There’s an article going around, titled “Recently Married Man Finds Out Marriage is Not For Him”, or something similar, trying to get people to click on it, horrified. Once you read it, you discover, however, that the title was a humorous play on words and that this Recently Married Man discovered that marriage is not For Him, but rather for his wife, to make her happy and whatnot. You read the article and leave the page with a warm feeling inside, happy that this young man didn’t actually consider divorce or anything, or come to any large nontraditional conclusions. It’s a great article; it’s well written, both grammatically and stylistically. It tells the beautiful story of a young man discovering the depth of love, how it expands beyond one’s own wants and extends into the heart and mind of your spouse. But it scares me.
It scares me because so many people continue to share it. So many people repeatedly post it – it’s all I’ve seen on my Newsfeed for weeks now. This means that obviously many people agree with it, and want others to agree with it as well.
So what happens when all these people, all these Facebook friends who clearly agree with one another, watch me grow up and get older? What happens if I decide not to get married? What if I become a Recently Engaged (or perhaps even Perpetually Single) Woman who decides that marriage is Not For Her?
I have always felt independent, so much so that I basically raised myself. All of my ambition and drive comes from within, and most of my thought and conversation is with myself, however strange that may seem. I am perfectly fine, and happy, being on my own. Because of this, I have found relationships simultaneously welcome (because it gives me someone else to focus on) and difficult (because I love my alone time, and don’t understand sometimes when someone else wants me to be with them). I have spent a lot of time thinking about what this entails for my romantic future. I don’t know for sure what it means, but it could very easily mean that marriage is, truly, not for me.
Honestly, I am scared that when the time comes that all of my friends begin to get engaged and get married and begin having families of their own, it will become increasingly obvious that I have chosen to refrain. I will be the only one on Facebook without a picture of an engagement ring, the only one whose profile picture is still of me and not of my progeny. But that should never make me feel any less important than my married peers. Regardless of how wonderful Recently Married Man’s sacrifice was for his new spouse, my decision to remain on my own, if I do make that decision, is also important. My decision not to pass on my DNA to create adorable children is still an equally exciting and critical decision.
The point I am bringing up is that there seems to be a ridiculously heavy pressure on people my age (i.e. college-aged young adults) to begin thinking about marriage, and what marriage truly means. I read often, and hear often, from family members and their friends, that marriage is a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly, that marriage involves a life-long sacrifice for someone you truly love. So what if I am never ready for it? It might seem immature to choose to remain on my own, but it seems equally immature, to me, to begin a life with someone, and bring new life into the world, because of societal pressure to do so.
So, to all the people sharing this article and marveling at the beauty of marriage: you are not wrong; marriage IS beautiful. But there is also absolutely nothing wrong with me living a life on my own, or with anyone else doing the same. Marrying someone, truly committing your life to one other person, takes a lot of courage. It also takes a lot of courage to come to the conclusion that you can be happy on your own. So as you read this article about marriage and marvel at the cute play of words that is its title, remember that for some of us, perhaps marriage truly is Not For Us. Perhaps I am happy on my own. Perhaps that is perfectly, beautifully okay.
And to all of my peers that are reading this article: remember it. Remember that marriage is something that should be a critical, important decision, and not something to be taken lightly. While it does involve staying with your love for the rest of your lives, and having a stable structure into which to bring children, it is also a commitment. If you’re not ready for the commitment, if you’re not ready to make that decision, don’t commit. Don’t decide yet. Wait. Do whatever makes you genuinely happy, regardless of the articles making the rounds on Facebook. It is perfectly okay to wait to get married. It is also okay to never be married. It is equally as exciting and nerve-wracking and crucial to decide that you are perfectly happy on your own.