Monday, October 13, 2008

Rethinking Marriage: Girls, you're not as dumb as they say

What would you say is the reason that 50 years ago in the US it was acceptable for a girl of 18 to be preparing herself to become a wife in the near future, but now its considered almost scandalous? Girls used to have sweet 16 parties and debutante balls to officially announce that they have moved beyond childhood to an age ready to date and find a suitable husband. We view these sorts of events as sweetly funny, old fashioned and even carry the taste of oppression. After all in the 1950’s women were treated as inferior in the work place and were ostracized if they didn’t conform to the traditional wife and mother role.

I guess you would say that times have changed, women have been liberated from the constraints of a male-dominated society and now we have the freedom to choose our own destiny, our own path in life. And it seems that the path that everyone is pointing to is to be alone, build a career, and prove that we don’t need a man to be happy. As a side note, today some girls have resurrected the old sweet-sixteen party as an expensive bash with DJ’s, drinks and the hope that they’ll lose their virginity if they haven’t already. Very sweet.

Why is it that when news of Sarah Palin’s daughter (who, is pregnant with her boyfriend’s baby) is planning to marry at 18, the media went wild with accusations of a “shotgun wedding”? They deride her choice of marrying her high-school sweetheart as ridiculous, that somehow her rights are being violated. The poor girl, who had already made plans to marry before she even got pregnant, is a huge joke for all the late-night comedians.

It has become conventional wisdom that a young girl in her teens is incapable of making a rational decision about marriage – although many states believe she has the right to purchase birth control without her parents’ knowledge or permission. No problem if she conceives a child, aborts it, has multiple sexual partners, but MARRIAGE? Unthinkable!

Isn’t insisting that young women are too ignorant to marry, just as oppressive as saying that women don’t have a right to work? If women in the past were able to marry in their teens and have happy marriages and raise their children, well, what has happened with the advance of technology and a liberated society? Have we turned our teenage girls into immature air-heads? Watch E! TV and you’ll get your answer.

I dare to believe that women, young and old, are able to be more intelligent, resilient and competent than today’s society credits them for. Though unhappy marriages have existed from time immemorial - some that were huge mistakes - it doesn't mean that marriage is too scary to understand. It's possible for women to enjoy all the romance and thrill of marrying young, if they have the support and guidance of wiser women (and of course, if they listen to that advice!) While some women are still alone and trying to “find themselves” at 35, others are well grounded in a loving marriage and a blessing to everyone around them.

I know women from both of these camps, and I tell you, it’s a thrill to be around those that married young and have a maturity beyond their years, and yet are still fresh-faced and vibrant and ready to take on whatever life may throw at them. Really – a lot of my friends fall into this category. And conversely, it’s a very sad experience to be around those who may be well educated and established in their careers, but are lonely and unable to find a lasting relationship. They’ve never learned the joys of commitment and sacrifice and all the rewards that brings.

Let’s start another cultural revolution that celebrates the joy of the purity of marriage, for both young women and men. Maybe if older adults pulled their marriages together, we could be a better example for them. Want to know a good way to start? Check out the movie Fireproof, and buy the book, the Love Dare at your local Christian bookstore. Its just a start, but a pretty good one!


Motlatsi said...

The biggest irony of it all is that the very women who are well educated and career orientated, committed to their career of choice fresh out of High School. They made a decision, stuck to it, worked hard to bring it to fruition, and today, are reaping the fruit of their effort.

At seventeen or eighteen we tell our young girls that they are mature enough to decide which career they want to follow for the rest of their lives. We encourage them to work hard towards making it work. Yet in the same breath we tell them they are too young to decide which man they want to spend the rest of their lives with. It makes no sense.

I have heard people say marriage is not easy and is not to be taken likely, but neither is getting a college degree, yet we expect it of our young girls and boys. I figure if a young girl can handle that much responsibility and commitment, at such a tender age, she is certainly fit and old enough to handle marriage.

Certainly, young girls aren't as dumb as they all say! They are busy turning into lawyers, doctors, teachers, accountants, businesswomen. Why stop there? They might as well turn into great wives as well!

Janet said...

I think the way the media has treated Miss Palin is really sad. I thought it was great the way John McCain gave her a big hug when she got off of the plane. Total acceptance, forgiveness and support. But her pregnancy is an example of how girls have trouble making decisions.

A teenage brain isn't completely developed yet. Maybe that's why in the past, in America, you had to be 21 years old to vote. (I think they changed the age because 18-yr-old's were being drafted into the armed services. I don't know.) Most teenagers I know think they want a tattoo and most college freshmen can't decide on a major.

In California, Quinceaneras are very popular among Hispanic girls, but they really don't have anything to do with wanting to get married. It's just an opportunity to have a big party. In the past girls were expected to marry right after school. Hopefully college. But now they have so many opportunities available to them, people are afraid they will never be able to experience their full potential if they start having babies.

In the past thirty-five years we have seen that in some cases, doing it all, having a family and a career, was not all it was cracked up to be and many families divorced. Girls do need to be counseled on life choices and expectations by successful mentors who can help them clarify their personal values.

Lyssette said...

You know this is so true in everyway possible. Before I got married my entire family would say "Think about it, you have your whole life ahead of you, don't throw it away", you are a smart girl, you are on your way to a great career but don't let a guy ruin that for you. Most women encourage young girls to get an education have a plan A, if it doesn't go well then have a plan B to fall back on but they don't encourage young women to date nor marry because according to them it would be an obstacle. Well if you look at their lives or background, they either married at a young age or didn't get an education because their purpose was to serve their husbands. If they were mature enough to marry then, then it's no different now.

Maura Carolina Olivera said...

It's difficult for me to give an oppinion here. The problem is that I used to think exactly like this. I am able to decide about everything, but marriage? That was going to be a foreign word for a long time, indeed. I am not sure what I used to thought anymore. If I was going to write down here every fool thought that crossed my mind, the tale would be endless. I was so confused (sometimes I still feel so), because the conflict among my point of view, society's, my family's and my friend's was always wide. But I want God´s point of view now. Marriage would not work for me at this age, I am sure, but why would I have to criticize if some young woman wants to get married? I am noy a Judge! I am not God! And if I want to eat vegetables, why should I say "what a fool" to a person that eats meat? I am beginning to make part of my bones that truth.