I read a lot. It can’t be helped. I am constantly browsing through different articles, stories and blogs. It keeps me pithy and makes for great ammunition when writing. Generally, I avoid commenting on the posts that I read. I am not going to change anyone’s mind on a comment thread. However, there comes a post every once in a while that demands more than a comment. It deserves a rebuttal. This was the case for me yesterday on post about marriage, which you can read here. If you don’t care to read the article, the author gives 23 things to do at 23 instead of getting married. The author, Vannesa Elizabeth, offers more. She explains how she believes most marriages at a young age are cop outs and she strongly suggests that marriages only stifle your growth as a young adult. I couldn’t resist, I had to respond in some way. Below is a link to the Huffington Post article previously mentioned, followed by my response.
23 Things to Do Instead of Getting Engaged When You’re 23 by Vannesa Elizabeth This article contains language I know most of my readership will find offensive. I do not endorse the ideas or tone found in this article, hence the rebuttal.
My rebuttal with a response to all 23 of her suggestions.
The problem with advice packaged in this type of setting is that there are gems to be found, but unfortunately there is a lot of rough you have to accept along with it. I didn’t want to be like one of the trolls posting in the comments thread, “She’s an idiot!” or “This is stupid.” or ever worse, something like “God HATES YOU!” So I wanted to take the time to write out a comment to each of the suggestions given and remark on some of the points you made in your article.
I agree that marriage at 23 is not for everyone. Marriage is a decision that too many couples take lightly. I’d agree many individuals don’t know who they are yet, and need more time to figure it out. A bad marriage can make this impossible. However, a healthy marriage can help define you. The biggest problem I saw in this article is the idea that relying on someone and being committed to a spouse is a sign of weakness. I can assure you that living with a different person with their own ideas and freewill is not a cakewalk, and I’m buck-wild about my wife. Too many people see the problems and friction that come with a marriage as a sign of an unhealthy relationship. It’s suppose to be just the opposite. I’ve learned that each time my wife and I work out a problem, disagreement or argument in a loving manner, we both grow and mature. Marriage can help you find out who you are and can help you grow into a better person. It’s not for everybody, and it most certainly comes at different times and ages, but don’t rule it out as a union that will only stifle you as an individual.
Here are your suggestions to do instead of getting married with my replies following.
1. Get a passport.
This is a good idea, but no point in waiting until after you are 23, I got mine when I was 18. There’s also no need to feel like you have to be single to do it. My wife and I traveled to Germany, Mexico and Dominican Republic together, it’s been awesome.
2. Find your “thing.”
I guess you mean your niche? While I will admit that I didn’t find my niche until after I was 23, the context of my marriage is what helped me figure out who I am. Call me weak, because I needed someone else to figure out who I am, I prefer blessed though.
3. Make out with a stranger.
I thought this was about going, doing and being. OK, make out with a stranger. I admit that being in a marriage prevents me from doing this, but not to get kinky, I prefer making out with someone I like and knows what I like. I’d wager I get more kisses in a day than anyone looking for a stranger to make out with, and my kisses are building and strengthening a relationship. (Ladies, you risk a lot by making out with some guy you have never met, it’s not worth the risk) (Guys, it’s not worth the baggage in the long run)
4. Adopt a pet.
We adopted fish and have a sweet reef aquarium. It’s been a fun project for our home. Married people can still adopt pets too. It’s building memories together.
5. Start a band.
I didn’t start it, but I play in one on most Saturday nights.
6. Make a cake. Make a second cake. Have your cake and eat it too.
We’ve baked all kinds of things together in our 6 years of marriage. Unlike making out with strangers, marriage shouldn’t prevent you from baking a cake.
7. Get a tattoo. It’s more permanent than a marriage.
I’ve got nothing against tattoos, but if you prefer them over a marriage due to its permanency then here is something to consider. Tattoos will fade, sag and stretch, but a selfless marriage will ripen as it ages. (Cheesy, but true)
8. Explore a new religion.
Check out new things, don’t just accept what you’ve been exposed to- I get it. I tell people to explore all they want, truth will reveal itself as long as we are open to receiving it. Got to remember though, at times truth is stranger than fiction.
9. Start a small business.
I haven’t done this, nor do I plan on doing it. I don’t have what it takes to be an entrepreneur, but that’s not because of marriage. My wife supports me fully in other endeavors. If I wanted to start a small business, she would have my back.
10. Cut your hair.
I can still do that too. My wife may have a preference, but that’s what makes it fun.
11. Date two people at once and see how long it takes to blow up in your face.
Oh… dang. No wonder you haven’t married anyone yet. If you truly believe you are responsible for your own happiness and you aim to accomplish that by taking advantage of others, then you are one selfish person. If you plan on being married eventually, why not spend this time building up your character and making yourself into someone others will want to be committed to?
12. Build something with your hands.
Another good idea, but it’s still something you can accomplish while in a marriage. In fact I did it numerous times before I even turned 20. What’s taking you so long?
13. Accomplish a Pinterest project.
My wife does this all the time. She enjoys making gifts for our niece and nephews (aka Family, which rocks. Invest in your family.)
14. Join the Peace Corps.
Good, I was beginning to wonder if you had any selfless ambitions.
15. Disappoint your parents.
Intentionally? This can’t be a good idea. I can understand not being afraid of disappointing your parents if they have expectations for you that don’t match your own goals and beliefs, but to disappoint them intentionally is one of the most selfish things I’ve read today. What good comes from it? How is this bettering yourself during your time out on your own?
16. Watch Girls, over and over again.
I have no idea what this is. My guess is a show that ties in with the theme of this post. If it’s about empowering women and encouraging girls to be their own person that sounds great, but if it has spawned some of the ideas that I am reading here, I’d say it’s best left alone.
17. Eat a jar of Nutella in one sitting.
While on the couch watching Girls “over and over again?” At what point are these suggestions suppose to make me wish I’d put my marriage off? I imagine a sad and depressed girl eating chocolate and watching T.V. day in and day out when I read this. Which one of us is coping out?
18. Make strangers feel uncomfortable in public places.
Yeah that’s fun… when I was 15.
19. Sign up for CrossFit.
Good. Get in shape. If you are single and what to enjoy being single, great. If you are single and hope to be married to someone someday, then start now to become someone you would want to be committed to. Working out is a great way to do that. Not only are you healthy and feel great, but it puts some discipline in your life.
20. Hangout naked in front of a window.
This is weird. Is this for you? For others? I don’t understand why you would want to do that to yourself. You mentioned earlier that many marriages are a cop out. Exhibitionism is a prime example of a young lady selling herself out for something less than what she is worth. A few moments for the thrill and high of being admired is not worth the dignity you would have to pay to obtain it.
21. Write your feelings down in a blog.
Stay in touch with yourself. Learn who you are. This is great.
22. Be selfish.
I’ve already made my point on selfishness and relationships. You have too, so #22 is a mute point here. To add something of value I’ll say that the more you put into a relationship, the more you and your spouse will get out.
23. Come with me to the Philippines for Chinese New Year.
I’ll pass. It’s not because I am married. Marriage is not preventing me from travelling. I went alone on a mission trip to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. My wife and I had been married for 3 years up to that point. I couldn’t have made that trip without her support. With her help I updated my passport, traveled, made a little difference in the world and built something with my hands while I was down there (knocked off several things on the list in one visit). Our marriage has given me more possibilities that I may not have had otherwise. I accept this isn’t the case for everyone, and some individuals need more time to find their significant other, but don’t assume those in a marriage have sold out and are being stifled.
What are some things you and your spouse have accomplished since you’ve been married? Has our marriage only stifled your growth? How do you keep your relationship healthy? Comment below and let your stories defend the sanctity of marriage.