The Amish typically get married around 20 to 22 years of age, but how do they find romance inside their conservative culture?
For generations Amish parents have had traditions in place to help the next generation find their mate. As important as this decision is, the parents aim to keep their opinions out of the mix and trust God to direct their adult children’s steps…as long as the prospective mate is from an Amish household.
The young people begin this journey during their rumschpringe, which usually begins at 16.
The word rumschpringe means running around, which allows extra freedoms so one can find friends and hopefully a mate, but mostly the rumschpringe is a bridge between childhood and being settled with a spouse and family.
As with some teens in any culture, some Amish will use that time to party and go against all they’ve been taught…if they can get away with it.
During my times of staying with the Old Order Amish, I’ve witnessed the parents’ plan and carry out social events, regularly providing a place for the teens to play indoor and outdoor games while being chaperoned and well-fed. The parents give leeway for the young people to express interest in the opposite sex, while providing opportunities to bond with other Amish teens. Amish parents feel strongly about their teens forming healthy friendships, knowing that those relationships will often become their teens’ support system throughout life.
One of the main social events young Amish men and women enjoy is the Sunday evening singings. These singings can include Amish teens from many districts far and wide, and the events are adult-supervised. The boys and girls sit on opposite sides of the venue, which may be a barn or someone’s home. The parents who live on the property and the ones who’ve come to help out will stay seated during the singing until the good-bye song begins. Then they set out the baked goods and drinks. After the last song, the young adults are free to mingle.
It’s a great way to fellowship and to have romance spark between young people.
If an unattached young man feels drawn to a particular young woman, he will ask her if he can give her a ride home from the singing. If she agrees to it, they will use that time to get to know one another better…especially if they take the long route to her home.
Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times and CBA best-selling author of numerous works of fiction and one work of nonfiction coauthored with her closest Old Order Amish friend. Her connection with the Amish community has been widely featured in national media outlets. Cindy and her husband reside near the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains in their now-empty nest.