I thought about you the other day. Shortly after I posted my long-awaited ring selfie that took 15 tries until it was Insta-worthy, I thought about you. Because up until an hour before that Instagram post, I was you. For many years, I was the one who felt a very specific twang in the gut every time one of my friends announced that they had some bling on their finger. Totally guilty of screenshots and group chats to analyze every pixilated detail. No shame here. I was that girl, too.
Don’t get me wrong, I am over the moon excited to be engaged. But I still feel pulled to acknowledge and talk about something we all like to pretend that we’re not feeling, or that doesn’t exist.
I’m 26 years old, and a lot of my peers are getting married, starting families, buying houses, and doing other real adult shit. It’s almost TOO easy to fall into the comparison/self-doubt trap every time we scroll our newsfeed. I think it’s a wide misconception that it’s only the girls who are “sad” or “depressed” or “unfulfilled” that fall into this void, and it’s simply not true. It can be HARD not to question our own success, relationship status, parenting skills, kitchen decor, you name it, when it feels (and looks) like everyone around us seems to be nailing it.
I know we hate to admit it, but every once in a while, we see a little shiny thing dangling from someone’s finger as we’re scrolling, it does this weird thing in our brain which makes us start to question our own relationship. Our own worthiness, our own level of “wifey-material.” Whether or not the tick of your internal clock is deafening, or you just want to be introduced as more than just a girlfriend, It’s not uncommon to think to yourself “when it is going to be my time?”
Full disclosure: as a wedding photographer, seeing engagement announcements was exciting and thrilling, but as a girlfriend of 7 years, with a shared mortgage, and the shared responsibility of raising a child, I sometimes thought to myself “well, is this shit ever going to become legit or what?”
Here’s the thing: every single relationship is different, with different needs, struggles, highs, lows, strengths, necessities, etc. Which is why it’s totally unfair to compare YOUR relationship to another, because it will NEVER make sense. I’m sure there were people who wondered “what was wrong” in my relationship because we had been together for so long, ring-less. But the truth is, we weren’t ready, in many ways. It took us 7 years to both get to the point where we both felt that we were financially, emotionally and logistically ready to become legally bound. I’m sure there are couples who became just as “ready” within 2 years as we are now, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that!
Look, I completely get it. You’re happy and satisfied in your relationship as it stands, and if you’re like many modern relationships, you probably already live together, share a life, dogs, maybe kids, the whole nine. Which leaves little to change when you actually get married. But that’s not what we’re concerned with. We want to know that our partner wants to make a legitimate lifelong commitment to us. It’s not about what will change, but it’s about what won’t. We want stability. Girl, I TOTALLY get it, you are preaching to the choir, and you are certainly not alone, which is exactly why I wrote this post.
To channel my inner Dr. Phil/Bill Nye the Science Guy, women generally rank stability emotionally, within relationships/friendships higher than we do in materialistic aspects, such as jobs, houses, cars, etc. Sure, those things certainly are important in making us feel secure and content, but I’m willing to bet that it was not a man who came up with the quote, “home is wherever I’m with you.” Men, on the other hand, seek stability in what they can provide – “I want to buy a house, or get a promotion before we get married” type thing. It’s completely normal and it’s just how we are as humans. Now, before I get a bunch of hate comments, claiming that I’m gender-casting, note that I use the word “generally” very heavily. Refer to the paragraph above, every relationship and individual is different, but GENERALLY, this is how men and women are wired differently, and how we rank stability in our lives.
That being said, yes, there are certainly exceptions, i.e. peter pan syndrome with the everlasting man-child, who thinks marriage is dumb, blah blah, but that’s another post for another day.
Anyway, my message to you is this: the love your partner has for you is not, and will never, be measured in the weight of a carat. It doesn’t make your relationship any less special or significant. I am a firm believer in divine timing. Whether you believe in God, the universe, Puff the Magic Dragon, whatever, when your time comes, it’s because it’s the right time. Give yourself and your relationship the grace and patience to flourish. I know it’s much easier said than done, and can certainly be hard at times. I like to think that I have a great ability to think logically and realistically in many situations and scenarios (thanks, Dad) and really, getting married is a big deal! It’s not just a wedding, it’s not just the “fun” stuff, and it’s certainly not something that should be taken lightly. It’s credit scores, it’s washing shit stains out of your husband’s underwear, it’s a lifelong thing, with significant impact. Sure, it’s also MANY great things too, but I just want to put into perspective that there’s a lot that should be considered before taking the plunge. Remember that taking about the whole “marriage thing” with your partner is NOT taboo, and should be discussed at some point. Understand where your partner stands on the idea, and most importantly, respect their opinion, whether or not you agree or disagree, and vise-versa. Ideally, wouldn’t it be awesome if both you AND your partner were totally on the same page about when the next step of your relationship should happen? I’ll tell you, it makes it THAT much more exciting and joyful. Knowing that you’re both making a smart, intentional choice, leaving little to no room for any kind of doubt.
Seeing where someone else is at in their relationship should never make you question your own. It does not mean that you’re not as loved or as valued as them, it just means that you’re at the place that you’re supposed to be at this time. So the next time you see another one of your sorority sisters get engaged, I want you to think about this post, and I want you to remember that now is not your time, but it will be eventually. And when it is, it will be all that more sweet, and totally worth the wait. Cherish and embrace your relationship at whatever stage you’re at, and girl, you KNOW that I’ll be double tapping that ring selfie, when the time comes.