Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Marriage and Maturity

Homeschoolers are an interesting crowd, really.  In our co-op in New Jersey, one woman told us, “I remember the day I joined this group, I was so relieved that you didn’t all wear denim jumpers and tennis shoes!”

 . . . and you might have to be a homeschooler to get that one.
In any case, one of the interesting things I notice about homeschoolers is, as a group, they tend to marry younger than the rest of us.  I’m not exactly sure why.  They are often more mature at a younger age than their peers; that’s probably a good part of it. 

The rest of us in society encourage kids to put off marriage until they are older, more ready, more mature.  Of course, nobody has a really clear definition of maturity in this context.  Mature enough to . . . hold down a job?  Raise a child?  Communicate patiently and effectively with your spouse?  Stop partying every weekend?  Achieve self-actualization and have a good sense of “who you are”?  Such qualifications would eliminate a good chunk of the population, and the species would start to die out.
I wonder, though, if we’ve got this thing backwards.  Maybe part of the purpose of marriage is to bring us into maturity.  Maybe this is why, historically, people have married young, and parents have had a hand in choosing the spouse – so the mature parents can ensure a good match.
One of the first things I learned after I got married is how selfish I was.  And then I had kids – and then I learned how selfish I really was.  Maybe, for some of us, it takes being married to realize how far we are from maturity.  Maybe we can’t learn to communicate patiently and effectively until we have someone in our face all the time whom we have to figure out a way to communicate with.  Maybe it’s easier to get a sense of who you are when you have an intimate companion there to contrast yourself with.  Maybe some of us will never be motivated to become a good, mature person until there’s someone we love who desperately needs us to be good and mature for them.
I read a book once with the subtitle, “What if marriage isn’t about making us happy, but about making us holy?”  Exactly.

No comments: