I have been married and divorced. I was married at 21 and divorced at 28. I have been divorced for 11 years and been through a lot of dating in that time. I have been in a relationship for almost two years now with a man that I am pretty crazy about. With that being said, I realize that my thoughts on relationships have changed drastically over the years. Through my experience I have learned a lot about myself and what it really means to love someone. I used to think that marriage was the ultimate and final expression of love. A way of saying…I choose you over everyone else and now you are officially mine! To have someone love you enough to make that claim seemed so romantic to me when I was younger. Now that I have grown older I am not so sure I look at marriage the same way.
Do you really think marriage is important in life or do you believe people give it too much meaning? I have been back and forth in this fight with myself for a while. I think the real reason most people rush to be married is because there is some insecurity in the relationship. It reminds me of women who get pregnant to keep the guy. They think if we can just get married then it is a done deal and we can relax in knowing that it is official, but we all know that is not really true. If there are insecurities and issues within a relationship a baby or pushing through a big fancy wedding with all the family and friends is not going to make those issues and insecurities go away.
I do not believe marriage is just a piece of paper and it does drive me crazy when I hear people say this. I know if I ever do marry again it will have a very deep and special meaning. However, if I don’t marry again it doesn’t scare me. The thought of monogamous and committed relationship with a man I love is enough for me. I think if a person needs marriage to feel complete in a relationship then there are probably underlying issues. I also feel that if a person is strictly against marriage there are also some underlying issues that need to be addressed. There should be this relaxed vibe about marriage.
A person should not feel anxiety about the idea of marriage. If you feel your are giving up a part of yourself or losing something in the process then you need to re-evaluate yourself and your relationship. If you have dated the appropriate amount of time and went through all the basic steps of meeting each others family and friends then there should be a comfort between the two of you. There should be standards met, any deal breakers, like drugs or alcohol issues or lying and cheating should be obvious concerns but also must haves should be equally important. I wanted a strong relationship with a man who has a faith and belief in God, a great sense of humor, financial security, honesty, and a kindness and compassion for others(unselfish). Always stick to the standards you set for yourself, do not lower them for anyone.
Once you are dating a person do not be afraid to address things that bother you early on in the process because if you ignore them they will only get worse. There were certain little things that my guy did and it took me a bit before I was bold enough to bring them up. I waited things out and observed how he was with others to see if it was just me or just his personality in general. Once I was fully aware and took the time to assess the reasons why he may behave a certain way, I then felt more confident in how to approach talking to him about it. It is vital to understand that a big part of dating is communication but how you say things is equally important. My guy is a man of few words so communication has been a challenge for me at times.
I often feel I am playing a one sided game of twenty questions:
Me: Oh you are going out of town to see a friend? Who is this friend?
Me: *Patiently waiting for him to elaborate on who Jeff is and how he knows him*
I went on to ask how he knows him, how long they have been friends, why haven’t I heard his name in the time we have been dating? If I had been talking to a girlfriend all of that information would have naturally flowed in conversation without me asking all the questions. I have learned that some of this is simply the difference between men and women and that some of this is just his personality.
In my younger years this process would have been very frustrating to me and also made me feel a bit insecure in the relationship. If he wanted me to know more he would tell me and why doesn’t he want to tell me, what does he have to hide? I shouldn’t feel like I am being the nosey, nagging girlfriend asking all these questions. What it comes down to is that loving someone is a choice and each day you decide to continue asking the questions and working towards knowing and loving each other a little more. But even more important is the acceptance of who they are and not trying to change them. Then there may come a point when you decide to make an investment in that individual as a full on partner. I believe that is what marriage is, a financial investment, usually with people who want to buy a home together and raise kids. My guy and I each have our own homes and we are not planning on raising any children together. So any investment we make together will be more of an investment of pleasure and support of each other as individuals, a combination of life just to simplify things.
We will have date nights, family time during the holidays, travel together, work together and be there for each other when we are sick or struggling. We attend church together and share the same interests. We have come together as a couple in a different point in our lives. There is no major pressure of major financial stress or raising kids. The investment we make in each other will be one built more on trust, support, and kindness; I agree to not take what you have worked so hard for up to this point in life and I agree to be there for you in sickness and health. We love Cardinals baseball, hiking, playing bad golf, traveling to new places, we like the same music, being outdoors, spending time with friends, going to the beach, cooking together, drinking good wine and working hard to be able to enjoy all those things. Do I believe we have what it takes to have a long lasting relationship, yes I do….and in the end that is really all that matters.
So in conclusion, my idea of what a relationship should be is obviously not the same for everyone. I think it depends on many factors from age to kids to financial status. I understand why I felt marriage was important at certain points in my life but my life has drastically changed in the past 11 years. At this point it has become more personal, strictly between two people who have lived a lot of life already. I think by this time in life we are both pretty clear on what we want out of life and I believe we both want many of the same things…. someone to share experiences with and someone who will be our go to person when times get hard. In the words of Meredith and Christina on Grey’s Anatomy….He is my person.
To love, happiness, health and growth!