A shortish one today. On Dalrock’s blog, I commented about my theory that the main reason women delay marriage (and have other problems) today is that they can’t stand to give up on the huge number of options they see before them. To quote myself: “Instead of choosing between a half-dozen eligible bachelors in her small town and settling down there or nearby — or possibly going to the convent or deciding neither of those is for her and becoming a nurse or teacher — she feels like she has a whole world of men to choose from, plus numerous possible careers, places to live, adventures to have, and so on.” Commenter I Art Laughing summed that up in one word:
I think we agree Cail, what you described is GREED. A total lack of contentment and a total distrust of God’s provision.
I hadn’t tried to come up with a single word for it (why use one word when a thousand will do?), but he’s right, that’s the one. Maybe leavened with pride, without which you probably couldn’t have the “I deserve the best possible life” attitude.
However, I don’t like to stop there, because that’s not a solution. You can tell women to stop being greedy, but that doesn’t address whatever is driving the outburst of greed in the first place, so it’s not likely to help much. Greed is one of the seven deadly sins; it’s always been with us, so why are today’s women so much more afflicted with it than their grandmothers were? To look for solutions, you have to ask why this is suddenly such a huge problem, and that’s what leads me to the huge number of choices women have. I think the more choices people have, the more they get greedy because they don’t want to give up any of them. (Men might have the same problem if they had as many choices, but they don’t, so they don’t.)
It’s like the other day, I stopped at the grocery store for two ingredients for something I was making: cream cheese and some sort of green vegetable. The cream cheese took about 5 seconds: there are two brands, pick the one that’s cheaper today, make sure I don’t accidentally get the low-fat crap, and I’m done. But for the vegetable, there are several different vegetables I like, plus the choice of fresh, canned, or frozen; organic or conventional; different sale prices and quantities to consider. I spent a couple minutes (a long time for me) buying the vegetable, far more than I spent on the cream cheese.
Now take that couple minutes and extrapolate it out to a lifetime, with aisle after aisle in a supermarket the size of the world filled with interesting men, interesting careers, interesting places to visit, and so on. Most of them aren’t real, but some are, and you can’t tell which ones until you’ve visited every aisle and read every label.
That’s what the 28-year-old “I’m not ready to settle down” girl is doing: she’s pushing her cart up and down the aisles of life looking for the best deal. Once in a while she likes something enough to put it in the cart, but she keeps pushing, not knowing if there will be something even better in the next aisle. She can’t commit to going through the checkout and walking out with something, because she doesn’t know what she’s missed. Unless she’s been taught that life is a series of trade-offs and regrets mixed with joys (at best), she doesn’t know how to pick something that’s “good enough” and be happy with it.
That still doesn’t define a solution, but it starts to hint at the shape of one.