Updated: Mar 25, 2019
A recent Huffington Post article brought to mind a troubling conversation I had with a teenager with divorced parents. Our otherwise mundane dialog transformed when the topic of marriage arose.
“I’m never going to get married.”
Surprised by the finality of the statement I asked, “Why?” After a thoughtful pause, “Well, maybe I’ll get married, but I’ll never have kids.” Again, probing gently, “Why not?” “Because if the marriage didn’t work out, I’d never want my kids to suffer what I went through.”
Does this conversation speak from your heart? Better not to marry than to fail at it! Or is the fear subtle like the example in Brittany Wong’s article about an adult child of divorce named Maegan?
Maegan’s story of parents divorcing and remarrying is pretty common. However, it seems her folks made great efforts to minimize the impact of the divorce. Except for one paragraph, Maegan could be the poster child for kids that survived parental divorce well. But in that rogue paragraph, this beautiful, intelligent, and vibrant individual describes her view on marriage.
“I’ve realized that some of my views on relationships were definitely influenced by my parents’ divorce. I don’t value marriage at all. I have no desire to marry and do not see it as something to aspire to. I don’t think I ever dreamed of my wedding day like they say little girls do. This is not to say I don’t think you can be in a committed relationship but I don’t find marriage any more special than a committed relationship. It could all be because of the divorce or it could just be me.” *
Unfortunately (in my view), Maegan speaks for millions of her peers. I know. I’ve spoken with many of them. But, truth be told, the “I’ll never get married and I’m good with that” bravado often masks the unvoiced regret that wants to say, “but I wish I could marry. I’m just too afraid.”
So how can we overcome this fear?
First, admit it. Stop denying that you really want to get married, but are afraid of it collapsing. And this is true for guys too. The Bible says, “The man who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favor from the Lord.” ** But that is not the view of many guys.
Second, learn more about your fears. The fear of marriage is often embedded in the fears of inadequacy and abandonment. The Rodger’s book is a good resource on these issues.
Third, study what makes marriages work. Talk to couples who have weathered the marriage storms for 30 or more years. Take them out to lunch and ask them. Go to a marriage seminar like “The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted” with Dr. Gary Chapman.
Lastly, don’t believe the lie that all or most marriages fail. They don’t! But marriages that last require a commitment to learning, loving, respecting, sacrificing, and submission to God’s design for marriage.
* Brittany Wong, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/what-it-looks-like-when-you-really-put-your-kids-first-after-divorce_5612a61fe4b0af3706e16e1c. Posted: 10/05/2015 03:43 PM EDT ** Proverbs 18:22, NLT