Does marriage suddenly turn someone into an adult? The logical answer seems to be no. However, in the culture of the church it seems that there is some type of completion check list that leads married couples to adulthood sooner. The very title of a YSA is a young single ADULT, so why do we look down upon singles as unable to make big kid decisions, or act as though they have far less experience.
The case in point, my 19-year-old friend just got married a few weeks ago. Do you really think she knows more about the world than a 26-year-old returned missionary? Maybe she knows more about specific things, but I would venture to say that in many ways, my own life experiences may have taught me more about other subjects. My point is not that YSAs are smarter or more experienced, simply that they are equally as capable as married folk.
It is a universal truth that people live up to the expectations that others have for them. President Monson reminds us, “We must develop the capacity to see men not as they are at present but as they may become.” If you are disapproving of the life decisions of a single adult, perhaps the first step is to recognize that you are treating them as less than they really are. Perhaps the very fact that you think they aren’t trying causes them to try less.
It seems important to stop and look at why people are actually getting married at all. There are some really good reasons and some really bad ones. In my opinion the act of not marrying for the wrong reasons actually shows some level of maturity and adulthood that perhaps rushing into this decision and marrying young alludes. Do you think it is possible that some people aren’t getting married young because they understand the importance of actually making such a commitment? Could it be that single adults are not avoiding marriage, but that some of them are carefully planning and considering the results of their choices? Isn’t planning and committing adult-like behavior?
Many opportunities come up for single adults to leave the realm of single. However, just as was mentioned previously, while choosing to stay single can be challenging, it can also prevent more heartbreak in the future. I would submit that getting married simply to avoid being lonely, or because it’s what you are “supposed to do” is not enough. Could I be married right now? Sure, if I chose not to marry in the temple, or if I chose to be unhappy for eternity knowing that I had married the wrong person.
On the other hand, one should not avoid marriage either. Gordon B. Hinckley counseled, “Marry the right person in the right place at the right time.” When you have the right person, the right place, and the right time, marriage should be your utmost priority. However, until the time that all of these things happen at once, I will play the devil’s advocate and suggest that being single is better than being married.
Single adults make other big decisions too. Where should I live? What career should I invest in? How much education is appropriate for me? How should I manage my finances? What role does God play in my life? How can I help others today? What am I willing to sacrifice now so that I can have something better later? How do I purchase insurance? Should I buy a car? It seems the choices are endless. Don’t these sound like adult decisions? Aren’t they similar to the challenges married people face? The only difference is, single adults have to learn to make them on their own. (Good thing that you can learn how God communicates with you and have His help in making choices!)
Now let us be clear, age isn’t really the main point. The problem that seems to be occurring is that people haven’t developed themselves as individuals before they enter a relationship. Knowing who you are as an individual is a sign of maturity and leads to adult-like behavior. The truth is, for some people marrying young is perfectly acceptable. Timing is key to success in any relationship, especially in forming a marriage or family relationship. Many desire getting married right now. That doesn’t mean it is the right decision. Dallin H. Oaks reminds us, “In all important decisions in our lives, what is most important is to do the right thing. Second, and only slightly behind the first, is to do the right thing at the right time.” My challenge is to one and all- stop judging singles as less-then complete adults. Singles, let’s step up and act like adults. Everyone, let’s remember to do the right thing at the right time.
Ashley Dewey is extremely talented at being single. Hobbies include awkward conversations with members of the opposite sex, repelling third dates, talking to boys about their girl problems and to girls about their boy problems. In her spare time she also has a very fulfilling school life, work life, and social life. Besides being a professional single, Ashley is also a BYU graduate with a degree in linguistics (Aka word nerd). She enjoys studying other languages, particularly American Sign Language, and finds most all of them fascinating. She is currently pursuing a masters degree in Teaching English as a Second Language. Ashley works most of the time and has often been accused of being a workaholic. Currently she works full time as a merchandiser and supervisor in a retail store, and part time doing social media work. On her day off she works (really it doesn't feel like work) in the Provo LDS temple. The only kind of work she finds difficulty focusing on is house work. Her favorite activities in her free time are reading, writing, creating social experiments, and spending time with great friends and family. Specific activities with those family and friends include: going to concerts, plays, dance recitals, BYU basketball and football games, and watching sports on television.