- 10 months ago
- Wedding: June 2020
I think the societal pressure is part of it and may often provide the “spark” for waiting, but I think what makes waiting feel so personal and difficult is the struggle with trust within the relationship itself. Loss of trust can damage self confidence by making you question the reality of your relationship and your partner’s commitment compared to your perception of it. And it doesn’t usually happen in a single watershed moment that flips a switch from trusting and emotionally connected to emotionally disconnected.
At least that has been my experience. I was with my SO for almost 10 years without worrying about engagement. I was in college and then grad school, living independently, doing my own thing and working towards my own career goals. We had both expressed interest in marriage and were content in that level of commitment for years. There was no reason to doubt it. But when I felt that “spark” of eagerness to move forward with the engagement and expected him to feel the same, the slow realization that my expectation was incorrect led me to increasingly question why I had that expectation and what that meant for the relationship that I was wrong.
“Why is he still not ready? I don’t see X or Y as a reason to wait, so why does he see it that way? Am I the one being unreasonable? Or is he just making excuses that come down to him not being comfortable with taking that next step? But I am comfortable. Is he not as committed as I had believed him to be for the past 10 years? Or did he change his mind? If I had done something differently, would he have not changed his mind? Did I do something to make him doubt his commitment or mine?”
Is the association of marriage = commitment a societal tradition, yes. Are there still patriarchal aspects to engagement and marriage, yes. The “spark” I felt to get engaged was due in part to the societal pressure of being in my late 20s and in a relationship for almost 10 years. But I, like most people, had made the decision to accept marriage as the biggest symbol of commitment and to trust my partner in doing so.
I do think we can control how we deal with waiting to an extent, but I don’t think those feelings can be entirely avoided if you are committed to a person and want marriage. I don’t think it’s as simple as telling yourself to not base your self esteem on a man. I think it would be unfair and unreasonable for me to look retrospectively at the situation and tell myself that I shouldn’t have been confused and hurt that I had thought my SO was ready and excited to get engaged to me at the same time as me when he wasn’t. That if I was just somehow a better, stronger person I wouldn’t have taken it personally that I was ready but he wasn’t.
Or that I should’ve been quicker to turn a 180 and walk away from the relationship rather than let his decisions influence me. I don’t think it’s as simple as telling myself that I wouldn’t be waiting if he was a good guy.
What I do think I could’ve controlled was my efforts in communication. I did allow my insecurity to fester because I didn’t say what I needed to say to work productively towards dealing with my feelings of waiting. I was afraid of defensiveness or difficult answers. I held back in order to not seem pressuring or demanding, so I do see that as a stereotype I should’ve pushed back against. But in my SO’s defense, I also became increasingly unwilling to consider his reasoning because I saw his side as making excuses, which is another stereotype. He communicated poorly as well, but I acknowledge that my effort in being empathetic with him was lacking at times.