I constantly compare my life to the lives of others. They’re engaged; we’re not. She’s pregnant; I’m not. That blog has a couple hundred readers; mine doesn’t. It’s not pretty. It’s ugly and uncomfortable and painful and despite my efforts, I haven’t been able to just STOP the comparisons. The constant comparisons, which lead to inescapable jealousy, which makes me unhappy with my life. My life is beautiful, and most days I know that, and appreciate that. But some days, the comparisons win.
In response, I used to take it to the other extreme: Instead of expressing my jealousy, instead of communicating the things I want, I said I didn’t want them.
“I don’t want children.”
“We’re not going to get married.”
I lied, lied, lied. I lied so much I convinced myself that I didn’t want kids, that I didn’t want to get married. “It’s just a piece of paper,” I’d tell myself. “I can’t lock a baby in the basement while I go to the bar for the night,” I reasoned.
I was convinced those things just weren’t for me. Let them get married. Let her get fat and not be able to drink and not get a full night’s sleep for the next couple years. Not me.
And it’s tough, because I’m at that age – my friends? They’re getting married. They’re having babies. Stories of pregnancy and engagement and weddings are everywhere. And while I AM so. ridiculously. happy. for each and every one of these beautiful women, I’m also jealous.
Awhile ago, the fabulous Renee tweeted about a “discussion on marriage.”
But for all you lazy folks, here are the parts that really stuck out to me:
- “We know how painful it is to disentangle oneself from shared families, shared apartments, and shared dreams for the future – marriage license or not.”
- “We know that marriage is one of our society’s last expressions of real, ritualized commitment and that it can be the backbone of a beautiful, messy family life, but we also know that it’s one of the hardest things in the world to get right, to stay in, to make last.
The point is not that we are abandoning marriage as a potentially viable, if radically reclaimed institution. It’s that, more and more, we are choosing it consciously, aiming to transform it into something more equal and less embittering.” [emphasis mine]
- “Just because men are no longer slotted into being traditional breadwinners and women are no longer slotted into being care-taking homemakers does not mean that families are no longer important to young people. … We want parenthood and passion, interdependence and independence – conscious, constantly evolving partnerships that reflect who we truly are, not who we were told we were supposed to be by wedding planners, priests, or conservative radio hosts.”
After reading it, I’ve decided that, you know what? It’s okay. It’s okay that I’m not married, it’s okay that I’m not engaged. But it’s also okay to want those things, too.
Waiting a little longer than what may be normal has given The Boy and I the chance to work through some things that I’ve seen rip marriages apart. I don’t mean that our relationship is better or stronger because we’re not married. I just mean that we got to work through a lot of the shit that is inevitable in a relationship. (And really, I mean that. If your relationship doesn’t have or hasn’t had any shit, you’re not loving hard enough.) But now that we’re almost four years into this, and we’re not married and we’re not engaged, it’s given me the time to digest the relationship. It’s given me the chance to figure out how I really feel about marriage.
There are so many people out there – and not necessarily young people, either, just people in general – who want so badly to be married. They want the companionship, the commitment. And that’s all fine and dandy. In fact, I want that, too.
But letting my relationship soak in, to get down into my bones, has really shown me that I don’t just want to be married. I want to be married to him. I feel pretty confident that someday, that will happen.
And nobody else can say that.
Photo: Geoffrey Wiseman