My sense is that the rising generation is afraid of marriage. I don’t blame them. It’s not primarily for selfish reasons (though those are a factor). It’s because they’re shell shocked after a childhood of divorce and dysfunction. And then there are the selfish reasons. Or I talk to young couples who don’t want to have kids, because, for however they word it, they are anxious about moving from a position of independence to a position of vulnerability.
There are a few things that I wouldn’t have learned if I didn’t get married and have kids, and they’re captured in this picture of a couple getting married during flood season in the Philippines. If I had to pick a picture that pretty much summarizes what life is like, it would be this one. And part of the reason why I like being married is because it has made me a realist. Marriage is a good microcosm of all of life. There’s just no other way to learn these things than to make one’s self vulnerable to relationships. And my sense for what life is all about comes out in the advice I give to young couples about their weddings before they get married. I tell them:
- There’s always a glitch.
- It’s not about the details, it’s about the relationship you’re building.
- Whether or not it’s a happy occasion has more to do with your insides than your outsides.
- How you respond will tell your friends who you are.
- Life is a mess. Learn to deal with it.
- Are their smiles better or worse because of the rain?
- Why are you complaining about the rain?
- You can tell a couple is healthy because you know they will one day laugh about the disasters.
- On the day you die, the few days of your life that counted will not have been sunny; they will be days when you laughed at and loved despite the rain.
My new book is
Hardwired: Finding the God You Already Know