Before anyone gears up to tear me a new one, you should understand that when I refer to a “window”, I am in no way referring to a person’s age. I don’t care if you get married at 25 or 65 (or maybe marriage isn’t your thing – that’s cool too!). But I’m starting to feel like there was a sort of sweet spot in my relationship, a small window of time where marriage seemed like a good idea, and when I wasn’t afraid to do it. And now I worry that ship might have sailed 😐.
I know that at least a part of it is that societal expectations have shifted. Granted, I sometimes still get grilled on why I’m over 30 and unwed (more on that in another post). But for the most part, marriage isn’t something mandatory anymore, and you’re expected to take your time in choosing a suitable match for yourself.
Which is all good, yet I wonder if we might be shifting from one extreme to another. Go back a generation or two and it wasn’t uncommon for people to tie the knot without having lived together or even been intimate together. It was almost like we had this idea that sooner, rather than later, you just picked someone, settled down, and got the show on the road.
But now we’ve slipped into an era of never-ending engagements. A time where you feel like you need to be 100-percent-beyond-a-reasonable-doubt sure before we proceed. We proceed with maybe a little too much caution? Is this really less pressure, or just a different kind of pressure?
It makes total sense that you want to really get to know a person before you commit your life to them (obviously). Which takes time. You want to be sure you are on the same page for the major issues and that you are overall going to be happy together. But even once we have decided that, and know deep down it’s true, we are still waiting and delaying, for whatever reason.
I think that once the honeymoon phase has past, and you still have some measure of excitement and gratitude to be with the person you’re with – you’ve hit the sweet spot. It’s time to seal the deal. Because after this comes a tipping point. A point at which things just become too comfortable and you might start to think “why bother”. A point where things are perhaps a little tooooooo comfortable, where you know more than you ever wanted to know about the person that you’re with. It’s at this point where you start to over-analyze, doubt, and basically wonder what you are really signing yourself up for.
The reality is that everyone, including myself, has flaws. Sometimes big ones. Things about the other person that are going to drive you absolutely bat-shit crazy. It’s only a matter of time. And now, after several years, every little strain, moment of boredom, or smallest resentment seems to fuel our second-guessing. It’s like we are on the hunt for deal breakers. If you’re ever started a small disagreement about the thermostat setting, and ended by screaming that you “shouldn’t have to live like this”, you might understand the nit-picking and exaggeration that I’m referring to.
The end result? I have been in my relationship for 5 + years now. Somehow, we’ve turned into that “old married couple” when we aren’t even, well, married? And what’s interesting to me is that I feel like if we *were* already married, any of the problems that arose would somehow feel more expected and easy to handle. As if we would be blessed with some sort of magical marital maturity that would help us buckle down and “work on it”.
But instead these little disagreements make us afraid, and we feel compelled to search for perfection. I feel like the longer we wait, the further the possibility slips away. We might still get married some day. Maybe? But I think if it were to happen, our family would have to stage some sort of set-up. Kind of like how a parent asks a kid if they want to go for ice cream, and then suddenly the child realizes they are actually going to the dentist (or in our case, city hall…).