The radio failed me this morning on my drive to work by giving me more morning talk shows than music, so I gave up hope and settled on a station with the least annoying morning talk show. Today, the co-hosts were discussing marriage, specifically the undisclosed line in the sand that some women draw as their cutoff date on when they want their man to propose marriage. Their opinion was that every couple should have this line and should plan to be engaged at a certain point in the relationship, otherwise they are wasting their time and should leave their partner and move on with their life. They had numerous women phone in, all sharing the opinion that the line in the sand is vital and that the lack of a ring means the relationship must end.
I will be celebrating my five year wedding anniversary with my wonderful husband on March 28th, so I’m obviously a fan of marriage. There wasn’t time for me to even consider drawing a line in the sand with us; we made things official on my husband’s birthday in November, moved in together two months later, and were married two months after that. We knew that we loved each other so much that the commitment of marriage was a given. There was no pressure and certainly no ultimatums. We were lucky enough to immediately know what we wanted and to be on the same page about it. I’m happier now than I was when we first met, and I’m eternally grateful to have found my perfect match.
I can understand why some people feel the need to draw that line in the sand and to either promise themselves that they will leave after a certain time without a ring or to promise their partner that they are done if there is no engagement. I do not understand why people think marriage is the be all and end all though. Marriage is fantastic but it’s certainly not for everyone and certainly isn’t a mandatory stage in everyone’s relationship. I suspect that part of the reason the divorce rate is so high is because people see marriage as mandatory in order for a relationship to move forward, rush to the altar, and then realize that they weren’t ready to attach themselves to someone legally.
Discussing your future with your partner is vital; you have to ensure that you both are traveling along the same path and that you want the same things. Ultimatums, spoken or silent, are simply not part of a healthy relationship. Why would anyone want to marry someone that threatens to leave if a ring isn’t placed on their finger? I don’t see how that act contains any love or respect for the individual or for the couple. One woman who called in to the radio show said that she told her boyfriend that if they were not engaged after a year of living together, she would walk. They were monogamous and in love, head over heels in her words, yet she still thought it necessary to put an expiration date on their love if she didn’t get her diamond. Instead of the surprise and joy of her man popping the question unexpectedly, she got a ring right on schedule at the year mark and was able to plan her wedding. She got what she wanted, but not in the proper way.
It’s one thing to tell your partner that you can’t continue on if they don’t get a job, don’t work on their drinking problem, or don’t agree with you on whether or not to have children. These are things that can seriously impact the relationship; no one wants to commit to someone who freeloads, behaves badly, or can’t give you the family you want. You also have the right to present an ultimatum if your partner refuses to become monogamous, as most people aren’t okay with sharing their partner with other people. That monogamy, however, does not need to come with a ring at a certain date, or at all. Many people are perfectly happy without marriage or with waiting until later in life when they are financially and emotionally stable and can plan the absolute perfect wedding and honeymoon.
We should desire to be married because we love the person we are with and because we want to make the commitment to them in front of family, friends, God, or just privately to each other with the assistance of a priest or clerk of the court. Getting married out of fear of losing a person is simply wrong. Where is the love in that? Why can’t a couple be happy together without a marriage certificate? Why can’t a person ignore the pressure from friends and family to get that ring and live their life for themselves? Why can’t we rid ourselves of the idea that you must be married by a certain age, or else you’re a failure? Why can’t we decide for ourselves how important marriage is to us instead of having society do it for us?
If you want to be married and your partner is fully against the idea, then you may need to end the relationship. If both of you are on board with marriage, move forward and don’t worry about the when. The important thing should be that you both desire to make that commitment in the future and that you both wish to plan your lives together as a couple. Stop wasting time stressing about the when and live in the now. Don’t throw away a good thing simply because you won’t be walking down the aisle before you’re 30. Be grateful and happy that you have found love and enjoy what you have. Marriage is simply one stop on a long road as a couple. There is no rule about when that stop needs to be made and there’s no need to speed past all the other joys of a relationship in order to get there faster. Be happy, be in love, and allow things to run their natural course.