Rings & things: A confession

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.

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.

I lied.

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.”

One of the best discussions of marriage I've ever read. We are consciously opting in. (via @) http://bit.ly/fdIS15
@BelleRenee
BelleRenee

 

You should read it.

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

13 Comments

  1. TJ Tuesday, April 5, 2011 5:08 pm

    Kaci, this is really, really beautiful.

    What you’re describing….is the kind of feelings that I would want to feel, regardless of rings, documents, and everything else. I would hope that these kinds of feelings are what the majority of monogamous-minded folk are hoping to experience?

    Getting married for the sake of getting married is just not something I hope to do. At all. A life time can be a LONG time, after all.

    It’s like that old cheesy cliche…you don’t simply want a person that you can yourself living with, you want the person that you can’t see yourself living without.

    • Kaci Johanna Tuesday, April 5, 2011 5:14 pm

      Everything you just said: Yes.

      Unfortunately, I’ve heard too many times (and even hearing this once is too many) that, if things don’t work out… “There’s always divorce.” Don’t get me wrong, I support divorce as an option, but to go into a marriage already thinking about divorcing your bride- or husband-to-be? Ugh.

      But, that’s where that article comes into play. Our generation is being more deliberate about marriages; we are consciously opting in. I love that.

      And thank you! So much.

  2. TJ Tuesday, April 5, 2011 5:20 pm

    I know. It’s terrible. Not to mention, that so much of the mid-20s dating pool is ALREADY divorced, single parents. etc. There’s some major baggage out there these days.

    Sometimes I think that I just grew up in the wrong generation.

    But that’s okay. I just have to keep putting myself out there and wait my turn so to speak. 🙂

  3. terra Wednesday, April 6, 2011 8:47 am

    I think normal is fleeting. Our generation is just different and we have a lot of lessons available to us that previous generations might not have had and I think it’s great that people wait years and even decades before getting hitched.

    And I love what you said about having time to work through things – I think waiting for marriage allows time to settle in, to feel it out, to make sure it works. It’s much better than finding out the hard way that it’s not right after all sorts of legal documents are involved.

    • Kaci Johanna Wednesday, April 6, 2011 10:53 am

      True – after I posted this, I looked at it again and cringed a little at my use of “normal,” because I agree – it is fleeting. Maybe I should have said “normal” instead of normal.

      Waiting to get married is the only way, to me, it makes sense. This kind of leads me into the discussion of living together before you get married (“living in sin”) or not. I honestly just can’t imagine being engaged and getting married, and THEN living together. Good grief. But that’s a whole ‘nother blog post!

  4. Brittney Wednesday, April 6, 2011 10:18 am

    I love this post. Because I agree. It’s like this stigma that you have to, once you turn 24 and arent married, say you dont WANT to be married, or it’s not the cool thing to say you want totally stereotypical things like marriage and children. Or on the opposite end, feel like you HAVE to want those things.

    Well, and it also kind of sparked another thing I always think about – about how people all around me who ARE married (and we’re the opposite, MOST of MY friends are nowhere near getting married, a lot of Sean’s aren’t, but then everyone near us in TX is popping out kids) are on the next step of having children. And I get thrown back and forth on the parenthood topic because I’m honestly not sure. I think I’d be a really great parent, but I also grasp the COST and TIME that being a good parent takes, and at the moment I don’t really want them. But when everyone your age is wanting to talk or have babies, you don’t fit in. I can’t hang with the stay at home mom’s in our neighborhood because I work, and I can’t talk Little Jimmy’s report card because I don’t have a Little Jimmy, we have to plan all events around when people can find babysitters and our HOA plans family events only for socializing…. Which sort of eliminates any couple that is CHOOSING to not yet be a parent at this age. We can’t really attend easter egg hunts or Santa Claus photo events without looking like creepy creepy people, ya know?

    Now I’m on a tangent. Sigh. LOL.

    • Kaci Johanna Wednesday, April 6, 2011 11:14 am

      I love your tangents. 🙂

      I honestly never thought about it the other way around, though – being in your position, married with friends who aren’t and aren’t getting married. I can imagine the difficulties there, too.

      And then the kid thing. It honestly took me a couple years to decide that yes, I do want children. When my guy and I first moved in together, there was all this pressure from his side of the family to start popping out kids. (They obviously don’t really care about the “living in sin” thing.) And it made me NOT want kids. Ever. Partially out of spite, I think, because their comments were constantly pissing me off.

      … and now I’M the one on a tangent. 🙂

  5. Stacey Wednesday, April 6, 2011 11:00 am

    Oh boy. Billy and I went through a period where it seemed like ALL of our friends were getting engaged…and we WEREN’T. I pouted, asked why a zillion times, and may have even stomped my feet in a tantrum a time or two (truly, it was an ugly period for me!) But just like you said, we had so much time to work through issues – serious issues that, had we not worked through them – would have pretty much destroyed any chance of us STAYING married. We split up a few times – yes, I did say “a FEW”. In the end, the timing worked itself out, and we got engaged and married at the right time for US. You’ll get there, and it will be amazing. XO

    • Kaci Johanna Wednesday, April 6, 2011 11:16 am

      Oh, Stacey, ditto. I’ve pouted, I’ve screamed. I’ve been sad about it and I’ve been pissed about it. Not pretty. But it all comes down to, when the time is right for us (as cliche as it sounds, but like you said!), it WILL happen, and I know that. Thank you!

  6. Sara Wednesday, April 6, 2011 12:39 pm

    Wow Kaci, I don’t think I could have said it better. I have several friends who aren’t even dating and others who are engaged/married so it’s quite a mix. It does seem like more and more people are getting engaged, including my only sibling last week. And I feel so happy for her and the others but I have such sadness and jealously too. My man and I’ve been together for almost six years and lived together for about 4 of them. I understand that we haven’t gotten engaged yet because we were finishing up college, then after we were both done, so many people have put such pressure on him.

    Meanwhile, just like you, I have to remind myself, that I’m TRULY happy especially with him in my life and that he’s not going anywhere. I KNOW that he wants to be with me with the rest of our lives as I do with him. Thank you for the post, it’s nice knowing we’re not alone. And when the day comes, when you eventually get engaged? You bet I’m going to jump up and down and scream omgomgomg yay. =)

  7. rik Wednesday, April 6, 2011 12:49 pm

    Honey, you’ve been dropping hints about this for years. plus, you guys just bought a house.
    I’m sorry you’re feeling the pressure. I can feel it a little now so I can only imagine it keeps growing.

  8. ameena Wednesday, April 6, 2011 11:04 pm

    oh man, i’ve been going through the “everyone’s life is so exciting and mine sucks” blues pretty heavily lately. i ended up doing the exact same thing where i just clung to all the negative sides of marriage and babies and travels and whatever the hell else was making me sad just so i could convince myself i didn’t need (or want) those things. i’m really happy you’ve found waiting to get married to be beneficial. i definitely think far too many people rush in to marriage. why not enjoy the dating stage and the engaged stage for a while? like TJ said, a lifetime is an awfully long time to be together. there shouldn’t be any rushing.

  9. Pingback: A year in review: 2011 was an effing rollercoaster, y’all.

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