18

Get Married Already

From JP | June 8, 2015 . By Jonathan Pokluda

We hear it all the time: Millennials (my generation) are getting married later in life, if they get married at all. The average age at which people first get married has increased by about 7 years since the 1950s. Or if that sounds like too long ago to compare: according to the U.S. Census, it increased by 2 years just between 2005 and 2013 (the most recent year they list numbers for). The average married woman was single until she was 27.4 years old, and the average married man didn’t tie the knot until he was 29.4.

People still want to get married, though: the percentage of high school seniors who say that marriage and family are “extremely important” has remained completely flat over the last four decades. So something’s amiss; something is delaying marriage or making it harder to obtain.

Why It Matters

Not everyone will get married. And if you don’t, that doesn’t mean you’re faulty or that God loves you any less. You may even feel called to singleness. But if you’re not called to singleness, it’s hard to make a biblical case for intentionally delaying marriage.

Marrying later makes it harder to stay pure (1 Corinthians 7:9), since marriage is God’s design for sex. It makes it more difficult to have and raise kids together (Genesis 9:7). It means you get to spend less time enjoying marriage together (Proverbs 5:18-19). And, for some people, it means they delay maturing and taking on responsibility (1 Corinthians 13:11).

Why People Wait to Get Married

There can be some good reasons why some people should wait to get married (or not get married at all). However, those reasons haven’t really changed over the years, so they aren’t the reason why people are getting married later today.

So what is causing people to wait? There are a number of possibilities:

  • They’re just “not ready.” This could be a good reason or a bad one. Certainly you should be mature enough first. But if it’s taking people today years longer to become mature, that’s not a good thing. Why aren’t you ready? And if you’re not ready today, what are you doing to get ready? Will that just magically happen? One day you’ll wake up and be ready for marriage? Doubt it. Work to become the type of man or woman who is ready.
  • They buy the “live together first” lie. This is the most likely cause; the rise of cohabitation corresponds nicely with the decline in marriage. If you’re a Christian, living together outside of marriage shouldn’t even be an option; it’s rebellion against your Lord. But even if you’re not a Christian, living together before marriage is a bad idea. It sets you up for failure, not success (and yes, that’s still true according to recent research). Living together isn’t a smart way to prepare for marriage; if you’re not ready for marriage, then you’re not ready to live together, either.
  • They’re not financially ready. This one doesn’t make any sense to me. Getting married, and combining two households into one, helps with finances. Statistically, married people (who stay married) end up much wealthier than if they’d stayed single. As a guy, I understand wanting to be able to provide for your wife; but, in another odd stat, married men make more than single men. (Something about taking responsibility, working smarter, and making wiser choices.) The only way in which not being financially ready makes sense to me is if you’re talking about not being able to pay for the kind of wedding you want—and people who focus on having a more expensive wedding are more likely to divorce later on. So just do a cheaper wedding, and focus on planning a great marriage instead.
  • They have unrealistic expectations. In a city with millions of people, you can’t find anyone who meets your standards? Then maybe your standards are too high. Unrealistic standards will cost you in two very expensive ways: 1) they will keep you single so that you miss out on years of marriage, and 2) they will cause you to marry for the wrong reasons and have your marriage fail for the same wrong reasons. Ask yourself this: “Who would God set me up with?” I’ll give you a hint: the fact that she’s “hot” is not high on His priority list.
  • They’re married to pornography. This one is hard to admit, but is sometimes true. Pornography is a trap that ruins marriage in more ways than one. You may not think you’re choosing porn over marriage, but the time you give to it is definitely not time you’re spending getting ready for marriage or building a relationship that could lead to marriage. And it’s a big source of the unrealistic expectations we just talked about, because porn is not real.
  • They want to “play the field” first. This is unwise and, like several items on the list, can be outright sin (depending on your definition of “play the field”). The motivation behind this is usually that you don’t want to miss out on anything by getting married young; you want to have fun before settling down. Here’s one problem with that: marriage is fun. It’s hard work, too, but it’s fun, and it’s a lot more fulfilling (and less hurtful, with less consequences) than serial dating.
  • They just don’t get asked. This is a consequence of all the reasons above. I know that a lot of single ladies are reading this and thinking: JP, I don’t want to wait to get married, but no one is asking me! Well, that’s why I’m writing this. Guys, step one to getting married: ask a good girl out.

If you’re waiting faithfully, or pursuing wisely, and you’re doing everything more or less right: don’t be discouraged. Stay faithful. None of this means that there’s anything wrong with marrying later or staying single, if it’s done for the right reasons. And God is in control. Which means there’s one more reason why some people wait to get married: because God has a plan for you. He’s up to something. I’ve had friends get married later in life than they might have originally planned, and seen it all suddenly make sense: that’s who they were waiting on. That’s why it didn’t work out sooner. So stay faithful, and trust in His timing.

– JP
(With help from Kevin McConaghy)

Related articles:
Re-Redefining Marriage
When Everyone’s Getting Married (Except for You)
How Long Should You Date Before Marriage?

  • Jojo

    Pornography is a sin!

  • Todd

    JP,

    Wonderfully written and replete with biblical insights. Thank you for laboring so consistently toward being an ambassador of truth!

    May the Lord continue to reveal areas where many of us are “deceived” and may the Truth of the Scriptures set us free (John 8:32).

    Love your words here, “But if you’re not called to singleness, it’s hard to make a biblical case for intentionally delaying marriage.” Amen!

    Proverbs 11:20 — thank you for sharing your wisdom,

    Todd

  • Maya

    Naomi Diaz we are the same person, i swear. My story is almost identical, God bless you as we walk this journey in faith.

    Maya

  • Amber

    Great post! Ladies, if you are single and waiting, it is okay. Again, nothing is wrong with you/us! God has a plan. Waiting doesn’t mean sitting at home! Focus on being the person that you would want to meet and get out and give your time to something you believe in! Strengthen the qualities that you would want in someone, in yourself. Nothing is wrong with having standards…PLEASE do. Just make sure they are truly important. If he is a man following God- truly following God, he will most likely have the standards that you desire! 🙂

  • Jon B

    JP, your words can’t be more true. Obviously they came from our God up above through you.
    I am living testimony that living together before the marriage creates disaster. I can go on ad nauseum about why it’s worthwhile to wait to live together until you’re actually married, but you’ve already covered it.
    All I can say is this to the men: Step up. Our society has placed it’s ideals and values (really the lack there of) upon us and beat us over the head with them. The truth of how to be a man is the example provided by our Savior himself, Jesus Christ.
    I learned valuable lessons from my previous engagement and understand how it all unraveled. We didn’t build our relationship with God as our foundation.

  • Naomi Diaz

    Thank you for those encouraging words JP! These last few days this topic has been in my mind. I consider myself a strong and accomplished woman, but sometimes its hard to keep it up, specially in the matters of the heart. I don’t share my personal life in public but the stories here resonated and I hope mine will resonate with other women in similar situation. I am one of those stats you mentioned who married late, focused on my career. Married the wrong guy at 29 and had to end it 3yrs later. Been 3 yrs of enjoying my singlehood, but every year that goes on is a year I didn’t built memories with that special someone I hope to share my life with, and is another year that reminds me I might not get the chance to have kids (I’m 35). I don’t live desperate, I am in peace with my reality but I do share the same feelings as Jessi and Haley. I also find that at Church is really hard to meet guys. Also, I often notice that most are already married or in a relationship. It is discouraging and sometimes you can’t help but to go out with unbelievers and wonder, Where are the single Godly men at? I can only trust that God knows my heart and wait for the right guy.

  • Margie cord

    Thanks I needed that! Ive learned so much at watermark about Christ and family and friends and waiting for the guy to come up to me!maybe it is cause of my age and differences! A friend lent me a book that helped!

  • Ron

    JP, solid article.
    To ladies: be encouraged.Solid guys are asking. I shake my head in disbelief when I see some of the most godly men(and I stress men) I know not get a second date.
    **That reason could be a seperate article**. We get friend-zoned many times too. But, the good news is many are trying I can assure that. It might just not make the headline news 😉

  • Noah Ware

    JP, thanks for writing things like this. It helps keep me positive when I’m down about this aspect in my life. I’m 27, and still waiting for the Lord to show me His plan for who I’m to marry. At times it is lonely and discouraging, but I know I just need to stay faithful and depend on His timing. Thanks for reminding us that God IS in control and that He has a plan for our lives.

  • Steve Jennings D

    Hi my name is Steve I am an Indian your words are true I am faithfully in God to answer my prayers for my marriage please remember me in your prayers – Steve

  • Elle

    That last point is exactly why so many Christian women are still single in their 30s. I am one of them. There are lots of us not getting asked out on dates, let alone getting asked for marriage. We want things God’s way, we’re not scared of commitment, we want to have and raise children, we have our “stuff” together (financially, spiritually, physically, relationally)…we’re just not getting asked out by Christian men.

  • Stephen Olmon

    Preachhhhh!

  • Haley Taylor

    Thank you so much for this. Honestly I’ve been trying to shrug off the disappointment of being single for what I think is a long time. It’s disheartening to see the friends in my circle have beautiful marriages and even kids and me not have any of that. I’m trying to be strong and supportive while being shoved in more bridesmaids dresses than I know what to do with. I tell myself I’m okay with it all… but I actually broke down and felt all those lonely emotions this past weekend. Thank you for this encouragement. I soo needed to hear this.

  • Jessi

    Thank you for including the last reason. I was getting frustrating reading the others thinking “but I DO want to get married!”. We were just discussing this at our small group the other day. Being a single woman in the church is extremely difficult because there are very few single Christian men. I completely understand that some have their standards set too high…or that they’re coming up with completely unrealistic expectations for another human…but for those of us who are simply looking for a man who loves God, is intelligent, serves others, and can make a girl laugh, it seems like those standards aren’t outrageous. It can often feel like looking for a man who loves God (or even barely believes in Jesus)IS the unrealistic standard which is sadly why so many women settle for unbelievers as a spouse. Thank you so much for this post. I hope all the readers share it with the guys they know 🙂