Two things which on the surface may seem unrelated have intersected in my life lately. First, I'm reading a book called Family Vocation, by Gene Edward Veith. I really enjoy his books. This book expands his earlier work on vocation, found in God at Work (another good book), and applies it to the family. This has caused me to ponder issues of family over the past number of weeks as I have read. I thought about it more yesterday, after receiving the news that someone in my family has filed for divorce from her husband. They have been married for 17 years. I'm saddened for her. It's not what she expected would happen. I think about another situation I know of, where the couple was married less than five years when the divorce happened. Five years doesn't seem very long to just pack it in.
The other seemingly unrelated thing which has crossed my radar has been a frequent occurence of late, and that is the sound of my 17 year old son complaining about the speed of our internet service. Now, we have cable high speed internet service here, and I never have any issues. However, I don't download the amount of junk to my computer that he does, nor do I glut the bandwidth playing video games. Another sound I also hear is the complaint of (again) my son who has issues with how fast his text messages are received and read. I have been the "victim" of his impatience. I don't carry my phone with me all the time when I am home. It's usually on my desk, and I have it set to be silent most of the time. My son will often send me a message during his lunch hour, and if I don't respond right away, he'll get a little agitated. If I don't answer, it's usually because I'm unavailable, not because I'm ignoring him. But he, like all of the kids his age these days, he's impatient.
Instant communication; instant online purchasing; instant music downloading; instant occasions for self-gratification; these kids live in a world where waiting time is not a factor. They want things to happen now. Their world of Twitter and Facebook can also create instant conflict, as they shoot off their mouths and create conflict which is also instantly resolved when they instantly "de-friend" or "unfollow" someone. And of course, it's easy to do that to a friend when you don't have to confront him. Kids are not learning what it means to wait.
Now, this is where these things intersect. The person in my family who is filing for divorce has been married a long time. While I wish she was not doing it, I think she's spent a considerable time trying in her marriage. Please don't misunderstand me; I'm not saying I like divorce, but I cannot say that she has not worked at it. But what about the story I heard about the couple who had not even been married five years? The couple was 28 years old when they divorced. Can you imagine not even being thirty and already having been married and divorced?
Are our young people who are currently growing up in an instant gratification world going to have the patience for a committed marriage? I was reflecting back yesterday about my own marriage, and the things that have changed and things that have stayed the same. There are things about me which I wish had changed more in the past 25 years. There are things I'm still working toward changing. There have been times when my husand and I have worked to change things and it has been an exercise in patience. We desired a change, but we both know it takes time to implement change, to soften hearts, to change attitudes, to see sin, to repent of it, to seek restoration. Things can go bad between a couple very quickly, but sometimes, it takes much longer to fix things. If we gave up on the marriage because we were too impatient with one another about changing or growing, we would have packed it in after a couple of years. Marriage is not a sprint; it's a marathon. How many young people are going to get into marriage, and when they see that things are not always rosy, and see that people usually don't change quickly, will they give up?
This lack of patience, coupled with the shallow nature of social media relationships makes me wonder what the marriages of our young people will look like in thirty years or so. I believe in the sovereignty of God, and I know he is the author of a good marriage, but how will the world our kids live in affect how they apply biblical principles to their own relationships? It's something I wonder about quite a bit.