Dear Dating Coach,
I am the youngest of ten siblings (nine are married) and my parents want me to start dating. I have been helping my married siblings with their children and families forever, and I am not interested in getting married. It’s so much work and effort! I would like a husband and a family eventually, but can’t I wait a few years first? My parents tell me I am being ridiculous and short-sighted, but I know that my mind is clear. I’d like some time to myself first as an adult and then I will be happy to consider marriage. Help me convince them that I am right!
(Not) Marriage Minded
We are not an outdoorsy family. Sure, we appreciate nature and all it has to offer, but then we remember the bugs, the gear, and all that mud – and we focus on how much we love air conditioning and indoor plumbing. So, I am often impressed by the fondness that my father attaches to a ten-week camping trip that he took as a young single with one of his brothers. Ten weeks of unpacking all that gear, setting up a tent, building a fire, and cooking meals over an open flame. Ten weeks of breaking down the campsite every morning, their skin covered with the soot of the campfire, and ants doing their best to invade breakfast. I think of the effort of covering their fire pit safely, rolling up sleeping bags covered in dew, and hiking all that gear to their next location. My father must remember the work their trip entailed – but when he recounts his camping adventure, he only mentions watching the perfect sunrise, the scent of roasted marshmallows, and the joy experienced by the tug of a fishing line.
Congratulations on adulthood! In some ways you may have been pushed toward responsibility at a young age, with the opportunity to help your older siblings with their growing families. Now, as you officially enter adulthood, you worry that marriage equals a level of obligation and duty that you don’t want. You see the effort that your older siblings must expend in order to grow their families and you want to reject all the obligation that brings. You see dishes washed only to have sinks refill with dirty plates, and laundry that gets folded and then dirtied again. You see children who cry and fight, and parents who worry over bills that need to be paid. You see exhaustion and stress, and so you believe that deferring this responsibility seems prudent.
I Drink Wine…
Marriage if we are blessed, offers family and growth. Marriage, if we are lucky, allows us to include children into our lives. It also brings tremendous effort and a constant level of accountability. Raising a family is the ultimate opportunity, and the ultimate responsibility. You are so gracious to have helped your siblings with your love of their children, endless babysitting, and tiding up. You have been given a glimpse into family life, but you neglect to account for the fact that it wasn’t your family. Your nieces and nephews are not your children, and their spouses and relationships are not yours.
On the Patio.
It is impossible to understand the all-encompassing, overwhelming, piercing love and joy that children and family offer before you are blessed with your own. That love steals your breath, causes your heart to pump with new purpose, and makes you feel like you will burst with happiness. Your own family certainly requires work – but it also highlights perfect moments so powerful and strong that the effort suddenly makes perfect sense. We don’t know what life will bring – a first time shidduch that you may click beautifully with, or years of dating until you find your right match. To delay that process, and to deny yourself the opportunity of building your own family, is to rob yourself of that perfect, heart-stopping sunrise.