This is the final part of the commentary on the article by Mitchell on why religious millenials aren’t getting married.
I sat down with a friend of mine on Tuesday to redo my budget (since I’ve never exactly had a fully-detailed one with everything accounted for…you know, that should be an entry in its own right, come to think of it), setting aside funds for emergencies, a future kilt, car repairs, and tithing. She asked how much per month I wanted to set aside for dating. “I don’t want to date anymore.” I replied.
“What? You go on dates all the time!” she replied. “You go on more dates than any single man I know. You need to budget for it!”
“Yeah, but they don’t go anywhere,” I replied. “I’m tired of it. No dating, at least for this month.” And so it went off the budget. (The extra money is going towards car repairs, since driving up and over the mountain during Holy Week did prove to be murder on my car Also, i’ve shortened this retelling of the conversation for brevity–there was more to it, but the gist is what’s important here).
Dating for the sake of dating has lost my interest. It’s not fun when you know the ending is going to be the same as the last time. But the fact of the matter is that it’s a part of my life that is not bearing any healthy fruit, and so, like bad shoots on a grapevine, I’m pruning it out of my life so that my life may be more fruitful in other places. Mind you, should the right person appear, or i discover that someone was a right person all along, I’ll definately start courting/dating them. You can’t just shut yourself entirely, but you can definately limit yourself.
In the rest of modern American society, with it’s largely “I am the ruler of my own domain” mindset, singleness can be glorified above all other forms. Marriage, in that ideology, can be indentified as the “ball-and-chain,” an enslavement to “the man” (or to some, the “patriarchy.”) It’s not something to achieve as a fulfilling part of your spiritual life. It’s simply just…something you do when you’re with someone you care for and been with them for long enough, and then when you find it’s not your thing, you cast it aside like switching to a new phone, without trying to trouble-shoot and figure out how to make the marriage work first. (or so it largely seems. I know it’s far more complicated than that, and a lot of people do actively try to make it work, but the ideology is decidedly different)
In the Orthodox mindset, Marriage is super-different. Marriage is a mutual martyrdom that enables us to attempt to work together for mutual salvation. We are judged by the parish Yiayas for being single. We think that something is wrong with us for being single. (The fact of the matter is that nothing is wrong with us, but it doesn’t prevent the salmon of doubt from swimming into your brain.) And, truly, singleness is a blessed state as well; but the problem is that we have trouble seeing that it is. Our culture teaches us that we must get married and raise babies sooner or later, and sooner is better, because it can keep our own desires in check.
There are times, though when we should be choosing to be single, rather than actively seeking romance, and these are important things to consider. Being able to be alone with yourself is not a bad thing. Being single for the right reasons can be very rewarding, and super fruitful for your spirtual, mental, and physical health. Being single affords me more chances, and more opportunity to make my faith stronger, and my life more fruitful, and other aspects which, in the end, may well make me more attractive to an Orthodox partner.
(Or they might make me an excellent hermit. At the very worst, I’ll only be learning how to keep a budget, and hold myself accountable to it: which isn’t so bad at all.)
Don’t choose to be single because you want to have more money to spend on other things. If you’re choosing to be single, choose to do so because you need to grow into yourself, or you have some work to do with yourself, or because there’s no good options availible. (But the fact is, most of us don’t want to be single. We find ourselves that way. We want to marry and have families and work together for our salvation [and I guess, have sex too], and in that aspect, Mitchell is wrong, at least for us Orthodox folks. Many of us are choosing not to be single because it’s “cool” or “hip”, but because the other option may mean settling—and simply settling on this issue for a lot of us is something we’re simply not comfortable with, especially since we’re going to be working with this person on our mutual salvation.)
The key here is to make use of the time we spend being single for our advantage, instead of moping around desperately trying to find someone to fill in the gap.