Y’all. Y’all. It’s time for a Very Special Guest Entry, because Sarah, of Yes and Yes, has weighed in on something of terrific importance.
In case you’re not familiar with Yes and Yes, it’s like this blog, except funnier, more consistent and with better travel tips. Recently, Sarah released the Post-College Survival Kit; this entry is but one star in that glittering galaxy. Highly recommended. Anyway. Sarah?
So you’ve been with your lover/partner/girl/boyfriend for a few years. You live together, you attend company barbecues together, you wear sweatpants in each others’ company. Everybody you know is getting married, and now you kind of want to. But your mister/miss isn’t that keen. A few steps to sort that business out.
1. Have a good think about why you want to get married
Are you ready to start a family? Do you need concrete evidence that they’re committed to building a future with you? Are all your friends getting married?
If all your friends are getting married, have a really, really, REALLY big think before you start pressuring your partner. Almost everything in life is socially contagious and if all your friends are walking down the aisle, it’s easy to swept up in the wedding fever. How would you feel about marriage if none of your friends were married?
It’s also worth noting that if you’re living together, that’s pretty good evidence that they’re committed to you and a future with you. Unless you moved in together mostly for financial and convenience reasons. Thaaaat’s a whole different post.
2. Talk about it. Directly, straight-forwardly. Preferably without crying or yelling.
Is it possible to talk about stuff like this without crying? Probably. Is it easy to distance yourself emotionally for this topic? No. But you can try.
How about something like this:
"So let’s talk about what’s going on here. We’ve been together for ________, clearly this thing is for real. What’s going to happen to us in a few years time? Do you want to buy a house? Do you want kids? I think we should talk about where we see this going."
3. Hang out with some people who have been married for 15+ years
And talk to them about the reality of being married. When I asked the 15+ers in my life about marriage, they said things like “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.” “Sometimes you will hate them. Sometimes you will look at them and think you made a huge mistake.” “You will make enormous compromises about things you swore you’d never compromise on.”
Of course, they also said “I get to hang out with my best friend every day, for the rest of my life!” “He makes me a better person.” “I can’t imagine my life without her; she’s my family.”
But it’s really important to understand the reality of BEING WITH SOMEONE UNTIL YOU DIE before you decide to start pressuring your sweet 22-year-old lover into that.
4. Resist the urge to give an ultimatum
Or at least realize that giving an ultimatum could very easily result in a break up. Make your needs known to your partner, but don’t paint them into a corner. If they know what you want and they’re unwilling to give it to you, you probably have your answer.
5. Realize that there are extenuating circumstances in every relationship. But some of them are BS.
Maybe his dad has been married three times. Maybe she, herself, is divorced. Maybe he’s 22 and really does want to sow his wild oats. There are innumerable reasons why someone doesn’t want to settle down. Some of those reasons are valid. But (in my humble opinion) many of them are excuses - from both parties.
One time, I dated a guy for three months and when I moved to New Zealand, he quit his job and moved there with me. Another time, I dated a guy for three months, he got a job in DC and broke up with me. Different people are willing to make different sacrifices. If you find the right person, they’ll want to meet you in the middle.