I knew on our very first date that my guy was something special. In fact, a few weeks after we made things official, I told one of my girlfriends that he was “The One.” Four years later, he popped the question. Friends and family had been bugging us for years to get married, but I wouldn’t change a thing about our relationship journey. I’ve always been of the opinion that couples that rush into marriage are absolutely nuts, and I stand by it.
I realize there are exceptions to the rule. I’d like to start off by saying that I recognize the fact that there are plenty of couples out there that dated for a month, tied the knot, and 25 years later they’re happy as ever. As romantic as that sounds, I think the average divorce rate is an obvious example of the probability that situations like that rarely work out. Studies have shown that the divorce rate is falling thanks to us picky millennials, and I think that’s something to be proud of.
People can fake it for a long time—trust me. I spent two years with a guy before his abusive habits and drinking problems came to light. His behavior was so out of left field, many of my friends and family didn’t want to believe me when I told them why I had to break things off. I walked away with a new skepticism for relationships and a broken heart, but it taught me something important: people aren’t always what they seem. Only time can reveal a person’s true nature and intentions.
Marriage is forever, so what’s the rush? The first time I saw someone post “I can’t wait to spend forever with you” on Facebook, I was truly perplexed. She posted the phrase just six months into her new relationship, right underneath a cute photo of her shiny new engagement ring. I wondered what that phrase really meant to her. Does forever only begin once a ring is on a woman’s finger? Marriage isn’t some sort of finish line, it’s just the beginning. I’ve never understood the rush to get to that point in life.
People change depending on their environment. If there’s one thing millennials are known for, it’s our tendency to job hop. There are various financial benefits to doing such a thing, but it has its consequences. Job hopping can often lead to big moves across state lines or even oceans. I’ve made three big career moves in the past five years and I won’t sugar coat it—strains were often put on my relationship because of it. I was able to make those moves because I wasn’t tied down to the places I was living. I had debts to pay off and life goals to achieve before settling down, and my guy and I were fortunate that it all worked out for us in the end.
Couples that can’t adapt together won’t last long. I’m not the same person I was a few years ago. Very few people maintain the same ideals as they age, and that’s totally normal. Some men become more conservative, some women decide city living isn’t their style. I’ve always believed that couples fall out of love or grow apart for this exact reason. Life experiences can change people on a fundamental level, and it’s up to the couple to decide if these drastic changes are worth going through together. Only time can prove if a relationship can weather the storm of natural change.
The honeymoon stage isn’t over. Think about it—people that are together for a year have only experienced one set of birthdays together, one Valentine’s Day, one Christmas. Each of these new milestones comes with its own set of cute new traditions and experiences. After a few years, couples tend to settle into a routine, but some don’t. Some couples argue over which family they’ll be spending the holidays with or if Valentine’s Day is just too commercial to celebrate. So many people think the honeymoon stage of a relationship lasts four to six months and then they’re basically an old couple after that. It’s simply not true.
If kids are a determining factor, take a step back. I went out with a girlfriend the other day and she told me this crazy story about her roommate. She’s marrying her boyfriend of less than one year for the sole purpose of pumping out babies because her 30s are quickly approaching. Family planning is obviously a personal decision, but there’s a difference between committing your life to someone and using a guy as a personal sperm bank. There are ways to have children later in life. Pretending to fall in love with a man in order to “have kids on time” is harmful to everyone involved.
The decision to marry has consequences. It took me over a year to decide which college I wanted to attend for a measly four years of my life. The decision to marry is one of the biggest a person can make, and it should be considered with the utmost of care. A person doesn’t just get to walk away from a marriage without the tumultuous experience of divorce, cutting ties with mutual friends, divvying up belongings and finances. It’s a real, grown ass decision that comes with serious consequences.
There is no perfect time. I sincerely don’t mean to sound judgmental when I tell my friends not to rush into marriage. I’m not an expert in love and relationships. The fact is, there is no perfect time to get engaged and commit to another person for life. It’s a huge decision that can end up any number of ways. If a lady wants to pull a Khloe Kardashian and put a ring on it after a month of dating, she can be my guest! It’s still not going to stop me from thinking she’s batsh*t crazy.
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