An Open Letter from Young Adults to Married Couples

We need to know that it's worth it.

By Allegra Thatcher Published on August 29, 2018

Dear married couples,

The world tells us marriage doesn’t work. People like me in our twenties see marriages that seem to prove it. Even as a Christian, I have found myself thinking negatively about being committed to someone for life.

Is marriage worth it? Will we find joy and fulfillment in it? Or will we end up disillusioned and alone?

Prove the Culture Wrong

What do we desire, as Christian young adults? I think I can speak for most twenty-something Christian young adults when I say we want community and adventure, enriched to the full by marriage.

In the single life, community is everything because we’re used to spending quality time with friends. The ultimate friendship, we are told, is marriage, because it unites two people in the most intimate way on earth. We hope that this marriage would bring us into deeper friendship — not only with our spouse, but with our friends as well.

But if that union comes at the expense of quality time for other friendships, young adults question its desirability. Those of us with parents often find our parents so caught up in work and the lives of their children that they don’t foster their own friendships and social life. Yes, having a family involves personal sacrifice. But sacrificing one’s own friendships?

That’s not very appealing to young adults who want to continue growing. Up to this point, we’ve had a community to challenge and build us up in holiness. We want to know we can grow even holier in the married life than the single life.

Marriage as Adventure?

Our other desire for thriving is through our joy in adventure. While many people think marriage limits their chances to have “mountain-top adventures,” that isn’t the real issue here.

We probably all agree that the real adventures of life are found in the small and unexpected moments. Opportunities arise when you lock your keys in the car or you get caught in a flash flood. It’s wonderful to think of enjoying such moments as adventures with another person for life.

However, this isn’t what we see in you. When many couples I see encounter an inconvenience, you complain about it. Is this because you haven’t experienced things like this before? Definitely not. I think you have forgotten the joy of making an inconvenience an adventure. Is that only for the young?

The truth is this: We worry that when we get older, our marriages will suck the joy of life away from us. When we see you come home from work, tired and just ready to rest, we question what kind of life a parent gets and if we want that. We fear disappointment in marriage, and so-so marriages only confirm this.

Joy in the Challenge

So thank you to those of you who have stayed married. Thank you for choosing to stand out in an age where divorce has become the normal. You give us hope in the sacred nature of this sacrament. But just staying married isn’t enough to convince my generation that marriage is something desirable, beautiful and fulfilling. 

Honestly, we don’t want you to stay together because of your children. Or because the Church tells you divorce is immoral. Or because it’s better for the community.

We want you to stay together because you have found supernatural joy in your life in Christ together. We ask you to show us that marriage isn’t disappointing. And we want living proof that couples can lead each other on the grand adventure of life to heaven, made grander by the commitment to a spouse.

Show us how marriage will make us thrive, with joy in the struggle. Show us a true community. Show us two people living an adventure.  That’s how to make us want to be married.

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  • Nick Stuart

    Where to begin?

    Sweetheart, you need to grow up a little bit. Why don’t you get back to us in maybe 15-20 years when you get some life experience under your belt.

  • Charles Burge

    You seem to be coming from a position of entitlement and self-indulgence. Marriage is about giving yourself to another person. I think the “what’s in it for me” attitude is exactly why so many marriages fail.

    • The Bible says that the two are to become one flesh. It isn’t always easy, but I have always tried to put my wife’s happiness above my own. She has returned the favor and guess what? We are both even happier as a result. We have stood by and up for each other through thick and thin for nearly 43 years – the best years of our lives.

      We have a new challenge. My wife has just been diagnosed with cancer. Would you like to face that alone or with someone who cares less about you than about themselves? You get out of marriage that which you put into it. My wife means everything to me and more, and I will do anything and everything for her. And I will take joy in doing so. I know she will do the same for me. I am afraid that unless you go though some attitude adjustment, you will completely miss the whole point of marriage.

      And while my wife is getting and will continue to get support from me and all our (five) kids, we are also getting a huge amount of support from our church and church friends. Don’t neglect the value of community. My wife and I went down for her first chemo yesterday. 60 miles away. We did not have to go alone. And the prayers of many more were with us. I cannot imagine dealing with something like this alone. Don’t ever think there is a benefit to going through life always looking out for number one because those who should be closest to you will learn to do the same.

      • Ken Abbott

        Prayers for Mrs. Topcat69 and the rest of the clan, sir.

  • #neverdemocrats

    Allegra are you a Christian? Then obey almighty God. If you honor your commitment in marriage the Lord well bless you.

  • Chris in NC

    Let me see. You seem to have other people’s marriages pretty well figured out and a set of great expectations for your own.
    Do yourself a favor and stay single.
    When my wife and I got married we had one true expectation. We were married. The rest of it would work itself out through plan and surprise. A lot of both.
    Life isn’t always a grand adventure – although we have had our share, both good and bad – sometimes it is just one day after another with all the little ‘adventures’ that plain ol’ life entails.
    And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
    Today is our 42nd anniversary. I took my wife to the doctor. We stopped on the way home and got her favorite cheeseburgers from Wards Grill. Went home and shared them with the dogs.
    we’re going to eat a watermelon this afternoon. Probably won’t see or hear from anybody. Just another day. No great event or adventure.
    I hope we have 42 more.
    Have I seen other people’s marriages fail? sure. A few months all the way to 48 years. It has no relation to mine. My marriage is incumbent on me. The more I put into it the more it grows.
    What makes a successful marriage? I don’t know. It ain’t just 42 years together. It isn’t living a string of adventures or doing things with friends away from your spouse.
    Could it be living your lives open and honest before God and the world. It hasn’t always been easy. But it has been the adventure of a lifetime.

    • Bryan

      Happy Anniversary!! Thank you for your witness!

  • Bryan

    Are we older, married Christians honoring God by just getting by in our marriages? Our we honoring God by “staying together for the children”?
    @disqus_ZZYOliQRNr:disqus , @charlesburge:disqus , @neverdemocrats:disqus: I get exactly where you’re coming from because the same thoughts of entitled brat (that’s a paraphrase) came to my mind as well. But then I thought for a minute: I’m struggling in my marriage right now. We have kids and hard times because of the current season we’re in and because of mistakes we’ve made together and separately. If I were observing my marriage from the outside, would I see the marriage as honoring God? Probably not. Are we working on things individually and together? Yes. Is that honoring to God? I hope so. Could things always be better? Of course. I’m not saying that Christians should expect perfect marriages. Sometimes, the hard times are because the devil is attacking what would ruin his plans.
    Yet, many Christian and “Christian” marriages do look like what she describes. It’s easy to cherry pick from the fence on all the bad things about other people marriages. If one is single, it’s easy to only look at the bad and miss all the good. It’s also easy to miss good friends because they are spending more time with their spouse. It’s great when good friend get married and are able to spend time with their unmarried friends. It’s also great to make new friends with other couples who encourage and help you grow closer as a couple.
    I believe she has a point. It’s not expressed particularly effectively to those on the married side but that doesn’t make her point less valid. I believe her point is the question: Why, in real terms (not spiritual sounding, Christian-ese) is marriage worth it? If we see “Christians” divorcing at the same rate of non-Christians (and yes I know there’s a difference between the true Christians and “Christians”), many Christian couples who complain about marriage, kids, spouse, etc., why not just serve God as a single person? What makes marriage worth it?

    • #neverdemocrats

      This is the standard :”I, ___, take thee, ___, to be my wedded
      husband/wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better,
      for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love
      and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy
      ordinance; and thereto I pledge thee my faith [or] pledge myself to

    • Nick Stuart

      Sounds like you’re in a rough patch. Hang in there Bryan, you’ll be glad you did.

  • Dave

    This is a sick attitude. This person wants so much for herself. I want joy, fulfillment, enriched community and adventure, but not at the expense of quality time for other friendships. Marriage isn’t about … Wait. Stop there. Life itself isn’t about how much fulfilment and joy you can obtain for yourself. The Bible says to do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit but rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

    Instead of considering the life paths that will benefit you the most, why not consider what you can do to make other people experience joy, fulfilment and enriched community and adventure. Start with a friend. What can I do to make my friend, Gertrude, happy today? Maybe I can send her some flowers. Or send a text asking her to come over and play mahjong, her favorite game, on Saturday night.

    Marriage is the same way. Every day, every action, every decision should be made not considering your own selfish ambition but what will make my husband, Eugene, happy or what would build him up and make him a better man of God. The arrangement works even better when your spouse has the same mindset.

    As it stands right now though, you’re not ready for marriage. If you go into a marriage thinking the way you are now, you’ll be disappointed, and both you and your spouse will end up miserable.

  • Athena771

    I will put my 2 cents in , being married 21 years. I think it really depends on each couple, the temperements, inclinations and level of commitment to the marriage.

    I really cannot answer this person’s question because their are too many variables that come into a marriage that determine whether a marriage is succesful or not.

    I will say that being married in this day and age is a great challenge in my opinion then times before due to the desire for “fulfillment” that many consider a right. Their are too many challenges to marriage in these days and is not for the “faint of heart” i will say that.

    Marriage most assuredly is not going to fulfill your EVERY desire, i can attest that by experience.

    so bottom line, cannot really answer your questions and concerns because marriage is something you just have either take the plunge or not.

  • Ray

    One man I know said he highly recommended marriage. He said it’s a lot of fun. My 2 cents: Always be good company.

  • Alex Turner

    My wife and I have only been married for 8 years. We’ve lost people we’ve loved and had a lot of blessings too. A man I respect asked me the same question about a week ago while we were sitting at a fire. “Is marriage worth it?” I definitely believe it is, but I’ve been thinking about the best way to answer the question…rather than just vomiting up my first thoughts. Thanks for asking the question!

  • NellieIrene

    I’m speaking as a contented unmarried woman. I knew I would not find fulfillment in marriage and it was through my relationship with God that I recognized this fact. And I knew this at a very young age. Not everyone is given the gift of marriage. We are not all suited to that life. I really don’t think anyone should gauge whether they should marry or not based on other couples marriages because there are pluses and minuses to both the single life and the married life. But rather we should base it on what God determines is best for us individually. He knows us better than we know ourselves. Bring everything to God in prayer. Including whether you are to marry or not.

  • Richard J. Brzeczek

    “So-so” marriages are artificial, uncommitted relationships between “so-so” people. Look at yourself first and take responsibility for your choices.

  • Matt

    The social life and community seem so important before marriage and family, but for many people those attachments take a backseat as they establish their own families. Its a healthy part of growing up. A young 20-something can scarcely imagine such a thing, but it’s true.

    Be open to marriage and family growing you in ways that you never would have expected, and have some humility in recognizing that adults older than yourself sometimes have good reasons for the way we do things.

  • It is worth it. Don’t be discouraged by the averages or the average marriage or your general impression.
    There is so much I want to say about my 24 years of marriage or my parents’ 55 years, but I don’t type that fast. A phone call would be so much more fruitful. PM me via @pchem4all

  • Constitution Cat

    Dear Allegra

    I started out to try to explain to you what marriage means
    to those of us who have achieved a long, lasting marriage but in re-reading
    your appeal I realized that, although you call yourself a Christian, you are so
    abysmally ignorant of what it means to be a Christian and you will probably be
    unable to understand what I might write. A Christian marriage is an image of
    the relationship between Christ and His bride the Church. Until you can
    understand that you will never be able to understand the deep and abiding
    relationship between a man and woman in marriage.

    a marriage, even between committed Christians, is hard work. My husband and I
    agreed that our both our greatest joys and our deepest sorrows came through and
    with each other. A sacramental Christian
    marriage requires the couple to pledge themselves to each other totally, “in
    sickness and in health, until death do us part.” Churches which allow divorce
    have already admitted that marriage need not be forever and allow couples hedge
    their bets from the beginning. Marriage works, but for the people who
    engage it as an experiment it is unlikely to be lasting, Marriage is not about
    getting, it’s about giving.

    We may not know what the future will bring but we do know to
    the marrow of our bones what an oath is. If you are not capable of pledging an
    enduring oath please do not get married.

    Our society has
    reduced the marital embrace to the mere giving and taking of pleasure. This
    contemporary view of the sexual relationship between a man and a woman is a travesty
    and makes a mockery of the relationship of Christ and His Church. Pleasure is fleeting,
    true intimacy is enduring.


    You say that
    to you and your contemporaries’ community is everything. And I say back to you
    that if you do not like yourself and your own company enough to be alone you
    are not a fully mature person.

    I will offer you some advice. You need to learn what it really means to be a
    Christian. You need to study the relationship between Christ and His Church.
    You need to learn the true meaning of friendship and community as your current
    ideas are superficial. You need to learn the deep, redeeming meaning of
    sacrifice and suffering and the true meaning of what it is to love your
    neighbor as yourself. When you have at least some understanding of these things
    you may be ready to consider marriage. I repeat, marriage works but the people who
    engage it as an experiment are unlikely to attain a successful, enduring

  • Grace

    Oh, Allegra, the “community” is as hollow as a chocolate Easter Bunny. Sacramental marriage is solid. The first miracle Jesus performed was at a wedding feast. Christ’s presence there is affirmation of the value and status of marriage. The “community” is simply a loose coalition of people whose members likely come and go. It cannot compare to the bonds created in a sacramental marriage nor can it ever bring you the fulfillment and true joy you seek.
    Our daughters once complained that my husband and I set the bar so high with the example of our marriage that they could never hope to achieve the same. My question to them was “why would you settle for anything less?”
    In marriage, you become part of something much greater than yourself; you are magnified, not diminished. Until you realize that, don’t get married.
    (Our daughters and their husbands just celebrated 20 and 21 years of marriage this summer. Now they have families of their own and realize that their mother is brilliant!) My wonderful husband and I have been married 44 years… although he still introduces me as his “first wife”. 😉

  • James

    If those are your expectations for marriage, then it’s not worth it. Marriage is not for everyone and there is nothing wrong with being single. Paul liked the single life himself.

    You get married because you have found someone that you can’t not be married to. Someone you want to have a family with, because once you have children with someone they will be a part of your life forever, like it or not. If you go looking for personal fulfillment in marriage, you won’t find it.

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