How I stopped obsessing about marriage

My boyfriend and I recently celebrated our six-year anniversary together. After six years, we are more than used to hearing that age-old question: “So, when are you getting married?” I guess that after you’ve been together as long as we have, people naturally assume that a wedding is in the near future. But for us, it’s not, and I’m OK with that. Let me tell you why.

I met my boyfriend shortly after my 21st birthday. We met through mutual friends, and hit it off immediately. After just a couple of months, we were dating and it was wonderful! Once we hit the one-year mark, I started to think that this man could quite possibly be my husband someday.

When he decided to go back to school to earn his second degree, he told me that marriage wasn’t on the table until he had finished. I said that made sense and agreed that waiting until after the madness that is college was over made the most sense.

My boyfriend has never been a huge supporter of marriage in general. His view on the world meant that, for him, marriage was just a piece of paper, and being married was not the ultimate declaration of love. To him, building a life together didn’t mean you had to get married, and being in love didn’t mean that you had to put it on display for a group of people. But he knew how important it was to me, and so he made sure that I knew that when the time came, we would get married.

I never doubted him, but that didn’t stop me from experiencing pangs of envy every time one of my friends got engaged or we were invited to a wedding. I wanted a wedding of my own so badly.

Around about four years of being together, my feelings began to slowly change. As we built a future and a life together, getting married didn’t feel as important or pressing. Yeah, we weren’t husband and wife, but honestly, the title was the only difference between acting like a married couple and actually being married.

I always thought that the ultimate way a partner could show you how much they loved you was by proposing. But slowly, I changed my mind. Yes, maybe I wasn’t engaged like many of my friends, but what was I really missing out on? I had a partner who loved me with all of his heart, who showed me every day that he cared for me, who was always there when I needed him, and who supported me and my happiness more than his own. And, maybe most importantly, we were moving full steam ahead with building a life, together. And at some point, I realized that these were the things that really mattered.

I realized that what I envied wasn’t the relationship at the heart of a wedding, but the glitz and glamor that came with it. What was I really jealous of? The dress, the cake, the venue. All of these things, as nice as they are, seemed so silly when I looked at the man I loved and saw the things we did together and for each other that proved without a doubt that we loved each other more than anything.

Don’t get me wrong, some day I do want a wedding of my own. And what’s right for us certainly isn’t necessarily right for other people. But I guess what I’ve realized is that it doesn’t matter so much if you have that piece of paper, or that party, or that flouncy white dress. What matters is that you feel loved every morning when you wake up, and when you go to sleep, you feel with your entire being that the person lying next to you is the most precious thing in the world to you.

 Someday I will walk down that aisle, towards the man of my dreams and to an amazing future. But for now, the man at my side is that man, even if he isn’t my legally wedded husband yet. 

[Image via iStock]

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