A friend of mine got married yesterday. Within minutes, I was all over those Facebook pictures like a kid on double-chocolate cake. Last month, when a classmate from high school announced she was engaged, I rapidly clicked through her profile (and his), dying to figure out exactly how old are they, anyway?
I have what I affectionately call “it’s going to be OK” syndrome. This is when I see the ages of my almost engaged/engaged/married friends and breathe a sigh of relief, thinking, “It’s going to be ok. Everyone seems so happy for them. People will be happy for us, too, whenever that may be.” My boyfriend and I are planning on getting married at some point in our future. It’s not really a secret, I guess. Timing, of course, depends on grad school, careers, relocation and the like. Our families know, and our close friends know. Everyone is quite supportive (at least to my face). So why am I terrified of judgmental people?
I’m happy; happier than I’ve ever been. As a friend recently put it, “If it were anyone else, I’d be worried. But you two are perfect for each other.” Another said, “You’re smart enough that you know what you’re getting into.” It’s true. I’ve always been commitment-minded, and coming from a family rife with divorce, I understand the implications of “for better or for worse.” I could go on and on about the whys, but that’s not the reason I’m here. In fact, by not enumerating the multitude of reasons why I am eventually going to spend the rest of my life with My Guy, I’m illustrating my point in full. My relationship is none of your business.
Unless you are my parent, my best friend, or my shrink, then it is not your problem. In fact, no one’s relationship is really your business. This magical concept hit me like a ton of bricks one day, when I was talking about friends of mine who just got engaged. They’re jumping for joy that our home state is about to allow them to get legally married… but some people aren’t thrilled. “It’s too soon! They barely know each other! They’re jumping on the marriage bandwagon!” Their engagement came up in conversation. A mutual friend asked my opinion. I said… nothing. I can’t judge other people’s relationships, you see, because I hate when people judge mine. You know nothing about our relationship. Even if you were my parent, my best friend, or my shrink, you are not one of the two people directly involved in my relationship.
Yes, there are young marriages out there that are rushed, planned only for the voracious thrill of gift-opening and pretty, sparkly things. There are marriages that will fall apart a year, five years, twenty years in. You can throw around statistics. All I am trying to tell you is that relationships are different for everyone. I am not throwing my life away, believe it or not. The very smart women over at A Practical Wedding have made the point that marriage — or any relationship, really — is addition, not subtraction. It’s supposed to add to your life. [On a side note, I highly recommend the site for thoughtful conversation about marriage, weddings, and being a woman in today’s society.] Heck, like any relationship out there, ours is malleable. But no matter what happens, it’s my issue, not yours.
Last week, I ran into several friends, one of whom is getting married next month. I asked, “How do you do it?” I’m nowhere close, and yet, for some reason I’m already terrified of the naysayers. She replied that, when faced with negativity, you have to understand that the person in question genuinely cares about you. Truly, thank you for your concern. We appreciate that you care so much about us. “Do you like him?” Yes. “And he likes you?” Of course. “And you’re lucky enough to have the support of everyone who truly matters in your life?” Absolutely. “Then ignore all the rest.”
I am in such a fantastic relationship. It’s a place, I hope, that everyone will experience at some point in their life. That place, however, is different for everyone. For some, it may or may not include a relationship, or their relationship timeline may differ. That is fine. In fact… it’s none of my business.