There is a saying here at Oklahoma Christian University which, especially to a transfer student such as myself, kind of throws those not familiar with our school for a loop: the concept of a “ring by spring.” The term is used to describe the high amount of marriages and engagements which happen while you attend Oklahoma Christian, something many students have become accustomed to.
However, what do we say to those single students who constantly are under the pressure to enter relationships and turn them into marriages as soon as possible? What should we tell to those who see all of their friends in these happy, “fairy tale” relationships?
The answer is not as simple as everyone makes it out to be. There are many factors which could be playing out, and it may be as simple as a common case of groupthink. Being new to an environment and then coming in and seeing what seems to be a social norm, it can be very sensible to follow in the trend and maybe even look to become the first out of your friends to achieve the accomplishment of being engaged.
For those who are unsure and feel like they only want to catch up with their friends, know an article written by psychologytoday.com gives some realistic statistics.
“Divorce is 50% less likely for someone who is 25 years old when they wed, as compared to someone who gets married at age 20,” the article states.
Marriage may sound like a great idea to someone finally on their own, as it gives them the benefit of having a confidant, life partner and an extra means of income. However, the article also states there is a recommended period for people to get married.
“Getting married after your mid-30s is actually riskier than getting married in your late 20s—and that the best age at which to get married appears to be between 28 and 32,” the article says. “Before that age range, divorce rates are still decreasing; after that window, they begin to climb again.”
Could it possibly be that on a smaller campus such as Oklahoma Christian, it is very easy to find someone due to proximity alone? The fact you see the person more than your average out-of-college dating scene would allow for emotions to develop faster and maybe even be rushed as you seek to find companionship.
A second article, also written by Psychology Today, explains research has been going into this for longer than we have even been alive.
“For more than fifty years, relationship researchers have consistently found one of the most powerful predictors of attraction is proximity (physical distance),” the article states.
Another possibility is college is very isolating, and being away from the comfort of your parents’ home can cause one to feel as though they need someone to fill a void of emptiness.
The answer may be quite simple, though, and the aforementioned articles support this theory: If you are not 100% in it, then an early marriage is almost doomed. Marrying early should not be a college’s trademark but should only be done if it is the right time to avoid the unnecessary heartache and grief of a divorce.
We are creatures of God that He made in His image, according to Genesis 1:27. And, even if this is not your particular belief, then realize everyone is beautiful to someone, and there is no shame in waiting for someone who sees the beauty in you, both inside and out, instead of rushing and making your marriage statistically more likely to fail.
This article is for those who need to hear there is nothing wrong with being alone. The aching desire to find a spouse is not something you should feel peer pressured into having. I think a lot of people, possibly including myself, find it hard to see something in them to love. We see ourselves as something people may not necessarily want, so we seek that validation from others.
If you feel like your life is not complete because you are not married or engaged like your friends, a quote from my mother comes to mind.
“In order to love someone else to your fullest potential, you have to have a clear understanding of who you are and a full love of yourself and Jesus. Without that, you’re searching to fill a bottomless hole.”