Stop telling your children to get married

Most teens can’t even stick to a hair colour, let alone a life partner.

I was recently speaking to an old friend of mine who has a daughter in her late teens. She told me she was worried about her because she had had two ‘serious’ boyfriends but hadn’t remained with either of them. She also stated that she worried her daughter was too picky and would end up alone. I was so taken aback that I stayed silent and opened and closed my mouth like a fish for a few seconds before pointing out that most people in their teens can’t even stick to a hair colour, let alone a life partner.

The problem is that her way of thinking isn’t the exception; on this blessed island, it seems to be the rule. The formula has remained a pretty simple one for decades: girl meets boy, girl and boy stay together because neither knows any better or has any experience, they get married, have two children in quick succession and eventually an unplanned third, and well, that’s it. When people could still be shamed into staying in bad relationships, and women hardly left the house, no one would be any the wiser of the hell many people were forced to live in. The issue is that even now that that ugliness has started to come to light, society is still fostering an environment where people feel subconsciously pressured into getting into relationships young and staying in them no matter what the cost.

I honestly don’t get it. I look back at some of the men I thought were a good idea in my teens, and I’m almost shocked my parents didn’t try to lock me inside. To be fair, they did try that once, but I was a tenacious teenager and still managed to find a way around things. Eventually, they figured out that it would be best to let things run their course, and of course, they did (probably much sooner than they expected them to, too).

Instead of telling young people whose brains haven’t even formed properly yet to get into relationships and make them work, we should be giving them the tools to become more self-aware and understand themselves better so that when a potential partner does come around, they’re able to discern if they would be a good fit for them or not. Contrary to what the older generations think, people in their thirties aren’t leaving their marriages because they don’t want commitment; it’s because they don’t want to feel like they’re wasting their lives committed to the wrong person.

We need to change our culture’s narrative if we are ever to have a society of healthy individuals. Instead of worrying that no one will like our young enough to marry them, perhaps we should be more worried that they don’t seem to like themselves enough to ask for more.

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