For some reason, people believe if he hasn't proposed after two years together, it's time to rush him into doing it. Wrong. I've seen friends and strangers get engaged after no more than eight months together. They've married after less than two years together.
I sit there and think, "Thank god that's not me." Perhaps it's thanks to my dark past, with divorced parents and screwed-up grandparents. But, I count myself lucky that my boyfriend and I – despite being together longer than all of our friends and even some family – aren't racing down the aisle.
At every wedding, there is a special song the DJ dedicates to all the couples, in order to highlight the powerful nature of love and marriage. The song starts with all the couples. In the next two to four minutes, an unspoken competition for who's been together the longest occurs. When two elderly couples are left dancing in each other's wrinkled arms, smiles break out across the room as everyone raves about the power of love.
The really fun part of this song, though, is during the first 30 to 45 seconds. The younger couples, engaged or not, are kicked out year by year. In the past year, my boyfriend and I have been to quite a few weddings. Looking back, we have always lasted longer than the bride and groom, and we aren't even engaged yet. (Cue spontaneous laughter here.)
At every wedding, we have been asked about when we'll get engaged. Every time, we laugh and reply we aren't in a rush. Our relationship has lasted the longest, but chances are, we will be some of the last to walk down that aisle.
I like it that way. In fact, I love it that way.
At times, my boyfriend thinks I'm going to be the stereotypical 25-year-old girl who's in a relationship of more than two years (you know, the one who's always itching for a ring). But when this happens, I laugh and tell him the following: “Honey, I'm OK with us taking our time. Heck, by the time we get married, our friends will be exhausted at home with two kids, while we'll be drinking frothy margaritas on a beach in Mexico.”
He likes this vision, too. We love each other. We do. We want to marry each other and have kids someday. We've even already talked about names. (Well, argued, but still.) So, if we love each other and have the same future in mind, why aren't we racing down the altar to catch up with our friends yet?
1. Now is the time to travel and see the world.
In four or five years, there will be little greedy munchkins in our lives. We will love them, of course, but there will also be moments when we question why we wanted kids in the first place.
They are messy, hard work. Kids are never-ending responsibilities that require constant supervision, and they are expensive. So, in our minds, our 20s is the time to see the world. We want to travel to the far beaches of Australia, eat pasta in Rome and do absolutely nothing but drink on a white sandy beach in the Caribbean.
2. Weddings are expensive.
We are 25. We've barely been out of college for more than three years. Between both of us needing new cars, paying rent in two separate cities and all the other basic living necessities (food, beer and the gym), paying for a wedding is so not something we want to do right now.
Pile on the additional costs of flying or driving to see each other and attend our friends' weddings, and our own future plans are even further off. We are still relatively new to our careers, and now is the time to save money for the future. By waiting to get married right now, we are setting ourselves up with a strong economic foundation so that when we do walk down that aisle, we can have our cake and eat it, too.
3. We are both chasing our dreams and building our careers.
I'm a writer, and he's in marketing management. I work in the health industry. He works in the beer industry.
Right now, we are pushing each other to chase our individual dreams and goals. The biggest part of why we aren't leaping toward a Jared store right now is because we have goals we want to accomplish alone before we are ready to tackle goals together.
Our careers are fast-paced, exciting, challenging and take up a ton of our time. This results in less time spent together during some months. But we are OK with that for now because we know we are setting ourselves up for success in the future. When you're young, you should establish your career and focus on building your future.
4. We have the flexibility and freedom to create ourselves.
When you're in a relationship, you become two parts of a whole. When you get married, you become even more mixed.
There is always the risk that within the one larger entity you create, you could lose the individual half that is unequivocally just you. You make sacrifices and compromises, and it's often to a greater degree when you're married. This can ultimately limit your ability to create and define who you are as a person.
Your 20s are a time to grow, change and challenge yourself in every way you can. By not marrying yet, we remain open to having the flexibility and freedom to pursue what we need for comprehensive self-knowledge and identification. We are still two separate beings in the relationship.
Our last names do not match yet, and right now, we like that. We like that our differences help us grow, adapt and innovate each day. One day, we will come together and merge every piece of us. But for now, the heady feeling of independence and self-discovery is too valuable.
5. We want to be sure.
I have divorced parents, and he has elder half-siblings. We both have families that aren't picture-perfect, and we've seen our fair shares of fights, divorce, etc. Every couple is different when it comes to the decision regarding the right amount of time that needs to pass before marriage. But for us, big changes (moving together, living together, etc.) are always laced with a thread of caution.
We want to know it's not a mistake. We want to know that not only do we want to last long-term, but also that we can. We want to deal with the good times, the bad times, the easy times and the really hard times. Because if we can't handle them now, we won't be able to handle them later. We want to be sure of ourselves and each other.
So, although I write this from my second-story balcony while overlooking a covered pool and freshly greening park, I imagine I'm writing this from a sand-dusted beach chair on a beach in Nice, France. Or maybe Spain?
Who knows? I have all the time in the world, and there's no rush.