The average American bride walks down the aisle for the first time at age 25, while the average groom says “I do” at age 27, but one Catholic writer believes these numbers should not be higher, but lower.
In a recent blog post for the National Catholic Register, writer Pat Archbold, a husband and father of five, argues Catholics should encourage their children to marry young. “The more time they spend finding themselves,” Archbold writes, “the lesser likelihood that there will be anything worth finding.”
“Many Catholics, like society at large, encourage their children to postpone marriage. Go to college. Get a job. Get financially stable. Date around. Find out who you are first, then consider marriage. Problem is, by the time you do all these things to find out who YOU are, the one things you can count on who you are is ‘not married.’ This is why people now do not get married until they are in their late 20s, if at all. By then, society has messed them up so much by a decade of self-centeredness that they will probably make lousy spouses.”
This article negates the intangible, life-changing, spiritually-enriching moments that can only be found within singlehood. Archbold’s belief that singlehood only conjures selfishness and narcissism is a baseless notion that is simply refuted by the vast array of single Catholics on CatholicMatch who have accepted their singlehood and embraced the many opportunities available to them to enhance their personal development and enrich their faith life.
Archbold says that Catholics should “encourage our young people to find themselves in marriage,” but how about finding themselves within an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ?
The notion of finding oneself within another discounts the sacredness of our individuality and the unique impact each of us are called to make in this world. No one can deny that others teach us valuable lessons, help us grow and encourage us to live a life of honor, but when did it ever become acceptable to define one’s self by any relationship, even a marriage?
Beyond the emotional side of things, there are also practical factors to consider. If you marry later in life, you’re more likely to be secure in your career, free of college debt and more confident in what you’re looking for in a spouse. Dating experiences can be painful or downright humorous, but they’re also necessary to determine what works for you and what doesn’t.
And get this: According to the National Center for Health Statistics, about 60 percent of couples who marry between 20 and 25 are destined for divorce.
Personally, I take pride in the strides that I have made as a single Catholic. While it would have been easier to experience the highs and lows of life with a husband at my side, I have been forced to live life self-sufficiently. I am responsible for my well-being, my career, my happiness and my faith life. I recognize that I alone must discover who I am and who God has called me to be before I can fully give myself to another in a balanced, life-giving marriage.
Mr. Archbold may disagree, but my years as a single Catholic woman are teaching me how to be a better daughter, a better friend, a better human being and ultimately, a better wife. Marrying young should not be a mandate – the only mandate I follow is the gentle tug of the Holy Spirit, who reassures me every day that every season has a holy purpose, even if we don’t always understand.
So, CatholicMatchers, do you agree or disagree with Archbold? What are the pros and cons of marrying young?