Lately I have been getting every gal’s favorite question asked to me, “Why aren’t you married?” My friends ask it boldly: “Are you going to be boyfriend and girlfriend for 20 years, gosh how long do you need?” Acquaintances don’t even ask, they just say: “Marry him!” and my mom figures out a different way to ask the same question every weekend in a variety of interesting fashions, including but not limited to: “Do you see yourself ever having a wedding?” “Would you be willing to buy a home with him without being married?” “Does he ever mention marriage?” “Is marriage something you’ve brought up recently?” “Does he know what type of ring you’d like, have you told him?” “What does he say when your friends get engaged?” Really, my mom should probably work for the FBI, she would be a phenomenal investigator.
So I have decided to explain and speak up for my girls out there, in love and unmarried, who politely answer personal questions about their relationship and who have years under their belt with the same man yet no effing ring (yet).
Love is not all you need. Love is the easiest part of my relationship, but what about the hundreds of other components that two people need to be on the same page about prior to saying that forever sounds like a good time together? Communication, trust, respect and loyalty take time. They take energy and dedication from both people. In my personal situation, which is a bit unconventional, we had so many more components to take into consideration while developing our relationship. We took our time, we had the really hard conversations and we had them often. We grew together, we learned each other. Falling in love is easy, staying in love requires effort at times and if you’re going to marry someone, take the time to work on staying in love, not rushing to the alter.
I needed independence. This is the most important reason that I was not married the first week I met my boyfriend, which I actually thought was a great idea at the time. I needed to experience independence. I was in my last year of college when I met my current boyfriend and at the time my parents paid my rent so I could focus on school. After I graduated I started living with him, and he is old fashioned in the belief that he wants to pay the bills. So I went from being taken care of by my parents to taken care of by my boyfriend and guess what, I did not want to be taken care of. So I went a little crazy and bought a new car and a new home and two puppies and moved in. I budgeted my money, I cried a lot and each month I am still stressed out making sure bills are paid and there is food in my kitchen but I have been independent for the past two years. I wasn’t able to get married to this man and experience these things and I had to experience these things. It is so important as a young woman to know I can make it on my own two feet, to have confidence in knowing that I will never need to be dependent on anyone. That is a major reason why I am not married and thank God I met a man who respected my goals enough to stand by me while I went through it, who gave me time to figure it out.
Marriage is scary. I love diamonds and I would love to be able to send a picture of an engagement ring to my best friend with the caption “GAME OVER” under it but in today’s world it almost seems like that is more important than the vows of marriage. Showing off your love on social media seems to be more exciting than actually being in love. Let’s be honest, marriage is scary, you are legally bound to another person forever. Marriage looks really fun in pictures, weddings look like a blast but behind that is a very serious commitment that hopefully will be shared whole-heartedly by two people for dozens of years to come. Take the time to talk about the scary stuff, to admit that a lot of marriages don’t work out and while there are tons of highs in the future, there are also lows. And knowing it is OK to be nervous about marriage, it doesn’t mean you’re with the wrong person, it probably means you are realistic, that you know broken families and that you want to take the time to make sure marriage is right for you.
I have also granted myself a bit of grace in the department of marriage. I am not married because it is OK to not be married yet. My whole life I have been on this track of “normal” milestones and while I struggle sometimes to not treat an engagement/marriage like another goal I need to achieve, I have largely realized that life’s moments are not finish lines you cross, they are journeys you enjoy. The world pressures me to constantly turn the page of my life: to go to college, to get a job, to find a good man and to marry him. This part of my life, where I have found a good man, is beautiful and while I am excited to one day turn the page, I am also overjoyed to be in this moment and to just let things unfold as God wants them to.
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