At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old man, what’s with all this living-together-before-you-marry experiment? And why are young people waiting until their late 20’s on into their late 30’s before tying the knot?
I should preface my thoughts by saying that my generation has a poor track record to stand on when it comes to successful marriages. 50% is nothing to shout about, for sure. Maybe this new way of marrying will work out better than it’s predecessor; only time will tell. But I do have some concerns about where young adults heads are at when it comes to committed relationships.
Many 20-somethings seem to have a mismatch between their aspirations and reality. They believe that they are going to find this perfect mate and have this perfect relationship right off the bat. Perhaps this derives from the fact that they have been pushed their whole lives to be perfect in academics, athletics, and any other activity they were involved in. Many have been put on pedestals and indulged for the unique, bright champions they are expected to be. It’s tough to drop these labels and expectations.
This indulged generation has also grown up not having to delay gratification, and thus they expect instant fame, success, abundance, and gratification in all aspects of their lives. This makes me worry that they don’t know what it takes to sacrifice, put off pleasure, collaborate, cooperate, and be fully responsible when it comes to relationships.
In the past, we valued the process of couples growing together. You built your careers, nest, family, and futures together. Talk to your grandparents about their marriage, and I bet most will look back at those lean years as the most fun and gratifying of all. Tough times and sacrifice for a common good brought people together, and created the grit and closeness to carry them through challenges.
I believe that satisfaction and fulfillment come mostly from commitment, not from succeeding in getting results. It’s the process that’s most important, not the outcome.
And I worry that living together before marriage is not the same commitment as marriage. Without the vow, it’s just playing house. And that may not give couples motivation to do the hard work involved in creating a life-long relationship.