The saga continues with more insight from the astonishing Dr. Ruthi. How long can I drag this out? There really is no knowing, but I imagine the answer is forever. If you have any questions you’d like to add to the conversation please feel free to let me know. We’ll get them worked in.
Young people are going through puberty at earlier ages than ever before in history, but they are waiting a very long time after puberty before they get married (mid-20s for women and late 20s for men). So, it’s probably more difficult to avoid premarital sex than ever before. Of course, men have always had socially tolerated options for premarital sex (prostitutes, family servants, slaves, etc.), but “nice” women generally have married soon after reaching puberty, thus lowering the risk of premarital sex. Today, a woman is likely to become physically mature while in middle school (if not before!), but she probably will wait until age 25 or so before marrying. The availability of birth control makes premarital sex relatively low risk, so it’s not surprising that so many people opt for the sex before the marriage. And, I agree with you that couples who marry hastily because they want to have sex are playing a very dangerous game. Perhaps people shouldn’t even enter serious dating relationships until they are at a point in their lives where they are ready to think about settling into marriage, but that’s a tough goal to pursue, especially when one’s peers all seem to be in serious dating relationships by the time they are 14 or 16. Besides, how can one select an appropriate spouse if one avoids serious dating relationships? I’m sometimes frightened by couples who tell me that they started dating each other at age 12 (or some ridiculously early age) and that they have never dated anyone else. So, they get married when they are 18 or 20. Some of them do live happily ever after, but a lot of them don’t. I haven’t seen any statistics on the phenomenon, but it seems to me that an increasing percentage of HU students are getting married before graduating. Maybe that’s the best way for them to avoid premarital sex, but I think they miss out on a lot of the college experience by getting married so young.
Just when you are ready to give up on relationships and to have all males exiled to Antarctica, a high quality male will come along and sweep you off your feet (probably!). Wouldn’t life be simpler if we had arranged marriages?!?
Mary Ruthi, Ph.D.
Gosh, arranged marriages. I think about how much better that would be all the time. As someone who sees love as a choice and less of a dopey feeling I think that it just seems more logical. If love weren’t something we did and not something we felt we wouldn’t be told to do it.
I’m very much of the mind that the dating game is a silly thing to get mixed up in, if one isn’t ready for a more serious and lasting commitment. I find myself horrified with you for those who get married having never really encountered anyone but the person they’ve dated since high school…or middle school. (Middle schoolers dating. I can’t handle it)
On a personal level, I can’t imagine knowing myself well enough, even now, let alone at 18 or even 20 to say, “yes, this is clearly the exact sort of man I’d like to spend the rest of my life with and who will best build me up in Christ and live my life with me. And whom I will best benefit.” That isn’t to say some people don’t know themselves well enough for that, but most of the 18 or 20-year-olds I’ve ever met hardly know what they want for breakfast. (perhaps in part because they don’t wake up for it) I can’t imagine them making more important life decisions with discernment.
And I’m sure to many I sound like some stuffy prude or a heinous and jaded woman with no place to speak to the subject of relationships. Maybe that’s true, but I’ve seen enough people make stupid, life-altering mistakes to want to be a part of those statistics. That isn’t to say I shall never pursue a serious relationship, but it definitely has me thinking more carefully than I see a lot of my peers who are just happy to have that attention of another. Which is understandable, but the instant that begins to be the reason we start relationships we find ourselves on a slippery slope. That leads to sex and more approval or using each other for our own benefit. We begin to find our self-worth in someone else. In a person who will inevitably let us down. Because people do that, whether they mean to or not. It’s scary that that’s a game anyone would want to play with their self-esteem, heart or mind.
But what do I know?!