I am thrilled by the variety of perspectives we've had so far in the What Marriage Means to Me series! Today's post comes from Krys, who, like last week's guest poster, is unmarried. She's a great storyteller, and I bet a lot of you will resonate with her evolving thought process on marriage. She tells us how she got to the point where she finally "gets" marriage, and why it might not be such a bad thing after all.
(P.S. I am looking for more contributors to the series, so please get in touch if you'd like to post!)
~~~"Don't get married until at least thirty!" This came from my married-for-hundreds-of-years parents and my divorced aunt, both sides of the marriage spectrum. Being eighteen and just starting college, thirty sounded like forever away. Having experienced tons of silly teenage relationships, I couldn't imagine liking anyone enough to tether myself to them forever.
It's not like I come from a broken family. My maternal grandparents met at fifteen; my grandpa's paper route took him by my grandma's house and their courtship survived distance and war and culminated in over fifty years of marriage. My paternal grandparents met in high school and were married shortly after graduation, staying together for over fifty years. My grandparents embodied "til death do us part" in a way we rarely see anymore, quite literally staying together until death pulled them apart.
But I didn't get it; I'd been dating since I was fourteen and I knew the butterflies and excitement always went away. How, then, could you be with someone forever? Wouldn't you be bored and trapped and stuck, I wondered? If marriage was so great, why were people telling me to put it off until I was old? For the next few years, I saw marriage as something that ended your life rather than added to it. As a married person, you couldn't travel or spend time with friends. You wouldn't just be you, you'd be so-and-so's wife. Or so I thought.
What I didn't realize was that not only was I wrong, but that marriage is whatever you want it to be. As I moved further into my twenties and started getting into relationships that made sense, I realized that marriage is meant to add to your life. Of course you can travel or spend time with the people in your life, but you have a partner-in-crime with whom to share it. It's about finding someone to go through life with, to grow with. You're still you, you're just sharing yourself with somene you love. Marriage isn't the end of your life, it's another beginning.
And it means making a choice to stay, to commit, to work it out. Once I finally realized marriage isn't a Bad Thing, I then had to accept that a "good marriage" still isn't magic and happiness at all times. I guarantee you that my grandparents' decades of marriage weren't perfect day in and day out; when you are with someone for over five decades, there will be challenges. But when you've chosen a partner you love and want to build a life with, you come together and get through those times.
And then, I imagine, you move back into the happier times. I love the cheesy quote I saw on Facebook that read "Marriage is like having a sleepover every night with your best friend." In a lot of ways, that embodies what I hope for - a marriage full of laughter, adventures, and partnership.
Now that thirty is closer than ever, marriage is a lot less scary. It's become something I look forward to rather than fear. After years of fearing commitment followed by years of unlearning that negative thought process, I know that when I walk down the aisle and say "I do," I'll be ready.
~~~Krys is a twenty-something blogging (sporadically) about life, work, and cancer-causing gene mutations at either eat this soup or jump out of this window. You can find her on Twitter here.