I recently celebrated my ten year anniversary with Phill. Where did that time go?! I think it’s a good sign that I feel the years have flown by. To celebrate we went out for dinner, but the bigger celebration is the fact we’re expecting out first baby this year.
In a way I suppose we’ve grown up together – matured and become ‘adults’ together as we manoeuvred the relationship and career journeys simultaneously. When we first met I was mid-way through my university degree and Phill had just left college. We were pretty inseparable from the get-go and thankfully both our families fully accepted our relationship and supported it whole-heartedly.
Soon I was searching for my first graduate job and Phill had set up his first business with a college friend. It wasn’t long before we were going on our first big holiday together to Boston and I remember being worried in case two weeks together in a big city would take it’s toll on us, especially since we still hadn’t experienced living with each other full-time. But we had the best holiday ever…although of course there were quibbles and disagreements! Looking back, Boston was the start of our love for holidays and travel and we’ve always been in agreement that spending money on such things is important to us.
Fast forward a few more years and we’re ready to become home owners together. A big leap, but at this stage we’ve been together almost five years. The first few months were stressful as we done up parts of the house, started paying bills and managing our finances together…but we survived! We still live in the same house and have made a lot of changes and renovations in that time. And soon we’ll be thinking about decorating the nursery, which of course will be exciting.
In all of our ten years together, not once have we seriously thought about getting married. Both of us have always said it’s not something we’re interested in, and as time goes on this doesn’t look like it’s going to change. And we can’t ‘blame’ our parents for this as both sets have been married for a long long time! Yet, I have not grown up dreaming about the moment when the man I love goes down on bended knee, nor have I fantasised about a white dress. From a young age I remember telling people I wasn’t going to get married. Maybe it has a lot to do with the fact my parents didn’t romanticise marriage or put any sort of expectation on me with regards having a wedding and walking me down the isle.
That’s not to say I’m not a romantic. My favourite movies are classic romcoms like ‘When Harry Met Sally’, ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ and ‘You’ve Got Mail’. All Nora Ephron movies incidently – who was a romantic, but also a realist. That’s what I like to think I am too. I want to feel loved just like the next person, and think that being in love is one of the best feelings ever. But I also know that relationships aren’t always lovey dovey and that they require TLC, compromise and commitment to thrive.
I’ve often wondered whether or not changing circumstances will alter my views on marriage. Would buying a house together make me want to get married? It didn’t. Then I wondered would I want to get married when I found out I was pregnant? Turns out, no. I feel very happy with our relationship and our commitment to each other. I don’t feel the need for vows or rings. Phill bought me a ‘forever’ necklace as a ten year anniversary gift and that’ll do for me!
But through all the ten years, a constant for us as a couple is being asked regularly ‘so when are you getting married?’, ‘why aren’t you married?’, ‘when are you getting a ring on your finger?’. I know it’s natural for people to ask these questions, just like they ask newly married couples ‘when are you’ going to have baby’, or single people ‘when are you going to settle down?’. But my question is, ‘when are these personal questions going to stop?’. How often do we have to tell people that marriage isn’t something we want and an engagement or wedding is not something we aspire to. I think in a lot of cases, people don’t believe my protestations that I don’t want to get married, or they don’t understand the mentality of not wanting a wedding and marriage and the ‘security’ that they feel that would bring.
I suppose for the majority of people, marriage is something they aspire to. And don’t get me wrong, I have had moments when I think it would be nice to celebrate our union with close friends and family and for people to know from just a look at my right hand that I am ‘taken’. But I think a bigger part of me likes the fact I’m not going down the marriage route. It’s like my own little rebellion against social pressures and social norms. It just saddens me that some people will doubt someone’s relationship if they decide to remain unmarried. Despite the high divorce rates, most people still think marriage is the highest form of devotion and commitment.
The next time you are tempted to ask someone a personal life question, perhaps think again. I for one have stopped asking long-term couples when they’re going to have a baby and I make a point of not asking my single friends if they’ve found love yet. Because not everyone wants the same things as you, and you don’t know what pain or anxiety (or annoyance) you might be dredging up.
I was inspired to write this piece after reading Orchid Grey’s blog post ‘When did you know you wanted children?‘.