Saturday, 5 May 2012

Why 'settle down'?

This is a bit of a spontaneous rant. 

Over the past few weeks, I've been thinking about this: Why do people expect me to get married and 'settle down'? What does that mean and why is it supposed to be so important? Why is it important to the people who ask me to consider it, and do I think it's important for me?

What prompted this musing?  Big things and little.  I've attended a string of weddings over the past year, and I'm about to attend the wedding of a very dear friend when I go home for a month, starting next week. I've also been exposed to a bunch of tiresome questions: When is it your turn?!! What?! You have NO PLANS!? Why?  
I react badly to this. 
On the surface of it, I manage to maintain some poise, and just shrug.  I don't actually think the people who ask want a genuine answer.  I have one, and it feels right for me, but I sense they don't want to hear it. I've tried explaining. I used to think that the question stemmed from a genuine desire for my happiness. So I thought I'd explain that I am happy. 
This worked for about 2 of the dozens who've asked. 

I want to be able to share this answer of mine, and like everyone else alive, I'd like to be understood. I'd like to hear 'Yes! I guess that's a good way of looking at it! If you're comfortable, that's great!' (that old need for validation, again!) 

Here is my answer.  It makes sense to me. 

I'm in a long-term, relatively stable relationship with the Man.  
By 'relatively', I mean:  I know I want to be with him. But I also refrain from making sweeping statements about hypothetical 'forevers'. I know that I've woken up every day for the last six years wanting to be with him, or wanting to work at it when things are rough. I've known this even through doubt. If that makes sense? 
And I know that the reason I am with him is because we are moving along our path, day to day, following the course set by our instincts. Not habit. Not need. Not a piece of paper. Not joint assets. Not obligation to others. 
It's hillarious that some people think that this arrangement means that we're not serious about each other. That we could just throw in the towel whenever we feel like it, on a whim. 
Yes, we could throw in the towel. Just like married people get divorced sometimes. Like them, if we did decide to part ways, it would probably not be a whimsical decision. I imagine that it would be because at the time, one or both of us would genuinely think that this was the the best thing to do. I cannot imagine doing something like that to myself, or to him, or to us, lightly, just because I haven't signed a piece of paper. 

I know that every day is special, and magical.  I love waking up next to him, and I love falling asleep with my cheek against his shoulder. 
That is all I need to know.  A piece of paper would not make me know it more. And here's what I'm scared of, come to think of it: That the piece of paper might lull one or both of us into assuming that we know it. And forgetting to tread our path guided by instinct, just bumbling along via the force of habit. 

This way does not feel 'insecure' to me, or 'unsettled'. 
I've never understood the term 'settled' anyway. What does it mean? Does it mean you have a sense that things will be stable for a while? A contractual arrangement between two people cannot guarantee that. Hearts are wilder than that. Or so I think they should be. 

That's why, years into our relationship, I genuinely do not get butterflies thinking about diamond rings. I get butterflies thinking about him. And that's still all that feels important to me. 

I wish we could continue to have our shared adventure in the world, like this, without feeling judged because of these priorities. Not that it causes us any lasting harm. But it would be nicer to feel celebrated for a choice that is meaningful to me, knowing that I have the freedom to change my mind (as people do!), and that that's okay too. Just as others are celebrated for making the choices they make: wedding, kids, car, degree, whatever. 

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