It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a second-semester ORU senior, must be in want of a good wife. Most of us have heard the term “ring by spring” before, but for those fortunate enough to have not, “ring by spring” is a phrase cultivated to imply the engagement expected of seniors attending Christian universities.
If you’re in a healthy relationship where both partners are equally finding growth and an overall increased quality of life, there is no shame in that ring. Never let anyone tell you that you’re “too young” to know it’s right when it’s right. This being said, there is shame in pressuring everyone else to enter into the paradigm.
As millennials, most of everything we’ve done has been out of obligation. We go to elementary school, middle school, high school and then college because that’s just what we’re “supposed” to do. But somewhere along the way Christians added marriage to the list as if it were as casual and temporary as committing to a four-year university. The danger with the normalization of this phrase and its meaning is that it can cause people to believe that just like everything else, it’s what is required to take the next step into their life. But to be completely honest, getting married out of obligation should have died with hoop skirts and corsets in the 1800s.
Promoting marriage during or right out of college can lead to an abundance of unnecessary problems, especially financial ones. While some may find that college has presented them with the right timing and person for them to marry, most people do not fall under this same plan. However, the pressure to get married is so ever-present in the college atmosphere that premature marriage often occurs–hence, the 40-50% divorce rate reported by the American Psychological Association.
Furthermore, not everyone wants to get married. The pressure of obtaining a “ring by spring” can wrongly create judgment toward these people and promote the idea that they will never fully be accepted or successful until being married. We’ve all heard it before: marriage is about compromise. Those who know that they are not yet willing to make sacrifices in any part of their career or life should not get married. And that’s perfectly okay. We should support people being open and honest with what they truly value in this stage of life.
College is all about focusing on yourself and building a career to impact others, so why are we worrying so much about finding a life-long spouse when most of us haven’t even decided on a life-long career? In a Ted Talk, author Tracy McMillan explains that the person you really need to marry before anyone else is yourself.
So instead of worrying about finding a ring by spring, marry yourself, love your independence, exercise your strengths, find comfort in your beliefs and spirituality, build financial stability and stop pressuring people to find “The One.” Being comfortable within yourself sets the entire foundation for either happily sharing your life with another person or having an equally fulfilling life as a single individual.