A few months ago I had the pleasure of having dinner with some old college friends that I haven’t seen in years…no, let me change that…in decades. They now have kids the age that we were when we last saw each other…and older.
One of the things we discussed is how much the world had changed since we last saw each other. As an example I used one of our doctors, who is the father of a former student of mine. When I asked how his daughter was, he beamed and said that she was doing well…and was living with her boyfriend in Philadelphia. I mentioned how 30 years earlier the father would be grumbling about his daughter living with her boyfriend, rather than beaming.
I thought this was a good change. My friends, however, didn’t. They saw it as “kids these days” wanting to have sex with none of the responsibility. I didn’t want to turn what was an enjoyable time together into a debate, but I quietly vehemently disagreed with them.
I think it is a good change. I think it’s good that, for the most part, our culture has stopped pushing young people into marriage as soon as possible. I think it’s good that we understand that you don’t have to start making babies and taking on a 30 year mortgage at age 25. And I think it’s good that we don’t push people into legal entanglements that will be damned hard to extricate themselves from just so that they can have sex without people giving them the hairy eyeball.
And speaking of legal entanglements, I know of a couple who decided it was best to wait to “make things official” until he got his precarious credit situation all straightened out. They figured there was no sense in making that her official problem too.
But let’s go back to that whole idea of “avoiding the responsibility.” Really, just what does that mean? There are couples who get married and put off having children for years…or decide to not have children at all. There are also couples who don’t get married, stay together for years, and do an excellent job raising kids. And…there are couples who live together until the baby’s on the way, then then decide to get married…and there’s actually a lot of historical precedent for that…which we have conveniently forgotten about.
Now I know that some of you will bring up religious objections to this, and I’ll deal with that. Quite frankly, those who have “religious objections” to couples living together without being married, have objections based on a culture and time when things were much different…where the community was more important than the person, and where a woman’s “value” was based on whether or not she’d had sex with anyone before. And believe me, I am so glad that those days are gone!
Now, having said all that, I can think of some pretty good reasons to bite the bullet and get married. Quite frankly, I think that after you’ve had five years of living together, you really ought to “shit or get off the pot.” And as much as I cautioned against legal entanglements that are hard to extricate yourself from, there are actually some pretty good legal protections marriage gets you for $40 (the cost of the license, not the fancy schmancy wedding) that you’d have to pay thousands of dollars in legal fees for otherwise.
And of course, by this point, some of you are asking how I’d react if one of my daughters decided to move in with her boyfriend. Well, quite frankly, if he was a decent guy…and could put up with either one of their personalities…I’d be thrilled that they’d found someone.
I’d even help them move!