Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The New Marriage Deal

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These are the souvenir earphones my school gave out for Senior Dinner Dance. They're miles beyond our prom key chains that broke a week later, and as a bonus, they come in a commemorative box that could pass for a ring case at a distance.
My friend Matt took full advantage of the fact. While our principals looked on, he knelt down and proposed to the nearest girl, our friend Faith. Sadly, I didn't get any pictures of the looks on their faces."They thought it was real!" We laughed as we made our quick getaway across the parking lot.That's when I realized it could've been. Marriage isn't a joke for us anymore. We laugh the most at things that are forbidden, but now we've crossed that threshold. Soon, Matt will be kneeling down for real.Just maybe not to Faith.

My friend Shelby is already engaged. We were Sterling Scholars together-a departmental award/scholarship competition put on by every school in the state of Utah. I didn't know her at all beforehand, but we posed for pictures and shared a table at the awards banquet. Yesterday I got home from work, clicked on my facebook feed, and the first picture to pop up was Shelby flashing a Diamond ring from a bridge with some boy.We have been out of high school for twenty two days.And she's only the first.My brother came by the computer, glanced at Shelby over my shoulder, and said, "Married by eighteen, divorced by nineteen." But I know that's not true. Some people have the perseverance it takes to get it right the first time.My mother's parents divorced when she was in kindergarten. One of her elementary school teachers fit all the divorced kids at one table. When my grandmother's parents separated, it was Something Polite People Don't Talk About. But when I met with my Sterling Scholar adviser, she scoffed at the sheer number of divorce essays she'd seen for the Hardships I've Overcome prompt. However real their heartbreak, divorced kids don't qualify as sufferers anymore.Divorce is new. Newer than two other marriage delayers, prolonged lifespans and educational pursuit.
Young brides are shamed. I've never had a boyfriend and I'm headed to the top school in Utah. But all I ever hear is "Don't get that MRS degree too fast." Of course, it's worse when you're actually a bride, according to teen bride blogger Natasha Craig. Some of the responses she's heard include:

"You're too young to know what real love is."

"Are you even old enough to sign the marriage certificate?"
"Are you pregnant or something?"
You know what? 
If a young couple gets divorced, they'll do it without your help.
If a young couple turns into an old couple and sit gray haired on their front porch surrounded by grandchildren, they'll do it without your help. And you were never helping in the first place.

Old lovers are just young lovers who grew up.
Modern people, no matter what era they live in, seem to forget they aren't the gold standard for normal. After marriage, the next biggest place I see this is college. Leaving home is the traditional, natural, normal way to attend college. I didn't even know staying home was an option until I was sixteen. I thought all the college kids I saw hanging around the neighborhood must be home for the weekend. My parents never explained it to me. So it still baffles me whenever I say "I'm going to BYU in the fall", and the response is, "Oh, are you living down there?"
Note the going part.
This is going.
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This is staying.
I've read years ago about some Indian tribe (Hopis, maybe?) that believes in adding rooms onto existing homes instead of kicking adult children. But besides that, absolutely every culture I've encountered, visited, or read about believes in growing up and moving out. I can't think of a single place or time across the wide expanse of human history where this wasn't the standard. There is no shame in passing a traditional life milestone when your heart says it's time. Let's hear it for Shelby and her soon to be husband Bronson.

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. Genesis 2:24

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