Part One: Marriage
As a young girl, I would idly daydream of my future love life: At 13, I would have a boyfriend; at 16, I would experience my first “true-love” kiss; and, by 25, I would be married to a handsome man, we would have two adoring children and live in a white colonial style home with navy shutters and a matching white picket fence. Fast-forward to present day 30-year-old me, living in a stucco/grey-green siding home with my common-law partner, childless and broke. Does present me envy the past ideals I had for my future? Definitely not. But, would past me be embarrassed of my nontraditional life? Probably.
Being a late bloomer, I was nowhere near ready for those wedding bells at 25; I was still learning how to live on my own while balancing work and school along with a roller-coaster of emotions and different medications that came with all of those mixed feelings. Maybe if Mr. Right came into my life earlier I would have been ready, but he didn’t, and I’m glad of that because I wouldn’t have been ready for him. At 25, I was learning who I was and who I wanted to be, while learning what I wanted mentally, emotionally and physically in a life partner. However, and contrary to the teachings of my upbringing, by my twenties I knew I wanted to live with my partner before marriage, thereby equating my relationship status as common-law in the eyes of the government, and a heathen to others.
Are common-law relationships lesser because there is no paper professing their love; is a couple ‘bad’ because they haven’t institutionalized their “I dos”? To some, maybe, but to the common-law couple they may be, and probably are, blissfully content with their current relationship. There is something wildly romantic about a love that it doesn’t need a binding document proclaiming “I’m taken” to the rest of the world; a love that transcends the conventional “do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife” jargon. However, on the opposite spectrum, there is beauty in promising eternity to your partner in front of the ones you love. Togetherness, whether sanctioned by the Church, or promised to one another silently is beautiful and should not require explanation or reasoning for the actions a couple commits.
Don’t misinterpret my marriage / wedding views, as those are still tantamount to 10 year old me (I have a secret wedding Pinterest board, and get girlishly giddy discussing wedding plans with friends), but what I am arguing is that there is no ideal age to marry and have children. Marriage and children, or the latter before the former, should be an organic transition in a relationship, not something that is done because one is suppose to or because everyone else is doing it.
There may not be a ring, the last names may differ, but to that couple, they have promised each other their own form of “I dos” which may differ from the norm, but to that couple, their current relationship status is perfect, which is all that matters.
Stay tuned for Part Two, released on Friday, March 17.