Test-Driving Before Marriage? Think Again

by Anna Priore

The kind of life I want is not one that most people choose these days. I want to be a wife and a stay-at-home mom. I want to have my own farm and my own garden. I want to ride horses and write books. It’s a simple wish for a simple life, but people these days seem to think that being a mother and a wife is throwing away your education and taking the “easy way out.”

But let me go back to one certain July night in Virginia. At the time, I was sixteen and not even interested in a long-term romantic relationship; in fact, all I could think was how unbearably, miserably hot it was at summer camp. Spinning around me were dozens of other young people fully engaged in dancing the Virginia Reel. The man who would be my future husband walked up to me asked me to be his partner for the next song. The music changed to Taylor Swift’s Back to December, and we swirled our way through the evening until the stars came out and the heavy air finally cooled off.

As the week wore on, I noticed that there was something different about Nick. There were qualities in him that captured my heart without my even comprehending it. After that wonderful week of summer camp ended, Nick and I went our separate ways back to our home states. We kept up a somewhat steady correspondence of letter writing and an occasional phone call. Then I started college and became entangled in several draining relationships. My grades suffered. I went to counseling with few results. I spent many Friday nights crying and lonely in the little chapel a few blocks from campus. Sometimes I would hear Back to December on the radio and wonder where Nick was, and think of that horribly hot yet amazingly entertaining week in Virginia so long ago.

After not hearing from Nick for almost a year, I got an email from a man I felt like I hardly knew. His parents had separated, he had been forced to forgo his college education, and they had been evicted from their home. I invited him to visit me in my home state, thinking that he would never take me up on it. He sent me a screenshot of his flight itinerary a few days later and almost gave me a heart attack.

We have been inseparable ever since.

Nick and I are what most people would call “naïve” and “inexperienced.” Neither of us had seriously dated before, and we both intend to maintain a chaste lifestyle before marriage. When I tell this to people (to borrow a quote from the Joker), they lose their minds. You’re too young to be considering marriage! You need to establish a career and make money before settling down! How can you possibly know that you want this man when you’ve never slept with any other men?

I find it amusing how our culture doesn’t think twice about a woman sleeping with a man she’s known for five minutes, but screams bloody murder at a woman who wants to marry a man she’s known for five years. It’s as if we somehow need to have a laundry list of sexual and emotional experiences with other people before settling down with one person for life, otherwise, we’ll be missing out on something. Fling first, then the chains of marriage afterwards.

This mentality is so demeaning to our generation. We are treating human beings like cars, test-driving them and experimenting with one after the other until we find the right “fit.” We have more dignity than this. The human body and soul are not meant to be treated lightly and then cast aside when something more interesting comes up. Furthermore, girls should not be ashamed to be mothers, and men should not be ashamed to be providers. In this age of freedom and choice, we should be able to be whatever we want, but yet we are still screamed at and stomped on for being “backwards” and succumbing to “gender roles.”

The world only loves its own, and we are called to live apart from the world. Everyone these days is encouraged to be “counter-cultural,” unless that threatens the carefully guarded bias our society has built around itself. Nick and I are definitely being counter-cultural by wanting to give our children a mother and a father, and a set of morals. It has been anything but easy, but we must have courage, for Our Savior has conquered the world.

Don’t be afraid of marriage, and don’t be afraid of standing up for what you believe in. In the end, the only thing that matters is what God thinks.

Anna writes at badasscatholic.blogspot.com