Thursday, 20 October 2011

Maggie Gallagher on the Atlantic Piece

Good response by Maggie Gallagher to the Atlantic "All the Single Ladies" piece.

My one caveat is that many Single women do not choose to be Single and that many women who have been open to marriage, and have lived according to Christian virtues of chastity, do not marry until their forties or later.

Singleness can and should be celebrated for its blessed opportunities, which do not include the opportunity to get it on with a variety of "partners", no matter how much younger.


Anna said...

Ms Gallagher is correct that "loving is better than not loving. Choosing to love and commit to a husband or a child is a much higher ideal than choosing not to; that’s why it needs to be celebrated and idealized."

But is she assuming that young women would rather not get married and have kids in their 20s and 30s? I do not agree with this based on experience. I think most young women, especially Christian young women, would like to settle down with someone who is faithful and good and attractive.

It reminds me of a column by the mormon author Orson Scott Card on getting married:

He says that marriage is what makes a person into an adult and we singles shouldn't worry too much about romance.

Speaking as a Christian, if we believe marriage is for our salvation, should we marry " mr. good enough" or wait for the man that will make us fall head-over-heels in love with him? Should we marry the immature man knowing that we ourselves are immature, too, and hope that marriage will help us to grow into adults?

And shouldn't we be building a society that encourages young people to grow up instead of guilt-tripping them into feeling bad for not getting married once they hit a certain age?

Meredith said...

I feel ambivalent about this piece (and O.S.C.'s piece). I agree that marriage is something that you should be open to as soon as you are capable of it (age may vary), but I don't think that a woman should marry a man she thinks is "boring," or that a man should marry a woman he thinks is "plain." But from reading "All the Single Ladies" and "Marry Him!" and similar essays, I know that it is possible to have an unrealistic number of deal-breakers. This makes me sweat and interrogate myself: would I be unable to love a man who hated Mozart, was shorter than me, didn't like to drink (ever), had an annoying laugh, etc. etc. I don't think of myself as being a picky princess, but how would I know if I was? But people are still finding "the One" and clicking, so I guess it's mostly a matter of *being a person who is capable of marriage.*

healthily sanguine said...

Yeah, I feel your pain, Meredith (and btw, I now, according to Kathleen Gilbert, look JUST like you due to cutting my own bangs the other night--scary but worthwhile experience!!). I occasionally worry that I have too many deal-breakers, especially the more I engage in online dating, because there you can more than ever "shop around," in a sense; still, nothing is that real online. A real situation happened yesterday when a friend who recently got married inquired, basically, whether I'd want to be set up with her brother, whom I'd met and talked with briefly at her wedding. I had to answer no, because I thought his personality was just too different and really, though I didn't tell her this, because I didn't really find him attractive or interesting at all. But I hesitated to do it, because I know he's probably a good man from a good family, and, etc. Sigh. I hope I didn't do the wrong thing, but one can only do one's best in these cases!

JC said...

Re: the O.S.C. article - one should keep in mind that the Mormon and Catholic/Christian ideas of marriage differ on some rather important points. Mormons believe that marriage is eternal and that it qualifies you for a higher place in heaven. So it would seem that Mormons have more pressure and more reason to "settle" than do Catholics, who believe that in heaven marriage will not be such a big deal at all.

Anna said...

If marriage for helping people to become adults (the opposite would be refusing to overcome their feelings and passions), when do you get married? Shouldn't you be at a certain level of maturity in the first place?

Seraphic said...

There are dealbreakers and dealbreakers. My husband can't stand Mozart (as he infinitely prefers Bach) and he is not THAT much taller than me, but he does not have an annoying laugh. Even more important, he makes me laugh all the time and I can make him laugh too.

I absolutely do not believe in getting married for the sake of getting married. We are Catholics; there is a higher calling than marriage for those who can do without marriage. This does not denigrate marriage, but it does undercut the post-Reformation obsession with marriage and the post-Protestant obsession with "sex partners."

theobromophile said...

Catholicism is the only Christian religion that recognises the dignity of the adult [and chaste] Single life. But one of the requirements of that adult Single life is that one be a chaste adult, not a "third date" Single, a contracepting Single, or someone who cohabitates or any of that. It is really the latter which, IMHO, delay adulthood more than anything else.

If you are not play-acting at being Married but eschewing its responsibilities (lifelong commitment and children), and you're over the age of 25, I can almost guarantee you that you aren't being too picky.

As women, we intuitively understand that modern culture allows men to be unreasonable in regards to how they evaluate women for marriage; what we don't often acknowledge is that women are just as susceptible to that temptation.

Wanting to marry a man to whom you are attracted is normal, unless your definition of "attractive" is so limited as to exclude anyone less hot than Daniel Craig. If the thought of sleeping with him and bearing his children makes your stomach crawl (and not just in the "I don't know him, so that would be really icky" way), then do both of yourselves a favour and don't even bother dating the guy. (I've dated men who thought that I was unattractive, too tall, not a catch, etc. and it was HORRIBLE.) Wanting to marry a man whom you find interesting and want to see every day is normal, unless your definition of "interesting" is limited to "earns an absurdly high salary."

Mrs Doyle said...

Theobromophile - you have hit the nail on the head!

I don't want to buy into the popular idea that there aren't enough good men for nice Catholic girls to marry - both sexes (me included) are guilty of buying into the secular idea of married life we see on t.v - the first is the glamourous middle-class image of a couple who rarely argue (maybe even promoted by those old books we read and Christian movies we see);
and the second is the dysfunctional, non-commital, drama filled life frazzled by the continuous interruption of annoying kids.

I know the kind of person I am, and the kind of man who would complement my character and get me to heaven, and I'm more than happy waiting rather than being a serial dater for the heck of it. As long as my laundry list isn't too long or unreasonable, I don't see anything wrong with that!

Any woman who feels she has to marry the nicest man she comes across but who annoys the heck out of her may be too scared to admit that she only wishes to marry because she's scared of living alone or she's caving into expectations put on her by others. Two of the worst reasons ever to get married.

Those of us with happily married parents would do well to listen and learn from their experiences. Ask them why they chose the other, why did they get married, what they find the most difficult etc....