As I am only three weeks away from getting married, I am reflecting on what marriage really means to me.
When I first announced that I was getting married to my friends and family, they were a mixed of shocked and excited. Obviously, they were excited because I have found someone that I want to spend my life with, and that’s super exciting! But they were shocked because Brighton and I had only been dating for about a year before we got engaged. Some friends suggested that we wait before we took the plunge. Their point of view was: if you found the right person, why rush it? There’s no harm waiting.
By the same token, my opinion was the complete opposite: if I found the right person, why would I wait?! I want to make it official!
Cohabitation vs. Marriage
For many people my age, cohabitation and marriage are viewed as the same idea. I could see their point of view, and in a way I agree that in some ways you are sharing a space and a life together.
But the other part of me disagrees. Sure, you can live together, and why change a good thing if you’re happy with your relationship. But for me, I want to publicly announce that I am part of a unit with my husband. I want to announce it to everyone: my family, my friends, his family, his friends, the government, our workplaces, the IRS, social media, my blog, and pretty much everywhere else I forgot in this list!
Marriage symbolizes many different things that cohabitation just doesn’t include. It means hard work to keep the relationship strong. It means you just can’t call it quits anytime, because you’re legally bound. This may sound negative, but I think it’s actually a positive. While more than 50% of all marriages nowadays end in divorce, I want to beat that statistic!
Why not elope?
Brighton and I aren’t particularly religious, but it was important to us to have a wedding. I know that many people fantasize about the wedding, but don’t consider the marriage itself. I am not one of those people. Yes, I love planning beautiful events, and I love having epic photos and a great time. But in the end, for me, our wedding is about the celebration of our marriage, and not the big white dress, the party, or the even the photos. It’s about having all of our loved ones come together to support our marriage, and witness our vows to each other.
We discussed eloping when we first got engaged. The idea of spending any amount of money on a wedding is a little daunting. We love traveling, and with what we are spending on the wedding, we could have a pretty awesome trip. But we didn’t want to regret not having a real ceremony, with our support system there to celebrate with us. I wanted to be able to look back and not regret not having a wedding. This is a really big life event, and I didn’t want to just half-ass it with regrets later. So, with that being said, we are doing the whole shebang! White dress, big party, bridesmaids and groomsmen, as many friends and family we could get to Florida on our date— Everything!. And it’s going to be great. Why? Because I get to make a promise to my best friend to be his partner for life. And that’s really exciting!
Am I Too Young?
Right now I live in a state where almost everyone gets married young. It’s pretty much expected that you are married by 21. In fact, the place where women get married the youngest is Utah. I am still pretty young in relative terms, but I have graduated college, moved away from home, and joined the workforce. I feel like I have made personal strides where I can feel confident as an individual.
On the other end of the spectrum, in Florida where I grew up, it’s becoming more and more common that people don’t get married until their late 20s-early 30s and beyond! More people are putting focus on their careers before getting married and starting a family. I’m not ready to start a family yet, but I don’t see why you can’t be married and focus on your career, whatever that may be. In my immediate friend group, I am the first to be getting married. I have some friends who are in long-term relationships, but I feel like the first of my best friends to get married. It does feel a little weird when I look at it like that, but it still feels right. I’m a strong believer in following your gut feelings, and that’s what I’m going to do.
Three Entities: Hilary, Brighton, and Hilary & Brighton.
I think that many people end up getting married before they are able to identify themselves as an individual and what happens sometimes is that they lose themselves in the “we” before there’s a “you” and “me.” If both parties in the relationship have a firm sense of identity before the marriage, then there’s a strong possibility for success. Brighton knew who he was in his career, hobbies, and goals before he met me. While I had not been in the workforce very long before we were engaged, I’ve had a pretty strong sense of direction for my career and sense of self since I was in high school. I feel strong as an individual.
A coworker gave us some great marriage advice recently. He said, “Make sure you both have time for yourselves, and don’t lose what makes you happy individually.” He mentioned that in his marriage, their relationship as a unit suffered because both individuals, him and his wife, didn’t have a sense of self and individual hobbies as individuals.
Brighton and I are very different. We have opposite end of the spectrum interests and goals. I like to hike, be outdoors, and be very active. Brighton likes to play video games, learn programming, and relax. But together, we make a great team! I am the one that can’t sit still or stay in one place too long that craves adventure, and he’s the one that will calm me down and make me be more rational and logical about my dreams. He is the calm and collected driver, and I am the navigator, co-pilot, and DJ.
The Goal is Interdependence
To summarize, marriage means a lot of different things to me. It’s interdependence, not co-dependence or independence.
Interdependence: An interdependent relationship is where both partners are mutually reliant on each other. It is a safe bond where partners can rely on each other but also maintain their autonomous identity. (Source)
It’s a partner in all walks of life. It’s not quitting when life gets tough.
It’s communicating to come to a mutual decision, even when that decision is a compromise for both parties.
It’s more than sharing a living space or the bills. It’s sharing the same hardships and successes— together.
It’s learning from each other, because we both still have so much to learn in life. It’s growing together, not apart.