Saturday, January 4, 2014

23 things to do instead of getting engaged before you’re 23


Recently the Facebook exploded with friends and friends of friends sharing this article: 23 things to do instead of getting engaged beforeyou’re 23. Of course, I clicked on it. I needed to know what I should have been doing this past year instead of marrying the best guy I’ve ever met on the happiest day of my life.

What followed was a rather interesting viewpoint on the institution of marriage. My reaction?

First, it made me sad. It’s heartbreaking to encounter someone with such a low view on marriage. In the midst of my sheltered upbringing I sometimes forget there are people who have never seen the beauty and experienced the impact of a healthy marriage.

Then, I was in agreement. You should know who you are and what you stand for before you get married. If I learned anything from Family Sexuality class, a healthy marriage does not occur when two people depend fully on each other. A healthy marriage occurs when two people are differentiated enough to stand on their own while still being vulnerable and open to each other. I love Daniel more than I can say, but I also know he does not complete me. I did not marry him so I could hide behind him when the storms of life blow my way.

And then, I was sad again, because the writer’s idea of happiness seems to come from being completely selfish. Her #22 is, in fact, “be selfish.” I don’t know about you, but when I’m living all about me, I’m a pretty miserable person to be and be around. Though it seems contradictory, I find that I’m my happiest when I use my skills and abilities to serve those around me. And, “marriage” is the most selfless thing I’ve ever had to do.

Finally, I totally rejected the idea that all fun and adventure and learning and excitement end when you get married. Just because we tied the knot doesn’t mean I’m trapped within a white picket fence filled with babies and mom jeans with no hopes of escape. I’m living in a multi-millionaire’s guest house, working at the job of my dreams, and planning our next adventure {with no white fences or kids in sight} – and all of that’s possible because I’m - MARRIED - *gasp!* 

So get married at 22, or don’t. What’s right for me isn’t necessarily right for you. And what’s right for you, Miss Vanessa, isn’t necessarily right for me. Either way, be here, now, and make the most of today.

Here are 23 things to do instead of {or in addition to} getting engaged before you’re 23:

1.     Get a passport. See the world.

2.     Discover your passion.

3.     Befriend someone completely different than you.

4.     Adopt a pet.

5.     Spend a night underneath the stars.

6.     Try a new recipe.

7.     Get a tattoo. But make it meaningful – those things last forever.

8.     Explore a different culture.

9.     Start a small business.

10. Cut your hair.

11. Say “I’m sorry” to someone you’ve wronged.

12. Make something with your own hands.

13. Learn another language.

14. Volunteer for community service.

15. Tell your parents or guardians “thank you.”

16. Go see a live performance – a concert, a musical, a play.

17. Fast.

18. Start a conversation with a stranger.

19. Try a new sport.

20. Be completely vulnerable with someone.

21. Write a blog.

22. Throw a party.

23. Be selfless…


Because at the end of the day, “If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” – Matthew 10:39

33 comments:

  1. Jenny, you hit it spot on! This was my exact reaction as well to her blog post. The idea that there is a specific age you should wait until to get married is just silly because we all develop (emotionally, physically, spiritually) at different rates. I have friends in their early 30's who still aren't ready for marriage. I FELT ready for marriage when I was still in high school (thank goodness God made me wait until He KNEW I was ready-- which happened to be when I was 21). I love your list of suggestions. I would add 24) Find someone to mentor you who is in a later stage of life and 25) Find someone younger than you to mentor.

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  2. My parents got married when they were 19 and were together until the day my dad died. I don't think that age necessarily has anything to do with it. But I do think that in this day and age, people in general are more concerned with having a wedding than having a marriage. I think that's where most problems arise from in that regard.

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  3. My mom was 19 when she married my dad, too. I, however, was definitely not ready for marriage at that age. And, yes, there are way too many people out there who dream more about having a wedding than they do of finding the right partner. I think our culture {and Pinterest} have encouraged that. I, personally, never want to plan another wedding again. I was done one month into the engagement. And the day goes by way too fast to even be worth the amount of time and money put into it.

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  4. Yes, the perfect time for marriage is definitely different for everyone {which is part of what makes it so beautiful}. I love your ideas for 24 & 25! Discipleship is incredibly important, especially when you're making so many transitional decisions in the younger years.

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  5. Pinterest definitely encourages it. Don't get me wrong, I love Pinterest just as much as the next girl but sometimes it just makes me feel inadequate - in LOTS of different areas.
    Not gonna lie... I hate planning and reeeeally don't want to spend money I don't have so we've actually talked about eloping once that time finally comes for us.

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  6. This post is amazing!!! :) The paragraph about being able to stand on your own was my favorite! I agree 100%. Just because you get married, doesn't mean you can't do great things, follow your dreams or be adventurous!! :) I love how everyone has been responding to that viral post that I never saw until it became viral in the blog world! :)

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  7. Sounds like a good plan... Just make sure you still have a fabulous dress and let everyone tell you how beautiful you are over and over again {that's one of the best parts}

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  8. Have you read "Passionate Marriage" by David Schnarch? It was one of my books for Family Sexuality class. Granted, it's about sex {and goes into detail at times} but the first half of the book talks about differentiation and has wonderful explanations of being connected while standing on your own feet. We only read the first nine chapters for class, but I recommend those.

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  9. I haven't! I'll have to look into it :)

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  10. So... #3 on that list is make out with a stranger. Definitely not something I have ever aspired to. I like your #3 better! Great post!

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  11. Haha, in total agreement. What's the point in putting yourself through that awkwardness? And, thank you so much! {P.S. I pretty much just got done stalking your blog. Loved it! Can't wait to read more.}

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  12. Haha love this. I wrote what NOT to do. http://christiemohamed.com/2014/01/02/23-things-not-to-do-before-you-get-engaged-or-ever/

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  13. I love this! I had a hard time with that list too.. I was saddened with the way marriage is viewed! Love your liat !

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  14. Love this! Your list is much better!

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  15. Thanks Christie! I love your list, too! You're handling the backlash wonderfully!

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  16. Thanks, Elizabeth! I did have a hard time with the list, but I think I had a harder time with all my Facebook friends who were sharing it, agreeing with it and praising it. I just wanted to give them a reason to pause and really think about what they were reading and supporting.

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  17. Thanks, Kacie! She has a couple good ideas, but I thought most of them could be improved and more helpful for everyone.

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  18. yes, yes, and yes!
    seriously you have SUCH a good list (and the other list, i agree, sad!)
    that last one "be selfless"....amen!
    and that learn another language, man i need to jump on this.

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  19. I tend to ignore all articles like this since I've been with my partner. We are now engaged and everyone assumes we will be having children next year because of this, no way! We have spent 2 years traveling the world and are off to South Korea just after our wedding, sounds to me like we are still living a fulfilling life for us!

    A lot of this rubbish is written to make single people feel better and it is just absolutely unnecessary.

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  20. I love this! I love how you incorporated some of the {positive} ideas from the original post, but added some with lots of value as well! Great post.

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  21. Yes. There are some great truths hidden in there but also so many lies against marriage. I didn't get married young (I was 24) but so many of my favorite adventures are with my husband. and the joy of marring young is to have time to adventure together before kids! and wife life/ mom life can be wonderfully adventurous too!

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  22. I read that post around the time when it first came out, and it also made me sad to see such a low view of marriage. But then--much of society does have a low view of marriage these days. I was asked one time by a girl I just met if I regretted getting married so young. (At the time, I'd already been married 2 years...I've now been married over 3 years, I got married at 19). There's plenty of room for adventures taken together with your spouse!

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  23. I think everyone can agree that was a poor list to argue her point. I hope my list can be positive goals for everyone. And, I have yet to start on my learn Spanish goal for this year!

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  24. I usually ignore articles like these, too. But too many people that I consider friends were sharing it. I am all about celebrating singleness - it's certainly a special time in life - but you don't have to be disrespectful to people who are married to do that.

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  25. P.S. Your life sounds like so much fun! I hope you have a beautiful wedding and so man wonderful experiences in South Korea!

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  26. Thank you, Madison! I didn't want to disregard everything she said - she did have a couple good points - I just thought there was a lot of things she missed and a lot that could be done without. Thanks for stopping by!

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  27. You're so right - and with the divorce rate so high, do you blame them? Marriage definitely isn't rainbows and butterflies and white picket fences, but I think it's our job to show how great marriage can be when two people commit to living life together even when it's hard and you want out. And that kind of marriage is DEFINITELY not adventure-less. Thanks for stopping by!

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  28. I just read the original article and like you it makes me sad. :( I like your list much better! Love the verse at the end of your post too!

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  29. Interesting response. I like that your encouraging people to do whats best for them! Check out my response to "23 Things" and the counter response "My First Blog" here: http://hannahkrisheq.blogspot.com/2014/01/dont-tell-me-what-to-do.html

    Similar to your post, My response is meant to take a step back from personal preference of single or married life and to encourage young women to do what you think best fits you.

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  30. I had a lot of the same thoughts, Jenny! I'm glad you wrote a response to it. I thought she did have some valid points, but she came off as very arrogant. I liked your post.

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  31. Thank you, Allison! It does make me sad, but it also shows just how important it is for us to be Christlike in our marriages to help break that stereotype. And the only way we can do that is by being selfless - which points back to the verse at the end of the blog! Thanks for your encouragement!

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  32. Thank you, Adrianne! It's been forever since I've seen you. I hope your life {and marriage} are going great! I think I read the original post at least 10 times. At first I was really defensive, but then I started to see she had some good points buried under all that attitude. There were some things that I just couldn't agree with at all, though.

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