- 5 years ago
Here’s a bit of backstory:
Growing up I never thought I would get married to anyone, but my high school sweet heart. We dated from the age of 16 – 24. After accepting he didn’t want to marry young (he wanted to have certain material things in life before making that commitment), I gave up romantic notions of engagement, a wedding, and a family (everything became very calculated) trading it in for a career oriented outlook on life, and figured one day we would elope essentially living and thinking like a married couple. Still, it was a very healthy relationship, and our goals and communication about this made it stronger.
After 8 years it ended on mutual terms, once we both accepted we wanted different things in life, our careers ultimately separated us. I moved to a new city, and this is when I met R, my fiancee. I wasn’t looking to get into another relationship, and R at the time was living with his girlfriend, although their relationship was at it’s wits end. As friends we told each other a lot about our relationships, and with no romantic interest in him, I listened openly to the problems of his (some of which still haunt me to this day).
Eventually he split with his girlfriend, and we began dating rather casually- it was a lot of fun for both of us. But I had no intention of taking things seriously with him; especially since he still had ties with his ex. Plus, I knew too much about his last relationship; it somehow shaped my perception of the type of person he was (high maintenance girlfriend, $2,000 engagement ring, theatrical arguments etc.). In fact, I felt like I was the complete opposite of his type; that it would never work out long term. Yet he was very persistent and dedicated to cultivating a bond with me. All the while turning a new leaf in life; it was a growing period for both of us, but it wasn’t smooth sailing until 3 months of “officially” dating.
One year into the relationship R proposed to me. Later he admitted he would have done it early, that he knew since we began dating he wanted to marry me. The proposal was very romantic and sweet, but I felt like when I said yes, something changed in me. At the time of the proposal, we were on Maui, and the reality of it all didn’t sink in until we got back home. Not knowing how to handle our engagement, I quickly called family to make the announcement, we printed out one year wedding planning itineraries, and the madness ensued.
Getting back home meant friends, engagement parties, people who wanted to see my ring, and congratulated us. Not only were some of my friends and family shocked, but I had to put up with a lot of confused back handed comments given my relationship history. “Wait- he hasn’t met your family? He didn’t even think to ask your family?” “That’s the ring he got you? Come on Lei, you’re with more than that? Did he not even ask your opinion?” (granted the ring he got me is modest, but I still love it because of what it symbolizes). “How long have you two been dating again?” “You two don’t have your own place yet? A shared bank account? A cat?” “So… You’re not going to Japan for that job you really wanted?”
We talked a lot through the first few months of our engagement about my “new concerns” for the direction of our lives and relationship. And although it was productive, I just felt like everything was happening too fast. I pushed the wedding date back 3 years, and now we’re just letting things fall into place. I never realized it, but because my last relationship was so calculated, I felt like this spontaneous decision to get married was overwhelming. Ever sense our relationship has been up and down. Sometimes I don’t wear my engagement ring, and we both go back and forth between addressing each other as boyfriend, girlfriend, fiancee, and partner. Our relationship is very healthy and light hearted otherwise; he’s definetly my best friend and vise versa.
Going out, meeting people, dealing with family, friends, and coworkers can be hard sometimes; everyone asks about “the wedding”, giving us advice on buying a condo, when to have kids etc. I still get snide remarks about my ring (which we’ve talked about replacing- because I knew how much he spent on his ex’s ring, and his family knew, it’s been this tug-o-war of ideologies that just makes me sick), but that isn’t going to change the state of “limbo” we’ve found ourselves in. The other night we had a another talk about our very long engagement, and R’s fine with it, but worried about how it effects my self esteem. It kind of a weak point in my life; a bit depressing. He said, “if it makes you feel better, morally, socially, that we’re not engaged, I’m fine with that. If you want to break up with me, I’m fine with that. If you want to be my girlfriend, fiancee, wife, love, I’ll take it, any one of them. I’ll still love you no matter what, and won’t stop taking care of you.”
I feel lucky to have a man so caring and understanding. We romanticize so much about life as women, because we’re taught to. And when things aren’t picture perfect, we have to bear the burden of people’s expectations. Truth be told, maybe I’m not ready to get married, but it doesn’t mean I’m incapable of loving someone fully or one day being a good wife or mother. It especially doesn’t mean I don’t want to spend my life with this incredible person. I feel like these pressures have pushed me to do stupid things; the stupidest of all is assuming my “role” as a “women” in our relationship which feel very unlike me. I’m a very independent person, and I don’t want to be told by anyone -especially the man I’m in a relationship with- that I don’t get a say in this whole marriage issue. That I’m either single for life, or have to be married by the time I’m 30.
There are a few things I want to do for myself before I get married, and a few levels of intimacy our relationship needs to reach as well. It seems unfair, selfish; with our grandparents getting older, and my fiancee in waiting, I can’t help but feel like this is all so selfish of me. Is it really so selfish? Can a relationship survive this sort of pressure to preform now that the engagement has been announced? Although R is patient and kind, I don’t want him to feel like he’s missing out on that “blissful engagement” period, that he’s inadequate or made to feel uncertain about what our marriage is going to be. It doesn’t help that he works in the wedding industry either…
If you made it through this post, thank you, any thoughts? Maybe my experience is marginal; I have a handful of friends who understand where I’m coming from, but a majority of them aren’t seeing the light at the end of the tunnel of a 3 year engagement…