Anyone single and of marrying age, naturally wonders if they ought to get married. But should you get married, if you are not ready to start a family?
To get a glimpse of how far our societal values have shifted, having children upon getting married is no longer a given. Instead, the norm for the majority of folks is to delay indefinitely, if not altogether forego, childrearing.
A couple generations ago, anyone entering marriage had the expectation that raising children would soon follow. This is only natural, as it is what nature (and God) intends. But now in the 21st Century, most couples in America getting married have no intention of having children right away.
The old nursery rhyme was “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage.”
What would be the modern-day replacement? “First comes sex, but no babies. Someday marriage? Maybe.”
The growing trend now is to have childless marriages. Is there anything wrong with purposely delaying having children? Is there a problem with getting married without being ready to start a family?
Yes, there is plenty wrong with that mindset. Setting aside the grave immorality of the birth control methods couples use to delay having children, let us take seriously Fr. Burke’s observations about what parenthood offers young couples and the affects it has on those who refuse to partake in it.
“If two young people in love don’t want to start a family, they would be wise not to try to start a marriage. It’s too likely to fail,” claims author Fr. Cormac Burke, in his book, Covenanted Happiness: Love and Commitment in Marriage.
“The moment when a couple is best prepared for starting a family is the moment when they have just got married.”
He asserts that the romance newly-married people experience will assist them to “readily and cheerfully” make sacrifices that children demand of their parents. Having this shared sacrifice of raising the next generation naturally forms a bond between the new parents. Parenting also helps the parents to grow in virtue, as they become selfless, instead of selfish. This maturing of individuals within marriage comes more rapidly, generally speaking, to those who have children soon after tying the knot.
Those not ready to start a family miss out on this personal growth opportunity. If they delay having children for too long, then the romance they once felt will be much more likely to have faded away. Introducing children into the equation could prove to be too much for couples who have not matured in virtue, the priest contends.
Instead, the culture has convinced multiple generations in a row now that limited family size is best for all involved. It is supposed to lead to more personal happiness for all couples, too. After all, with few or zero kids around, couples can more easily afford fancier vehicles, a bigger house, more technological gadgets, more vacations, and so forth.
But does it? Does getting married without being ready to start a family lead to personal happiness and fulfillment?
Fr. Burke challenges this presumption, and this is a fitting close to this article: “Those young couples who are tempted to bend to trust the demographers or the politicians or the sociologists, rather than nature; those who are tempted to bend to social pressures or to the simple desire for an easy life rather than heed their instincts of paternity, would do well to ask themselves if they really believe—on the evidence—that modern family planning seems to be making for happier marriages, or whether the plan of nature is not more farseeing and more likely to provide the support for a strong and lasting married life and married love.”
Do you agree with Fr. Burke’s assertions about the benefits to parenthood?
Are you onboard with challenging young couples not ready to start a family to not get married?
You’re welcome to leave a comment below.