Marriage and Culture

In the months leading up to and subsequently following our wedding, Chaz and I often found ourselves informing people in our very extended acquaintance that we were going to be getting married. The majority of them were enthusiastic about the news, or at the very least convincingly feigned excitement. But there were a few whose reactions were more what I would consider reflective of the culture at large. 

Exhibit A (pre-wedding):

Acquaintance: So, what do you have going on this summer?

Chaz: Well, I'm actually getting married! I feel like I'm joining a club.

Acquaintance:'s not a very happy club.

Chaz: ...

Exhibit B (post-wedding):

Jillian: Marriage is great! And the bonus is that I never have to plan a wedding again!

Acquaintance: Well, you don't know that.

Jillian: ...actually I'm quite certain there will only be one...

Acquaintance: Ha! You might as well start calling him your first husband!

Jillian: ...

In both cases, we ended up sort of awkwardly laughing it off and moving on before the conversation went further South, but we were both taken aback by the comments (respectively). 

First of all, I think we were both a bit surprised at the lack of tact. You wouldn't walk up to someone on his or her college graduation day and say, "Well kid, welcome to real life. You won't get a job, everything gets worse from here on out, and there's really nothing to look forward to. You'd be better off without a degree!" Why would anyone consider saying the same type of thing to someone as he or she gets ready to walk down the aisle? I suppose that's a rhetorical question...but one that should be asked nonetheless.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, that is not the expectation I want to feed into my marriage. Granted, it was someone else who said it, not me or Chaz. But I do not appreciate the cultural expectation that marriage will always fail, that it's always miserable, and that even if I don't think so now, it's inevitably going to get worse. 

No, I'm not so naive as to think that marriage will always be a cake walk. No one goes through life without a care in the world, and no one is perfect. But I am perhaps naively optimistic enough to believe that marriage, overall, is good. And I know for a fact that I love it now. 

Before the wedding, one of my biggest fears was the subtle lies of the marriage statistics. More than 50%, they whispered. But our pastor gave us good counsel, and pointed out a verse that I especially needed to hear in light of my anxiety: "the Lord is the witness between you and the wife of your youth." (It's actually in a passage in Malachi that's talking about divorce, but in this instance that's aside from the point.) It was a timely reminder that what we've established is a holy endeavor, and God is the witness and investor. Most comforting of all is that we serve a God who is bigger than any set of statistics.

So I hereby defy this culture of sad statistics and the expectation of failure. I'm not afraid to have higher expectations, and I trust in a God who is incapable of failure.