About this time one year ago, I published an article about marriage, love, and what it feels like to have the partner of your dreams, but not be ready for marriage. Yes, I argued, it's possible to have a wonderful partner whom you adore and respect, with whom you want to spend your entire life, and not be ready for the legality of it all. I'm still not married one year later, and still berated with the same condescending questions and misogynistic opinions. Did the article help extend my personal views about my personal needs in my personal relationship as a means to stop the judgmental views of others? No. In fact it did the opposite; I received hate mail to my personal inbox and a plethora of mean comments on the article itself. While this overjoyed my best friend ("You got actual hate mail? That's legit!"), it disparaged me at the time and continues to do so. My words did nothing to educate others who believe that because I'm in love and because I'm of a certain age, my consent and personal views don't matter because I simply should be married. To them, it's the right thing to do, and not doing so is hurtful and disrespectful to my partner, despite the fact that he's not ready either. Not a single commenter inquired about my partner's feelings on marriage or even my article. However, they did have these choice words to say, so in the name of feminism I feel a compulsion to put this sh*t on blast:
"Stop looking at marriage as a life-long committmet" (yes, he misspelled commitment)
"If he asked you and you said no you are not worth being married." ....I just can't with this one, honestly.
"I think you're selfish." Well, thanks for that!
"Why don't you both get engaged? That way you'll both be showing your committment while still gaining some time to sort out the details." Wait...what?? And again with commitment. If you can't spell it, you probably shouldn't discuss it.
"I wouldn't be cavalier about age when it comes to having children, either....Man and woman are created to be interdependent. Don't fight it." For the record, I'm 29...not 59, but who's counting (besides this lady?)
In any case, here it is in all it's glory, save the comments. But if you really want to read those afterward, just head here.
I Found ‘The One’ But I’m Not Ready For Marriage
“If he asked you tomorrow, what would you say?” they always ask.
“I’d say no” I reply. But they don’t believe me.
I’m approaching 30, and I’ve been dating him for over half a decade. We’ve lived in four cities together, and we share our home, our creative work and our dreams with each other. He’s the one, and I plan to marry him. But not today. And even after all the progress we’ve made in the name of women’s independence, I’m still shamed for it.
One total stranger even said “Well, if you’ve been together that long and still not ready to marry the guy, something must be really wrong.” And actually, he’s right. Something is really wrong: I’m not where I want to be emotionally or professionally yet.
I see marriage as the collaboration of two complete, fulfilled people to form a third entity together. I’m not that whole person yet. I still have work to do in the way of realizing personal peace, reaching professional goals, and defining the morals upon which I’ll set my compass for the rest of my life.
Yes I know I’ll still be an individual and my own person when I’m married, but I’ll have promised a part of my life — namely, my future — to someone else. I value him enough to be relentless about the quality of the partner I offer him. It’s because I love and respect him so much, I’m not willing to promise my future until I have that future on a constructive, stable and personally fulfilling trajectory. I won’t subject him to the possibility of me becoming dependent on his love for validation.
This is about me being my best for us both, and an arbitrary rush to the alter for age or social status is simply not as important as my potential.
The median age of marriage has pushed back to 27 for women today, giving people like me more time to finish degrees, establish careers and identity, and consciously set parameters for our own comfort. But it’s also giving us essential time to groom ourselves within a relationship after we’ve found the right partner. In other words, you can date a dude for years and improve as you go until, apparently, you reach my age or the five year mark and people shame you again.
If there is such thing as a “one,” I’m certain he is it. He fuels me creatively, supports me emotionally, empowers me intellectually, and thrills me socially. He’s my best friend, and I’m still butterfly-inducing crazy about him. He helps me be a better person, not just a better girlfriend. And the more I improve as a person, the more I realize there might be no such thing as “the one.”
“The one” implies need and scarcity; that without finding this very specific person in the entire planet, we’ll miss out on a key factor of our purpose. The idea of “the one” only limits me. It doesn’t help me be confident in why I choose to marry someone, it takes away my ability to see him as he really is. If he’s “the one,” he has to fit all the definitions of perfection I have right now. Those definitions evolve as I watch him evolve. If instead I allow him to be himself, I can love him as he evolves. I can support him as he changes without resenting him for not meeting my expectations.
As he helps me become my best self, I realize that if I’m strong enough, self-sufficient enough, and true to myself, I could love anyonebecause I don’t need someone to balance me or fix me. I choose to love him, which gives me freedom and power, not neediness and dependency.
But here’s the most important part of this equation that most people miss: he isn’t going to propose because he knows I’m not ready. It’s called communication, and it’s vital. He understands that if I’m not ready, we’re not ready. A great partner (and great friends, hint hint) will work with you in our relationship not just for you, and should respect your needs not judge them.
Speaking of judgment, don’t even get me started on what they say when I tell them:
“I’ll propose to him when I’m ready.”