The ‘I do’ Taboo

Becoming engaged this past May, I was showered with the expected happiness and excitement from my loved ones wanting to hear every detail of how he popped the question and reminding me that it is never to early to start planning. When the ooh’s and aah’s settled though, I was confronted with other questions from people, questions with a more pessimistic, and some may argue, realistic vibe to them. I was surprised by the audacity of some, letting statements like “you better get a prenup” and “marriage is for simple-minded people who settle” roll off their tongues. These comments did in fact ignite my inner rage at first, but as I thought about it, it mostly made me sad that the view of marriage has become so jaded.

To give you some background information, my fiance and I do not live together, I REPEAT, do not live together. If I am being honest, when it became a reality that we would not live together until we were married, due to his parent’s religious beliefs and his upbringing, I was scared. I for one had already moved across the country to live with a boyfriend, and was an aunt to nieces and nephews from my three older siblings all having their first child before getting married. With this being said, it seemed a bit pointless to wait. As time went on though, I began relishing in the idea that we were being traditional, and in being traditional, we were in fact unique.

Which brings me to the focus of this article. What has happened to the traditions of marriage? When did it become not only acceptable, but expected to find a significant other, decide that you would like to spend the rest of your life with them (or most of it at least), have children and grow old together, but skip the I do’s to make the whole thing official?

For some people, I think it is safe to say they are not so much shying away from marriage, but delaying it until they are financially ready. But in a culture that is fueled by the idea of ‘more, more, more,’ it becomes a difficult task to stop and say “okay, I feel financially stable, I feel ready to take the plunge.” Instead of waiting for a couple to feel financially stable as separate entities, doesn’t it make more sense to reach for the financial stability together? By sharing those initial stresses and struggles, both individuals are invested equally, both emotionally as well as financially. With individuals living with their parents or roommates well into their thirties, chasing their childhood dream and waiting for it to be the right time to start their lives may take forever. And forever is a long time to wait to settle down and marry.

People who are now in their twenties and thirties may not have grown up in happy families, or were raised by a single parent, which may have put a damper on the sanctity of marriage. As a fifteen year old girl, I remember being the odd ball of all my friends with happily married parents, which unfortunately today seems to be the exact opposite. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard someone say, “oh no, I watched how much my parents hated each other, no way am I going through that too.” This is honestly such a sad statement. Despite my parents divorce, I was able to witness the love they had for each other and the family they created together. For those who were not exposed to a successful marriage, know that history does not have to repeat itself. Don’t let this fear deter you from creating a successful marriage of your own.

For the skeptics who believe that marriage is just simply too expensive, it costs $30.00 for a marriage license. You do not have to have an extravagant wedding. If it is the costly divorce that you are foreshadowing, well maybe it is time to step back and re-evaluate your relationship as a whole. Just as it is reckless to drive a car without a license, wouldn’t it be refreshing if people felt the same about marriage?

So to all the folks thinking we are making a mistake by not living together first, believing that “you don’t really know a person until you live with them,” I want to tell you I disagree. I said yes to marrying this person because I love them unconditionally, a love that won’t waver because of some bad habits. I am not naive, I know that marriage is going to take work and open communication, but if you are committed to doing work day in and day out, then you are ready, whether you get that “test run” of co-habitation or not.