The Dow Jones Industrial Average hit a record on Monday, closing above 38,000 for the first time ever. Not to be outdone, the S&P 500 also set a new high. How long it lasts is a question and matter left to financial gurus, many of whom disagree.
Tracking the stock market’s performance provides us with an indication of where the economy is, and maybe even where it’s going. Numbers can’t tell us everything, but they can tell us a lot. One number, though, that Wall Street analysts don’t track (though perhaps they should) is the country’s marriage rate.
That’s because strong marriages make for a strong country, and happy families tend to spend more money.
It was news last fall when it was reported marriage rates had rebounded to pre-pandemic levels.
Any increase is welcome, but the rebound still puts the rate at historic lows. Marriages have declined more than 60% since 1970, a trend that has devastating consequences on everything from the fertility rate to school funding and larger intangibles like attitudes toward sacrifice and service.
When I meet with young people today, I encourage them to buck the trend. Live counterculturally. Get married, stay married, and have children. Lots of them.
There’s no question that getting married is a risky proposition today. Just how risky depends on several factors. We often read that half of all marriages end in divorce. It’s a bit of a misleading statistic. First, that number applies to second and third marriages. Plus, Christians who regularly attend church and who are committed to their faith fare much better
Nevertheless, you’re taking a chance when you get married. The late Dr. Tim Keller famously observed we always marry the wrong person since our spouse is constantly changing. The woman you married at 22 is not really the same lady at 42. Of course, the same can be said of you.
When I married Jean, I thought I knew what I was getting myself into. I had grown up in a dysfunctional home and was determined to break the cycle. My father left us when I was five. I made a commitment to never subject Jean or our boys to that same cruel fate.
Yet, there have been aspects and challenges in our marriage that have pushed us to the edge. Every family brings with them their problems and we’ve been no different.
It’s risky to get married because while you can ostensibly control your own actions, you can’t control your spouse’s behavior. It’s a fool’s errand to try – and even if you succeed, you’ll cultivate a spirit and climate of resentment.
Get married anyway.
It’s risky to give your heart to another person, and open yourself up to scrutiny, critique, and criticism.
Do it anyway.
It’s risky to pick one person from millions and settle down with them, forgoing all other equally intimate relationships.
Do it anyway.
As it turns out, some find it impossible to choose one person, but not choosing is still choosing. As of last year, 25 percent of 40-year-olds had never been married, up from just 6 percent in the 1960s.
Getting married might very well be the riskiest thing you ever do – but not getting married poses even more risks.
Imagine growing old and alone without a spouse by your side. Imagine missing out on the joys and laughter of children and then grandchildren.
The late business guru Peter Drucker once said, “People who don’t take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year. People who do take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year.”
Take a risk. Get married.