact is, traveling and road trips are better when you’re married. Having a spouse is better than having a “best friend,” and not just because of that whole procreating thing. When you get married, you have someone who knows that you’re so impatient that you stand by the microwave and count down the seconds. She knows and still loves you. When you’re married, you have a committed, lifelong friend who you’ll share your life and your most intimate moments with. I don’t think it’s difficult to imagine how much more amazing a road trip would be with that kind of person at your side.
Now, I know what you’re saying. “Kids!” you scream, inexplicably surrounded by an army of four-year-olds touting bottles and plastic tractors.
Yes. Kids are a major sacrifice, and they come with the “marriage” territory. They ruthlessly take away your time and your money; they suck the life from you till you are a pale shell of who you once were. But that doesn’t mean they’ll keep you from achieving your dreams of traveling the world or what have you. The only thing stopping you from traveling with your kids is...what? Not having enough formula to get you through the week? The fear that your kid will throw a temper tantrum on the plane? Kids are another obstacle you have to juggle, but let's face it, there is always too much to juggle. Fact. Most unmarried people don’t even have the liberty to up and go on a soul-searching, globe-trotting adventure whenever they want. That takes money and vacation days, two things most young people just entering into the adult world lack. There are always sacrifices. Life demands them, and, while kids are a big one, they’re not the end of the story.
The idea that “settling down” denies you excitement and adventure in your life is a myth. Most married people can tell you: getting married feels a lot like having a birthday. You don’t wake up a totally different person, magically altered in some drastic way. No, you don’t have a pre-marriage and a post-marriage life. You just have life—the present—and you can do with it whatever you want to do with it. You’re the master of your own destiny, and if you make traveling and adventure a priority, you’ll do it regardless of what obstacles life throws your way.
Marriage is a tremendous blessing that will enhance your life, not inhibit it. There are plenty of reasons why you should, if you have a special someone that you love, suck it up and follow Beyoncé’s sage wisdom. Put a ring on it. Marry young.
You Grow Up Together
I got married a measly one year out of college, and I am still very much in that millennial muck of ”what in the name of Zeus the All-Powerful am I going to do with my life?”
Spoiler Alert: getting married doesn’t instantly make you feel like an adult with your life all figured out. But, what it does do is give you a companion who knows the trials you’re facing, and can help you through them. You get to face the difficulties of life side-by-side, supporting one another and making up for one another’s weaknesses. Not only this, but all your memories and adult experiences will belong to you and your spouse. You’ll be constructing an elaborate story in which every act, from rags to riches, is starring the two of you, which is just plain awesome.
Melding Your Lives Together is WAY Easier
Marriage asks a lot out of you. It asks you to come out of yourself and care deeply and selflessly for another person. Let me tell you, it is much easier to share everything when you’re poor as hell. It’s far easier to be selfless when all you’ve got between you is a one-bedroom apartment and a few saltine crackers, which is pretty much all that most people straight out of college can afford. It’s much more difficult when two thirty-somethings, as autonomous individuals, who have created careers, living spaces, agendas, schedules, and habits for years and years without any recourse to anyone outside of themselves, do the deed. They’re going to have a much harder time adjusting. The young couple, on the other hand, grows up together, learning the hard lessons early. The older couple must learn to make their separate existences connect. That’s far more likely to cause friction and cause resentment.
(The Best Reason) Why Wait?
Carpe Diem, or YOLO for the younger tots. If you’re in love, and you’ve weathered time and a few hard moments with each other and came out alright, there’s literally no reason to wait. Not to be a pessimist, but life is a muddled mess of confusion, and a light isn’t going to come out of the sky bearing an angelic messenger saying, “Now’s the time, John. Propose to Jenny.
You’re never going to “feel” ready for most anything life throws at you, and marriage is no different. Ultimately, you have to ask yourself if you love the other person, and, if you do, pop the question. Or, if you are a woman-person, casually hint or directly tell your significant other that you won't embarrassingly reject the man you love if he kneels vulnerably before you.
Now, marriage is still a monumental decision not to be taken lightly, but too many people these days treat it like a spreadsheet. Love is a decision, and the perfect spouse is the one with whom you’ve made the decision to love, not the one who matches all your criteria and who you never argue, fight, or disagree with.
Hopefully I’ve given you a few things to think about. At the very least, I hope you expel the silly idea that you can’t follow your dreams if you’re married. Rather, you’ll have someone who loves you deeply at your side for the rest of your life—as comforter and companion—to see your dreams through to the end.