It’s really not fair how much pressure we feel these days as young adults. We’re pressured by our friends, families and society in general. It’s enough to make us crazy. Heck, it’s at least enough to turn us into Netflix-watching hermits who never leave the house.
For me, I faced a lot of pressure growing up in a Catholic family. There were rules… there were specific ways of doing things.
But as I grew up, I realized that a lot of those rules just didn’t make sense to me. At that point, I had to make choices for myself. And some of those choices, my family wasn’t really happy about.
Sure, it was a struggle at first, but in the end, I like to think that my family respected me for being able to stand on my own and pursue the things I wanted, like moving in with my boyfriend.
I did things for myself, not for anyone else, and I've never been happier.
Here’s my story.
Growing up, the rules were simple. Find a boy you like, fall in love, get married, move in together, have babies -- in that specific order. That was just something you didn’t argue.
And for a long time, I was OK with this picture because I figured that my life would just automatically work out that way.
But it didn’t. I was just about to turn 23 and I had been dating my boyfriend for a year and a half. My parents loved him, I loved him, and so I guess you can say that things were pretty serious.
At that point, I knew that our next step was for us to move in together. We weren’t ready to get married, but for the sake of our relationship, we owed it to ourselves to live in the same place and to actually live our lives together.
I don’t know how to explain it, really, other than to say that I knew in my heart that it would be for the best. I made that decision not on a whim, not as a child, but as an adult who was thinking from a practical perspective, from a financial perspective and from an emotional perspective, too. It’s what I wanted. On every level.
But it wasn’t an easy decision to make.
There was my family to consider. I love all of them, obviously, so when they’re chasing me around the house telling me what a bad Catholic I am, that’s not really all that fun. But I’m used to it by now because I’m the oldest of three kids. Yay, for being the oldest sibling!
So sure, when I brought this up, they dealt with it in different stages. First, denial. “There’s no way you’re moving in with him.”
For my parents, there was the issue of what the rest of my family would think. How could their daughter, who had gone to Catholic school since 7th grade, be moving in with her boyfriend? What kind of failures would they be seen as?
I got a lecture about how much money had been wasted putting me through Catholic school.
I got a lecture about how no one pays for a cow when the milk is free.
I got print-outs of all the statistics about how people who live together first never get married.
But I still didn’t care. I knew what I wanted.
Now, let me just say that it’s not that I didn’t love my parents. Believe me, I have the best parents anyone could ever ask for. They’ve supported me through some major low points in my life and have helped me through so much. So I wasn’t in any way trying to hurt them. They’re awesome.
And it’s not that I hated God and Jesus because Jesus is my homeboy. I’m actually really spiritual and I pray all the time. I believe in Christianity and being nice to other people and living a good life. I’m just not a huge fan of organized religion. But I respect Catholicism and I respect anyone who practices his or her faith that way. It’s just not 100 percent for me.
And, finally, let me just clarify that it’s not that I never wanted to get married. It’s not like I was like, “Well, I don’t want to get married, so the heck with it! We’ll just move in together!” I believe in marriage. I think marriage is a beautiful, beautiful thing. But I don’t think that living together with someone prohibits that from happening. Some relationships work out, and others don’t. It doesn’t matter whether or not you live with someone first.
So I voiced my opinions to my parents. I explained to them in the most reasonable of ways that I loved my boyfriend and he loved me and that I was in an extremely healthy relationship. As a parent, what more could they ask for?
After having some time to think things over, my parents were surprisingly more supportive than I ever thought possible. Sure, they had their concerns, like any parent would, but they were supportive and optimistic and I appreciated their friendship more than I ever had before.
Today, I’m happier than I’ve ever been. Having lived with my boyfriend this past year has been the absolute best experience. Our relationship is stronger than ever and it gets so much better every day. He’s my best friend in the whole world and he’s my partner. He’s the guy I go buy groceries with and the guy who helps me with the laundry.
We clean our apartment together. We nap together. We stay up until 3 am catching up on "Hell's Kitchen." We travel together. We laugh at the stupidest of things. He gets me and I get him and that bond that we’ve built would not have been possible had we not taken that big step a year ago. We make an amazing team.
So would I do anything differently? Absolutely not.
Although my decision wasn’t the easiest for other people to accept, it was the best one I’ve made so far. Like I said in the beginning, I knew in my heart that it was the right thing to do. Maybe not according to my parents at the time and maybe not according to the priests at my old schools, but it was the right thing for me, and at the end of the day, that’s what really matters.
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