It was almost 1 PM on Sunday and my hangover was still in full force from the past weekend. Beside me was my new friend – a cute, spontaneous, and spunky Australian blonde, who I met in Nashville. We both were a little lost in this town, so we made a likely pair and decided to get lunch before I headed back home. As we got to know each other, she asked me the average age when people get married in the South. Without delaying, I replied, “Anywhere from 22 to 25 is normal.” Her eyes got huge and she shouted, “FAR OUT! You’ve got to be joking!” I looked back dead serious and said, “No, I am not joking at all. It’s normal for women to go to college in the South, looking for a husband. It ain’t called an M.R.S. degree for nothing.” She looked kinda confused, so I had to explain what an M.R.S. degree was. Talk about a culture shock.
I’m also somewhat shocked by my own culture. I’d guess that 65% of my high school class of 112 students are married now (I graduated in 2009). I’m one of the few that got the memo to go to college and pursue life as an independent woman. I don’t understand the mentality. I don’t get the idea that women have an expiration date when it comes to marriage. And why do you “have something wrong with you” if you decide to get married a little later than everyone else?
Why is there so much pressure involved when it comes to marriage and becoming a mother? Shouldn’t you marry someone and have kids with them because you love them, not because you are hitting 25 this year? I would honestly be fine with dating someone for several years without the promise of marriage. Maybe I am crazy. Maybe I will get thrown into the pit of hell for thinking that living with someone before you get married is necessary. I half-way lived with someone before that was enough to scare me into thinking, “Thank God at the end of the day I have my own place to go home to if this doesn’t work out.”
My parents got married very young and I learned my lesson from them. I wasn’t upset with my parents when they got a divorce, because I knew something was missing. They got along and they were great friends, but the kind of love that you are supposed to feel for your significant other wasn’t there. So the lesson I learned from all of that is that I will never marry someone that I don’t love in a passionate way. I want my husband to be so crazy about me that he can barely function in the morning when he looks over at my side of the bed and realizes that this is the real deal. I want someone who wants a family with me and wants to be a great dad. I want someone to love me like they could never love someone else. And I want to feel that way about them. I won’t get married until I find that, no matter how old I am.
With America’s divorce rate at a steady 50%, it is obvious that people are making some mistakes when it comes to marriage. And yes, life may slap me in the face. I might take all these precautionary measures and my husband might wake up in the morning and decide to go have an affair with an 18 year old. Who knows. But, I would still rather verge on the extra safe side and make sure I at least think I know what I’m getting into.
It takes time to find that person. You can’t just expect that the first person you meet is going to be your soulmate. A lot of people don’t take the time to date and get to know someone. They get bogged down in their small town life and settle for someone that could be satisfied with. Life is too short for satisfaction when it comes to love. I’m not willing to settle for just someone who takes care of me and keeps me satisfied. Call me a hopeless romantic (emphasis on hopeless), but I think there’s someone out there for me that will be able to fulfill what I’m looking for.
I’ve seen enough failed marriages to know that marriage isn’t the idealistic version that we sometimes like to think it is. To me, marriage is for life and HUGE commitment. I dated someone for three years and the thought of marriage never seriously registered with me. Why? Because deep down I knew that this person wasn’t the right one. He was someone that I deeply loved, but not someone that I felt would be a good husband. I also knew I was way too young to be thinking about any of that and if way down the road it happened, then it did. No pressure.
I know that one day I will find someone who is on the same page as me. If I’m in love with someone, I’m content with just that and I’m going to enjoy it, rather than putting pressure on them and demanding that it is time to get married. I know so many women who gave their husbands ultimatums: “You either marry me now, or I’m done and finding someone who will marry me.” Those words will never come out of my mouth. My husband is going to actually WANT to marry me. It will be the right time for both of us. I’m not pretending to be a marriage expert, I’m just talking about my own thoughts.
Go see the world, live your life, enjoy your damn 20s, accomplish all the things you want to do independently, and if you happen to meet the love of your life along the way, good for you.