I find it incredibly sad that as a 25 year old female who is graduating from law school and getting ready to start her career at a law firm is most frequently asked about one thing: marriage. I can think of 157 things I’d like to talk about, and marriage and engagement are not on the list.
Sidenote: this is not to say that I don’t love hearing about other people’s relationships, because I do. I find that listening to other people’s experiences when it comes to relationships is a great way to get perspective and understand the millions of ways people make relationships work. That said, I don’t want to talk to you about why my perfect boyfriend of three and a half years and I aren’t engaged yet.
So for all of you women out there who have to constantly justify yourself to those oh-so-curious busybodies, feel free to give them my perfectly rehearsed response.
First of all, I personally am not sure what people mean when they say they are “ready” or “not ready” to get married. I assume if you had asked me that at 21, then sure, I would have said no I’m not ready to get married; but I was a child then. I am an adult now in a committed, mostly healthy relationship. If for some strange reason marriage were to be forced upon me right now, I don’t think my first thought would be, “but I’m not ready!” I don’t even know what ready means without a qualifier. Ready for what? To live with someone? My boyfriend and I virtually live together now. To be committed for life? After giving someone almost 4 years of my most beautiful and energetic years, I’d say that I’m pretty committed, even without the legally binding document.
So no, my reason for not getting married right now is not because I’m not ready. It’s because I am content.
I believe that many people who get married—young or old—are doing so because they are constantly looking forward to that ~*next step.*~ So much of what we are taught is focused on the future—saving for the future, planning for the future, thinking about the future. I am guilty of this as much (okay, probably more than) anyone.
As someone whose adult life has barely even started, I am always thinking about my future. But thinking about my future, and getting excited for it, is different than taking action to speed up time so than I can be in my future.
Here is an example: you have a trip coming up in a couple of months that you’re so excited for you can’t stop thinking about it. You’re planning your days, going shopping for outfits, researching the area, and just generally being excited for this trip. Then the time comes to go on the trip, and you’re there, and it’s awesome, but you’re living it, which is different than imagining it. And then it’s over. And you have the memories, yes, but the excitement that came from looking forward to the trip is over, and to be honest, looking forward to the trip is almost as exciting as being on it. So why would you choose to shorten that period of time where your mind wanders to all of the wonderful possibilities about your trip?
This is how I feel about getting married.
Even though I am a grown woman, I am still a young girl, daydreaming about her wedding, the proposal, being a mom. All of these things are beautiful and cherished potential possibilities that occupy my brain and bring me happiness, excitement, and hope for the future.
Even though this article is about the timing of marriage, at the core of what I’ve discovered is the timing of life. I think it would be trite for me to say that no one lives in the present anymore, even though that is devastatingly true. And I’m not even going to go into all of the reasons I believe living in a time other than the present is so easy today. But people, particularly young people in their 20’s, are so eager to experience life’s most magical moments, that before they know it, it’s all behind them.
I am acutely aware the passage of time. Probably more than most and certainly more than people my age. Time stresses me out every day. I never want too much time, but then I never have enough time. Perhaps it is because I am surrounded by real adults who struggle every day with their fleeting existences. Or perhaps it is because I watch a lot of grey’s anatomy where people die and time is really cut short. Either way, I know how fast time passes even when we don’t try and speed it up by fast-forwarding to the good parts. I certainly don’t want to make my time go by any faster. I want to daydream for as long as I can.