This post is a follow-up to my earlier post A Warning And A Lesson. There was some confusion about that post, which I’m hoping to clear up.
I am going to begin by addressing this comment from The Unreal Woman:
So a young woman’s family actually bothering to provide vetting in her process of finding a husband is now horribly wrong? Either you want courtship and the interference from the adults who know the young woman well that it will entail or you want to just do what you want without other people interfering.
To make it clear, I do not have a problem with someone’s family vetting a potential spouse. In fact, I am a major supporter of it. The lack of familial involvement in the marriage process in the last few generations has, in my opinion, been one of the major reasons why the marriage market is so messed up right now. I would be a hypocrite to support the Courtship Pledge if I opposed family involvement and interference in the courtship process.
At the same time I’ve received some e-mails from people who suggest that while I may not have a problem with parental input, there is a general consensus among men towards the opposite belief. I think that this view has merit, based on what I’ve seen and heard, especially talking to men around these parts. A lot of men are highly suspicious of parental involvement in the present marriage market, and frankly I have trouble blaming them. Most parents these days act only as a negative force when it comes to courtship. By that I mean that the only thing most of them ever do is exercise a form of veto power. Few if any will actually go to the trouble of helping their children (principally daughters) to find good, marriageable spouses. So its understandable if men are leery at this prospective system- the sum total of their experience with it has likely only been negative. When all you’ve ever heard is No its easy to suspect that you won’t ever hear a Yes.
[As a side note, a much better method exists that what these veto-parents utilize. Right now the general strategy is to wait for a daughter to bring a man to their attention, and then determine if he is suitable or not. Oftentimes this will be met with a rejection, which can be problematic if the woman has already got some feelings for him and/or thinks he would be a good husband. A superior method would be for parents to go out, screen men and then introduce the ones who are suitable to their daughter. That way, his approval is already “baked in.” I think daughters would also approve, as they would be the ones having the “final say” under this system.]
Another thing I want to clear up is the role of the example I provided. I included that story from stringtheory mostly to buttress my argument that encouraging men to marry young is of limited utility in the present age. I don’t know any of the players in that story. In legal terms it must be something like triple hearsay or something. That is to say I don’t know any of the background details. I don’t know if there were some perfectly valid reasons for the parents to reject that young man as a suitor. It might not have been his age at all, but something else, and they only used his age as an excuse. Or perhaps the parents didn’t think their daughter was ready for marriage, or that she would be suitable for him. The point is, I don’t know the full details. None of us do.
I will note that TSK was right in pointing out that the young man did respect the parent’s wishes. He didn’t try and elope with their daughter. Heck, he even respected the wishes of the elders of his church, despite their patently unbiblical perspective (which was apparent in later comments by stringtheory).
Something that surprised me about that post is that no one asked me what the warning was, and what the lesson was. I hope that means it was obvious, but in case it wasn’t: The lesson was about what I think young Christian men should be taught about women, and the warning was that encouraging and preparing men for young marriage wasn’t wise without also preparing them for the high probability that they won’t be able to marry (or at least, marry well).
Another thing I want to discuss is the intersection of maturity, delaying young marriage, and age gaps. I agree in principle that for some young women it would be best for them to wait a few years to marry. They might not have the maturity at, say 18 or 19, to marry, but would in a few years of continued development. But I think that such cases are not common, and instead quite rare. From my own experience and observations, women (very) rarely become more suited for marriage as they age. Either they were raised properly, or they weren’t. Adding more time to the clock won’t change that. Rather, women who are older tend to become less suitable for marriage- they pick up more bad habits, they are more cynical and jaded, they are more used to independent living, they are more influenced by the general culture, and so on. So parents need to be careful about advocating it.
Also, there seems to be a general consensus in traditionalist circles that marriage is good for maturing men and/or encouraging them to settle down- the old “a weighted truck drives more surely” line. Yet the counterpart- that marriage and family life is good for maturing young women and so on and so forth, doesn’t seem to get the same play. To be honest, this makes me suspicious. While I acknowledge that what works for men might not work for women, and vice-versa, I’m not sure this is the case here. Either one view or the other is likely equally applicable.
Lastly, I’ve had some people mention maturity and age gaps together. Frankly, this baffles me. Either someone is ready for marriage, or someone isn’t. I have yet to be convinced that an age-gap really changes the metrics or dynamics (or whatever you want to call it) of marriage by itself. Or at least, so far as personality or maturity issues are concerned. This is purely anecdotal of course, but speaking from personal experience one of the women with whom I have “clicked” best was significantly younger than me. Big age gap, yet we both got along much better than with those our own age (and we both acknowledged as much).
There’s more that can be said, but I think I’ll leave it for another post in the future if I believe it needs to be addressed.
[Update: Allamagoosa has written a post in response to this one, you can find it here.]