While on a trip to New York City with friends last month, Brandon proposed to his girlfriend, Diane. He borrowed one of our old back-up cameras and had a friend take these photos during and after the proposal. They had all been ice skating in Rockefeller Center when he dropped to one knee to “pop the question.” He must’ve learned the romantic stuff from his dad. 😉
This was not a spur-of-the-moment decision. Brandon asked Diane’s dad for her hand in marriage before the trip; they have dated exclusively for three years and have been talking for at least a year about “when they get married.” They are both responsible young adults, diligent in schoolwork (Brandon has a 3.3 GPA!), extracurricular activities, and part-time jobs. They are both Christian, and have both expressed a desire to “wait” until marriage, which of course we are very glad about. They have not dated around, as many young people are encouraged to do; we believe the current “norm” for dating in our culture is merely divorce-training: date until the new wears off and you find someone you like better.
We’re excited for them. But not everyone, even within our extended family, agrees. Even if they wait a year and a half, as they are currently planning, until Diane has graduated college (Brandon will have one year left), they will be only 21 and 22 when they marry. Many people believe that’s too young. But I disagree.
When one relative told Brandon he was too young, I asked his 87-year-old great-grandmother sitting nearby how old she was when she got married. She said she was 17. She was married to that same man until the day he died, and judging by the photos around the house, she still loves him dearly. Brandon’s other paternal great-grandparents married straight out of high school, and are still married 64 years later. My grandparents were married more than sixty years before my grandfather passed on, and my grandmother was just 17 when she married. I believe the problem lies not in how young or old we marry (though certainly, maturity should be considered and much prayer must be involved). I believe the problem is our throw-away, self-centered culture.
These days, most folks don’t seem to have the fortitude to stick with something once it becomes difficult. We want everything NOW: lightning-fast internet, instant downloads, drive-through windows, and microwave meals. But I recently read a statistic that struck me profoundly:
Two-thirds of unhappily married spouses who stayed married reported that their marriages were happy five years later. The most unhappy marriages reported the most dramatic turnarounds. Among those who rated their marriages as very unhappy, almost 8 out of 10 who avoided divorce were happily married five years later. (See complete article.)
Five years. It really isn’t that long in the grand scheme of things, but in our quick-fix, high-speed world, it seems like forever. This same study also found that “the benefits of divorce have been oversold” and “unhappily married adults who divorced were no happier than unhappily married adults who stayed married.” Ending an unhappy marriage does NOT guarantee happiness! I can attest to the fact that divorce is NOT easy, and is painful for everyone involved. Both Ken and I are children of divorced parents, and Brandon and Kathryn have been shuffled to and fro since they were just three years old as a result of post-divorce custody arrangements; our family has seen first hand the hurt that divorce causes for adults and the children involved.
There is nothing easy about divorce, and it’s not “over” when the papers are signed. If you are divorced, I offer encouragement: it will likely be a long and painful journey, but God can bring good out of any situation. Keep in mind, however, that it may not look like what you think “good” should look like.
But if you are in a marriage that seems hopeless, please don’t throw it away! I encourage you to completely surrender yourself and your marriage to Christ: with Him, there is always hope!