My parents met just after college. My mother’s childhood best friend had been dating one of my dad’s fraternity brothers. To this day, those brothers are like uncles to me, and all of the kids have grown up together. And there, my dears, lies the foundation of my complete disillusionment.
I had a high school sweetheart. We dated on an off for four or five years. We talked about marriage, but only in the way that kids do when they first fall in love. Then I went off to college confident that I would meet my husband within seconds of my arrival to campus and we would vacation with each other’s families and take adorable pictures at our Greek functions and graduation. Mind you, I was 17 when I started college. Thus began my long string of failed relationships. I began to panic when I reached the end of my sophomore year and had yet to have a “boyfriend” for longer than a few months. What was I doing wrong? I should be halfway to engagement according to my calculations. How was my future husband going to propose to me at graduation in our matching cap and gowns with a bouquet of stargazer lilies if he didn’t hurry up and get here? The stress was real.
I started dating my current boyfriend, Benjamin, in October of 2012, with no intention of it becoming what it is today. He was far from what I had envisioned for myself, sporting a buzz cut, pierced ears, a tattoo, and a Long Island accent. He was a bit shy where I was obnoxiously loud, and he preferred to go mudding whereas I enjoyed polo matches. Never the less, we became inseparable. In May of 2013 we got our puppy, Emma, and that summer spent two weeks at a beach house with his parents and three brothers. As the fall approached, Ben and I were forced to consider the fact that I would be graduating that year, and he would still have one more year of college. Cue wedding commentary.
Our friends began making jokes about how we were going to get married, and my parents began to ask how our relationship was going to play into my career path etc. The year began, and we unofficially lived together with our dog, already cozying up to the routine. Everything was going swell, until some of our other couple friends began to get engaged and others having children. So one night, as we were lying in bed, I asked Ben how he felt about it all. I knew I was the first girl he had dated for this long, but I was curious if he too had planned out his future prior to meeting me. My timeline had long since been disposed of, and I had adopted a new-found sense of acceptance that my life, love and otherwise, would unfold at some point, and it was not to be planned as I had originally attempted.
How do you have a conversation about marriage with your significant other? I was afraid that my avoidance of the topic of “forever” had been a tad insulting to Ben over the years. I by no means meant to imply an impending doom to our relationship, I explained, I just simply had no interest in putting pressure on something that was already working. As I write this, I find myself sounding like Big from Sex and the City. He expressed his opinion that it was not about the years spent with that person, but rather the instinct that kicks in when you find “the one.” I agreed, still nauseous from the subject matter, and rolled over to my side of the bed. I do love you, I said. He reached over for my hand and squeezed it three times (our sign for I love you), and so the conversation ended.
Talking about marriage can be an incredibly difficult conversation to have with your significant other. You might be afraid of not being on the same page, or simply scared of marriage as a whole. For me, I was scared because nothing had gone according to plan. I didn’t know how to approach marriage from any other angle than a college set-up followed by reunions and fraternity / family beach trips. Without my map in front of me, I had no idea how to handle anything. Thankfully, Ben understands the mess that is my brain, and the awkwardness of the conversation was soon forgotten.
For those of you attempting to address the big M, just be honest. Even if your partner is disappointed by your response, at least he or she wont be misguided and ultimately more disappointed by being so.