In two weeks, we will have been together for eight and a half years. We’ve matured into this relationship together. It’s deepened and grown and is probably the most important part of my life. We’ve lived together since 2012. Nobody knows me better than him. He’s the person I want to say everything to, the only person I can be completely honest with at all times. I have no fear around him. It’s the most brilliant feeling I can imagine.
Sometimes I torture myself by reading funny articles, like this one, where people talk about things ‘only married people understand’. And then I fly through an absurd range of emotions. Laughter and agreement (because in fact, most of these apply to us, and the ones that don’t have nothing to do with our marriage status, but rather our personalities), then indignation that somehow our relationship is considered less valid because we aren’t married, then stubborn pride that we have all this without having had to throw a big expensive party,* then anxiety about whether or not it really is important to be married.**
We’ve long been of the opinion that we’re fine as we are. We have everything we need, and most of the things we want. There will always be goals we’re working towards – a house, our careers, being closer to our families, and whatever comes after those. But we’re a team.
At the beginning of our relationship, maybe years 2-5, Eric quite wanted to get married. I was still in school, and insistent that we were too young, and that education was my top priority. Then after graduate school I wanted to jump-start my career and make a solid dent in my student loans – no time to plan a wedding! In the last two years or so I’ve softened a little on the idea of marriage, become more accepting, but we both waver on the idea. And so we’ve gone on as we are, and we’re really quite content.
I know there are practical reasons for marriage – tax reasons, issues of medical decision-making and such. They seem like good reasons to get married.
Also, you know, the fact that we like each other a lot and plan to spend the rest of our lives together.
I’m not sure I’m a bold enough person to do something like elope or have only our immediate family members with us on our wedding day. Maybe. While I adore that idea for its simplicity, we also each have really good friends we’d like to be there. I would also love having bridesmaids, not in a sickly squealing-and-giggling-and-bachelorette-party way, but in the sense of having steady, close friends right by me as I marry this super important person.
But reconciling the time investment and/or financial cost of planning something like that is hard for me. We have so many other goals – loans and travel and a house.
At this moment we think we’d like to get married, but it’s not our top priority. Sometimes I’m excited about the prospect of planning a wedding, sometimes I’m despondent, sometimes I wish we’d married each other years ago, and sometimes I’m certain we don’t need to get married. I feel like I have to justify all of it and it stresses me out.***
It’s a fluid point in our relationship, and we talk about it often. That’s what grounds me. We’re a team, we’re in it together, and we’ll figure it out.
*Read: I know not all weddings are expensive. I’m a big fan of sticking it to the wedding industry and doing it yourself, being less traditional, and saving that money. But I also know that there’s a lot more personal work involved that way, which takes more time. I have always firmly believed that my wedding day will not the most important day of my life, and that if it is, the rest of my life may be in trouble, leading me to resist the idea of splashing out and/or spending months preparing for such an event.
**It’s hard to pin down where this anxiety builds from. It’s not faith-related. I think God blesses a relationship filled with commitment, love, and respect regardless of whether the two people have said vows. It’s partly social – as people around me get married, my fear of missing out increases. Conversely, as many of my other friends remain unmarried, it makes me think that getting married isn’t necessary – it’d be weird. So, as usual, it’s mostly self-created anxiety.
***And then I have moments where I completely over-analyze the whole thing and think, gosh, just get married already! Why all the stress?