It seems that everyone in my social circle is getting engaged or married, which has forced my boyfriend and me to finally discuss this whole marriage business. I always vaguely envisioned marriage in my future, but in having to actually discuss it concretely, I realized how many hangups I have. See, I am very happy for everyone getting hitched these days. We are all in our late 20s, and it’s simply part of the natural progression of things. But when discussing the matter, the words “engagement,” “marriage,” and “husband” felt so terrible in my mouth.
I love my boyfriend deeply. We’ve been together for over four years now and we’ve been living together for one and a half. I can’t imagine anyone better for me. We get along, we have similar interests, we respect each other, and we have fun together. I simply cannot imagine ever being with anyone else. My hesitation has nothing to do with the relationship itself, but by my skewed notions of what marriage is.
One reason I felt hesitant is because of my career (or lack there of). We are both struggling writers — very dedicated to our craft and absolutely determined to be recognized for it. (Our love of poetry is what brought us together, in fact.) In my mind, for some reason, I thought I would have a book published or at least have a decent job before getting married. But as one married couple pointed out to us — what does your career have to do with getting married? Not much, it turns out.
It always seemed to me that marriage was a burden— full of compromises, drudgery, and quiet despair, which I realize is unfair. It’s just that I’ve seen so many unhappy couples who don’t even seem to like each other anymore. Many people also seem to lose their sense of self because they become consumed by their spouse and children. But as I think more deeply about this, I also know happily married people who keep their individuality, still like each other, and have an active social life. Also, there are plenty of miserable single people in the world. If my boyfriend and I have never been dull people who accept mediocrity, why would we ever be?
I think I may have also watched one too many episodes of “Bridezillas.” Our cultural obsession with weddings is really bizarre to me and so the idea of epic, opulent weddings make me recoil with disgust. The narcissism, the materialism, the self-importance — all too much for me to stomach. We personally don’t have several thousand dollars to blow on one day. But upon further reflection, I realize that neither one of us is fancy, showy, or materialistic. Our wedding would be a cheap and Mexican affair — I imagine it in a tent or barn with a menu of Mexican street foods and several kegs of beer. It would be loud, fun, economical.
The idea of getting married also made me feel old. It conjured up images of old geezers watching “American Idol” and bickering about taxes. I thought getting married was for the ancient and that those who got married young were foolish. I am 27, but I still feel the same kind of exuberance I did at 21. I feel young because I’m still incredibly hopeful and idealistic in some ways. I would move to a different city or country at the drop of a hat if a good opportunity presented itself. I am adventurous, impulsive, and passionate. (My boyfriend is as well, which is why we make a good match.) I realized this would also not change if we got married. Duh.
I’m so glad I was finally forced to examine why exactly the idea of getting hitched caused me such panic and a mild case of nausea. What the hell is wrong with me? I thought as I contemplated the idea of becoming a wife. The terminology sounded so oppressive! But now I realize that marriage is what you want it to be and not some prescribed relationship. My boyfriend and I are not conventional people. We will never move to the suburbs. We won’t ever lose our individuality. We won’t ever lead lives of quiet despair. And that’s the kind of team I can definitely belong to.
[Photo By TIFFANY DAWN NICHOLSON (TDNphoto)]