I probably won’t get married until my mid 30s and I’m fine with that
Reflections on love, life, relationships and getting married
Growing up, marriage was the end goal of every little girl I knew. I always thought it was kind of weird. Or maybe I was just a progressive 10 year old.
Boys, crushes and dreams of Prince Charming was not really my thing but over time, through the gentle subconscious conditioning of everyone around me, I began to believe that I had to get married before I turned 30.
By the time I hit my twenties and still haven’t had a boyfriend, I began to panic. I did the math — 3 years in a relationship, then a year of engagement with an end of year wedding — that’s at least 4–5 years. If I wanted to get married before I hit the old maid’s age, I’ll need to find Mr Right before I turned a certain age (with a bit of a buffer zone of 1–2 years).
I stayed with the first guy that asked me out for 3 years — 2 months shy of being 4 years. We were just waiting for me to finish my University degree and do all of the typical things like getting a job, moving out and all that stuff before getting married. It was on everyone’s mind. His mom was even starting to have dreams about the wedding.
But at 22 years old, I knew I didn’t want it — not with him — so I broke it off. My mother had a mental breakdown.
Relationships with marriage as the end game
I wanted more to life and the idea of getting married to him was a weird death sentence. Or perhaps the only reference of happiness I’ve ever encountered culminated at the all coveted, white dress wearing event. No Disney Princess movie ever go into the aftermath. Well, I’m certain there’s one about Cinderella after she got married but I’ve never watched it.
At age 24, I met the father of my child. We weren’t actually together at the time when I got pregnant at age 26 and things remained haywire for a very long time. Whatever prospects of getting married went out the door. I didn’t want to get married — not if it was going to end in divorce.
We argued a lot. I cried a lot. He refused to talk a lot. It was a dysfunctional relationship and it wasn’t until last year when we started to get our shit together as individuals and as a family.
There’s no point getting married if we can’t even make the basics of a relationship work.
Life ends at the wedding bells
Back in my pre-teen days, I used to play with a girl who’s end goal in life was to get married. She had no other aspirations in life except to find her Prince Charming. From what I know, she’s onto her third husband with two kids in tow.
When I had my daughter, I would often get asked when the wedding would be. There was a perpetual air of expectation that gently deflated itself over time.
They would ask me, sometimes jokingly, ‘when’s the wedding?’ and my reply would always be ‘meh, I’ll get there when I get there’.
The last time I tried to rush the process, it almost destroyed me.
At age 28, they’ve now stopped asking.
Finding a different dream to live
When marriage becomes the end goal in life, you start to lose sight or never discover your passions. You begin to skimp and sacrifice. You say yes to things even when your heart isn’t in it. You chase after a dream that’s not really a dream at all but a social construct of a contract.
When you get married, you sign a legal document that merges your finances into one (unless there’s prenup). Marriage is an economic merger of resources and in the eyes of the law, you’re essentially almost one single legal entity. A lot of kids miss this fact when they dream about getting married. They’re too hung up on the type of cake and dress they’ll wear.
For Americans, the average celebratory act of marriage costs $35,329 in 2016. Two or three rounds of weddings in a decade is probably enough as a decent down payment for student loans and the mortgage.
Learning to love is different from getting married
Over time, I’ve decided to separate love and marriage from one other. I decided to take it back to the original, 15th century kind of days of why people got married. Right now, he only gets the title of my lover, my partner, my friend, and the father of my child. We’re still together, under the same roof and in the same bed — minus the financial finality of marriage.
Being a defacto relationship doesn’t really matter much anyway in the eyes of the law. It’s like we’re already married, except there’s no official piece of paper or professionally done photographs to prove it.
As I’m nearing the end of my twenties, I’ve come to accept that I’ll probably never get married until perhaps my mid-30s. When you start viewing marriage as an economic function rather than the thing that keeps two people together, then your priorities start to change. Your view on the idea starts to morph and you stress less about being an ‘old maid’ — especially when you’re doing the other person’s laundry and making them dinner.
Maybe my perception and thoughts may be a bit different if I was alone and childless.
Dreaming the dream
By my mid-30s, I hope to have enough to own our own home because the renter’s life has its own sets of uncertainty. By my mid-30s, we should be both financially strong and independent enough from each other to have $35k to spare for a wedding. By my mid-30s, the children should be grown up enough to see and understand why mommy and daddy chased their individual dreams and made it work as a family rather than get married.
Because when marriage was our end goal, the stresses and expectations of making the relationship work broke us up more than how we’re operating as lovers, as parents, as partners, and as friends today.
Don’t get me wrong, some couples have it all figured out but for us, our priorities are different. Most of the people I know around my age are either getting married or are already married. They’re doing things in the prescribed order. While there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just not how my life played out.
Onward with life
At the rate we’re going, maybe by the time I hit my mid-30s, I’ll end up with a backyard ceremony and a fried chicken buffet. Maybe I’ll get some balloons and arrange it nicely around the place. Maybe there’ll be some flowers and a cake for dessert.
But I’ll need to get the backyard first.
Oh look at me, finally making plans for a wedding. A girl can dream about her perfect wedding but this girl has other better things to do like make a series of awesomely perfect days. I think it’s better to have more of those than just one all consuming and financially draining, family and friends gathering, celebratory day.