I’ve had a boyfriend for four years and we’re not engaged. I know. But we like it that way for now. Seriously.
To me, getting married is not something that a person should do when she has to call her mother multiple times a day for various reasons including, “I was too scared to kill a bug so I just drowned it in Raid. Will I get cancer now?” Marriage doesn’t seem appropriate for someone who is continually moving the same 20 dollars from checking to savings.
As a wife, you can’t regularly experience existential crises like I do. In my mind, marriage is for more worldly people, people who have settled down in life. Because after you say “I do” comes the purchase of a house and the arrival of children. And quite frankly, I’m not comfortable with that. I openly admit it: I am not ready to get married. Now is not the time to tie the knot.
However, the lack of a princess cut or pear-shaped diamond on my hand seems to prove upsetting to those who know me. The amount of times per day that I am questioned about my relationship status is becoming rather alarming. During a recent trip to my dentist, the hygienist immediately grabbed my hand, and then let out an audible sigh. I was unsure whether I should apologize or just smile and walk away. Instead, upon further questioning, I blurted out, “No ring. Just some dry skin.” That seemed to put an end to the conversation.
In years past, while shopping with my mom, I could point out a wedding dress in a window and start a discussion about the cut and style. Now my comments on the beautiful gown are met with, “It is lovely. But there’s just one problem.”
The problem she’s talking about is my lack of left hand bling and failure to embrace the concept of holy matrimony. My college roommate who is living in Italy asks me when she’ll need to book a trip home for my wedding. I reassure her that she’ll have plenty of time to rack up frequent flier miles before my big day.
In some ways, it feels like each passing day that I’m still just a girlfriend only adds to the pressure. After year one of our relationship, people in my life were asking if we were serious. At year two they wanted to know if he’s “The One.” When we moved in together, the anticipation about an impending engagement announcement reached a fever pitch. But by year four, it’s as if we’ve missed a deadline.
This is only heightened by the fact that each time I log on to Facebook I see a little heart in the top right corner announcing some high school classmate’s engagement. It worsens when I realize that couples that have been together half as long as we have are tying the knot. Combine this with the fact that when my boyfriend and I attend a family wedding we’re reminded that all of his cousins got married in chronological order and we’re up next, and it’s no surprise that I feel like our relationship is an hourglass with the sand running through. Time is running out to join the ranks of the blissfully wed.
Here’s the thing I’ve realized though: It doesn’t actually matter that I’m not engaged and we’ve been dating for four years. It doesn’t matter that I’m now almost 25. It’s not like when you’re a kid and you have to wait until you turn five to enter kindergarten so you won’t get there and wet your pants during the day. Age and length of time spent together have no correlation to readiness to say, “I do.” Some people are ready to take the plunge after a year, while other couples wait much longer.
Sometimes I feel as though I owe it to my family members or friends (or that one girl who likes all of my pictures on Facebook even though we don’t interact in real life) to get engaged. But the truth is that getting married isn’t a gift you give to your friends and relatives. Sure, they’ll get to enjoy the day. My mom will definitely cry. But that doesn’t mean that I’m letting anyone down by holding off until I feel ready.
The focus shouldn’t be on receiving a shiny piece of jewelry to show off. It’s not just about planning a bachelorette weekend with your best friends. While these elements are exciting, a wedding is one day and marriage is forever. Tying the knot should come when we both feel mature, ready, and stable enough to make that commitment to each other. And at this point in our lives, the only major commitment that we’re ready to make is watching an entire season of “Homeland” in one weekend. But you can bet that when my wedding day comes, I’ll have plenty of Pinterest ideas to put into action.
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