“But you’re so young!” And other unhelpful phrases married people say

This one’s to my married sisters out there.

I recently read a book by Dr. Meg Jay called The Defining Decade. You can check out her Ted Talk Why 30 is not the new 20. She discusses the biological realities of prolonging or delaying major life milestones such as marriage, choosing a career, and building a family. I’ll focus on one with two points. While life expectancy may be longer now, peak fertility years have not changed. This is fact, not opinion. Science.

“Compared to their twentysomething selves, women are about half as fertile at thirty, about one-quarter as fertile at thirty-five, and about one-eighth as fertile at forty.”
from page 180 of The Defining Decade

Additionally the second and final developmental overproduction of neurons which prompts synaptic pruning and a more healthily developed prefrontal cortex and frontal lobe finalizes in your 20s. This biological process affords greater brain malleability or “wet cement” to learn, grow, fail, and refine how you do life and once it’s gone, it’s gone.

When women who desire marriage and a family and are told, “But you’re so young!” it is both patronizing and unhelpful. Particularly when I’m 26 and single and you’ve been married 30 years and got married when you were 20. The “you just need to be content with your singleness” mantra is also not helpful nor does denying God-honoring desires equate to contentment. We all know that waiting to do something doesn’t necessarily mean we do that something better. Without intention waiting is just procrastinating.

I believe you can and should be discontent with your singleness if you desire marriage and/or a family. And no one should be made to feel unGodly if they don’t desire those things. When Christian women do desire marriage, but are told they should take no initiative toward marriage or family a great disservice to our entire community of faith is done. In a commentary on Mark Regnerus’ The Case for Early MarriageAl Mohler says, “As men and women, we are made for marriage.” And Regnarus states that marriage is a key developmental milestone for the maturation of men. Married women should be teaching younger women who desire marriage {and are not able to further the gospel better alone; such as by translating the Bible into a language where the culture is only accepting of women} that they can desire marriage and pursue it with a gentle and quiet spirit. It is imperative that all believers are intentional about pursuit of marriage.

If you are discontent with your singleness, there is no use pretending you are not; the Lord knows your heart. What you do with discontentment is what matters. Do you take matters into your own hands and forsake God’s standards? Do you wait disgruntled, passive, and panicky as you watch your God-given biological window of opportunity close? Or do you bring others who’ve gone before you into the picture and develop the fruit of self-control while you take charge of the one thing you’ve been given the authority to control – self?

I vote for the third. An active participation in walking through life in pursuit of actualizing God-honoring desires such as marriage and a family. Notice I said God-honoring. If your desire for marriage is not about the gospel; check yoself.

But married friends, please stop telling young women who want to marry and have children “you’re so young,” or “you just need to be content,” or “you have all the time in the world,” or “just serve the Lord and God will bring you someone someday when you least expect it” and instead actually help us. Please don’t tell us how you did things when we are dating someone and asking you questions about your story. We’re likely looking for validation that what we’re doing and what’s happening in our journey is not bad or wrong. So in those moments, help redirect the conversation to questioning us about why we’re asking and what we’re really asking. Ask us some questions about how things are happening, really happening in our present dating story.

Please help us get to the bottom of how to have healthy and life-giving relationships, help us evaluate if we currently have any, and help us develop healthy friendships before we develop any kind of plan for dating. Instruct us to remain diligently, intentional (careful, on purpose) about how we are using our singleness in the midst of implementing our plan to find success in dating. Help us learn to follow these maxims in light of scripture:

Be intentional. Get to work. Pick your family. Do the math.
Don’t be defined by what you didn’t know or didn’t do. -Dr. Meg Jay

 

 

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