I struggle balancing my childish desire to succumb to the social pressure of being a “real adult” with my cynical attempts to avoid it. What the hell is so great about being a “real adult” anyway? Having a mortgage? Wishing you were younger?
I’m a college graduate. I respect my elders. I pay my bills on time. I’m responsible enough. I sort of think about the future. But really….what does that even mean?
My paranoid anxiety doesn’t let me shake the feeling that people are always expecting more of me. And the most fucked up part of it is that I want to give it to them! I should be climbing the corporate ladder, putting money into my 401K, saving up for a new house with a white picket fence and planning for “the future,” right? Every wedding I attend, I get pestered about my boyfriend of 8 years and our assumed forthcoming nuptials. If it isn’t one of our mothers, it’s an aunt, uncle, cousin, friend, or even a newly introduced stranger.
It could be you walking down that aisle!!! What are you waiting for?!?! One of us! Gooble gobble! One of us! One of us! One of us! One of us! One of us!
I don’t think people intend to be ignorant, pushy and invasive when they hassle you about marriage. They absolutely ARE being all of those things, but I don’t think they intend to be. They think it’s a cute joke to pressure you into being jealous of the life they selectively showcase on Facebook. What it turns into is the fucked up notion that somehow our relationship isn’t important enough or strong enough compared to theirs, because they signed a paper, walked down an aisle and threw a party. People judge my relationship differently because I don’t have a ring on my finger. I know they have no idea about the sexual pain, therapy and years of struggle that we went through to make this relationship survive. They don’t know that my boyfriend stayed by my side when I was hitting rock bottom and rejecting him sexually for years. Yes, I said YEARS. No one would sign up for that baggage unless they were in love, truly madly deeply Savage Garden style.
The struggles we’ve been through (and also the therapy) have given us a deeper connection and stronger communication skills than most couples I know, married or not. I can honestly say that I am in a relationship with someone who loves me more than anything else in the world, so why can’t I stop myself from wanting more? Why does being referred to as a “girlfriend” make me feel so incredibly inferior? Why do I go crazy watching everyone around me get engaged and spend days of their life planning on how to waste a sickening amount of money?
I think the current-day idea of marriage is still medieval, sexist and something that people rush into all too often because they either come from a religious family, get pregnant or a combination of the two. I haven’t planned my perfect wedding or dreamed about the overpriced dress I’ll wear for one night. I don’t need to be given away like a prize cow. I don’t need a husband to claim me as his own, provide for me and give me his name. I come from a divorced family and have witnessed my share of unsuccessful relationships to make me extremely skeptical of the whole idea, but there is still something deep down inside of me that wants nothing more than to say, “I do.” I can’t even try to pretend it’s not there. Believe me, I’ve tried.
I feel guilty when people rag on my boyfriend about getting married because no one will ever be able to see things from our perspectives. He’s skeptical of marriage, as I think most people should be. He sees the unhappy marriages of his friends and family and thinks that putting a ring on his finger is going to change everything that we love about us. He also is haunted by the years of hysterical anxiety and pain we fought through. Who can blame him? IT SUCKED. They were the worst years of my life and I would not wish that pain and solitude and heartbreak on anyone. He jokes that I want to be part of “The Marriage Club” and as much as I try to deny stooping to that shallow level, he’s right!
Maybe I’m naive to think that what we have is special, but sometimes when I think back on the experiences that we’ve had, I wonder how we ever got out of bed and went to work each morning. How the HELL did we ever make it this far? I sometimes wonder how many couples feel this way after the better part of a decade, but it’s too taboo to talk about so everyone just pretends it doesn’t exist.
In every relationship I’ve seen evolve from dating to marriage, it’s almost always the women who want it/beg for it/demand it. I’m not saying their significant other doesn’t love them more than anything, but why have we allowed society to evolve into a place where women feel inferior if you aren’t married? Does it really prove anything about you or your relationship? With all of the struggling relationships out there, what makes us all so certain that ours is any different from the rest?
As a handful of my good friends prepare for their upcoming weddings, I’m working on balancing my newly neurotic feelings with his apprehension about marriage.I don’t feel less loves because I’m not married, but it sure is a strange mix of emotions.
Please share your thoughts on whether you agree with me or think I’m a cynical jerk.