An unconventional look at marriage.
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Marriage is a weird concept to grasp. There are a lot of unknowns.
40–50 percent of couples in the United States end up divorced. Clearly, humans haven’t figured out marriage or this stat wouldn’t be so high. The concept of marriage is a big one for me in 2021.
2021 will be the year I get engaged to my partner.
It feels odd. Am I scared? Absolutely.
These are some thoughts I’ve had as I work through the process. They will help you think about your own relationships.
What Is Extremely Outdated About Getting Engaged.
How do I know I’m getting engaged in 2021? Because I will be the one doing the asking.
The man has to make the engagement move.
This is what feels extremely outdated to me. Could two people not mutually decide to get married? Could a woman not ask a man to get married? The New York Times reported “It’s rare for a woman to propose.”
So much has changed when it comes to romantic relationships. Getting engaged feels like a concept that could use with an upgrade.
I was asked by someone why I’m staying with the traditional engagement approach rather than ditching it. The answer is simple: I’m giving my partner a tradition she wants.
A relationship involves give and take. This is something I want to give her. Otherwise if everything is done my way, then it becomes human slavery, not a healthy relationship.
A Wedding Is a Stage Show for Actors.
A wedding costs a lot of money. To me, it has always felt like a stage show full of actors. You get up on stage and look as happy as you possibly can. You pretend to your friends and family that everything is perfect.
You pretend destiny is your north star.
You can get engaged and end up married without all the fuss. I plan on cutting out a lot of the nonsense. I am not interested in people thinking I found relationship perfection so they can instagram it and hashtag the shit out of it.
I don’t care what instagram thinks. I don’t care about a perfectly prepared meal. I care about the person I’m in love with. Everything else is a sideshow.
Is Living Together Marriage?
I have been living with my partner for a few years. It feels like we’re already married. Every day is marriage — a commitment to each other to be faithful, and be a team who works together for the greater good of our relationship. (It took me years to understand relationships are a team sport.)
The main difference from a novice’s point of view is the paperwork and the potential for a surname change. Maybe there is more to it.
How you act together before marriage is how you will act after marriage.
I try to keep that thought front and center. I try not to see marriage as some miracle that means I’ve arrived and don’t need to put in the hard work anymore. That’s right, relationships are bloody hard work.
You’re attempting to blend together two people’s habits, beliefs, towel collections and hobbies. There’s bound to be something that goes wrong when you go through this process, as I’ve discovered the hard way.
You See Your Friend’s Horror Show Marriages and Hope That Doesn’t Become You.
We’ve all got a friend whose marriage is our nightmare.
I have at least three friends I can think of who’d make Jerry Springer and Dr Phil have a field day with their marriages. I think a lot about these failed relationships. I hope their relationships don’t become my own.
I try to back up that hope with daily action to incrementally improve the bond I have with my partner. I ensure I never give feedback on an empty stomach or when I’m tired. When I have in the past, the outcome has been horrific.
Having bad marriage examples is helpful though. You get an opportunity to document some of the things you never want to bring to your own romantic relationship.
Speak to Happily Married Couples and Learn Their Secrets.
One solution I’ve found to the odd feeling of getting engaged is to talk to happily married couples.
A few couples who I’ve spoken to repeat the same advice: many of their marriages started out rocky. It’s as if they had to find their feet before the marriage began to grow in an upward trajectory.
And each couple I spoke to said the notion of getting engaged made them slightly fearful. After all — you’re committing until death, right?
Surprising insight from happily married couples
These conversations with happily married couples led to this insight: Marriage is a neverending work in progress. Even more surprising: The longer the relationship, the harder it is not to forget this rule.
There Is No Perfect Match.
The notion of a perfect match is a lie.
I have a friend who left their previous partner ten years ago. She is still searching for her perfect match on dating apps. They never seem to appear.
The perfect match isn’t so perfect when you get to know them. You can always find faults. You can always find things you want to improve.
I’ve found the things that annoy me about my partner are actually long-held, false beliefs about the way things should be. Just because I believe everything should be put away in a closet, doesn’t mean that is the noble truth every person must follow to live a good life. My mentor said to me something interesting:
The parts about your partner you dislike in the beginning will become the things you love about them years later in marriage.
Opposites attract. So I’m learning to embrace the opposites.
An Imperfect Realization About Marriage.
As the relationship I have with myself improves, so too does the relationship with my partner.
It’s as if a romantic relationship is a mirror of your inner world.
If you are frustrated with yourself then you’re likely to be frustrated with your partner. So I’ve spent time working on myself. This gives me personal responsibility, which trumps looking for perfection and analyzing woo-woo dating profile attributes.
Any relationship I have with another human being is going to be imperfect. Perhaps that is the beauty.
Getting engaged feels weird. I’m yet to meet anybody who wasn’t afraid of the unknowns you sign up for when you get married.
To never follow your gut instinct feels wrong. Instead of trying to get the perfect partner, I’m going to focus on the woman I love and making her happy. I am going to treat my relationship like a mirror and take a long hard look at myself when things get challenging.
Commitment fear is normal.