“She said yes!”
Well… Good for you.
There have been a lot of engagement announcements lately. And when I say a lot, I mean like 2 or 3 per week.
And every time I see those sweet pictures pop up on my timeline or my newsfeed, I get a twinge of nausea.
It’s not that I think marriage is stupid, or that I don’t think love is real, OR that I don’t approve of the union.
The hand holding, the ring pix, the “save the date” signs — That’s all charming and great, but wow — I feel like I’m going to have a heart attack.
The mini-panic I feel when someone I know decides to tie the knot, has compelled me to dive within myself and figure out, just why engagements freak. me. out.
My parents got a divorce when I was 14-years-old. I was in middle school, had a surprisingly great group of friends, listened to a lot of indie music and had a pair of lime-green converse sneakers. And after their divorce, I continued to listen to my weird music and wear my weird shoes. The only difference was, I lived in a smaller house. Which was fine with me, it was less scary. I wasn’t damaged, I didn’t suffer psychologically. Neither did my sister. We got a dog and we moved on with our lives. My Dad moved on, too.
I’ve had two serious relationships in my life. One that ended, and one that has, despite it all, survived, and it’s a pretty healthy one. He’s my favorite guy. Neither one of us have the desire to get married right now. Mostly, because we have young but serious careers, but also because, we are just not ready for that kind of commitment.
And that’s where my anxiety about all this marriage crap really gets to me. It seems like when people get engaged, the whole damn world is cheering them on from the sidelines. “Yes!!! Go!!! You can do it!!! Finally!!! Wooooo!!”
And inevitably, I’m the spectator wondering, “Are they sure?” “Do they REALLY wanna do this?” “They can still turn around and go home!”
I have dear friends, who are engaged or married and I have no doubt, whatsoever, that they are committed to each other, and will continue to stay that way. Because they were ready. They knew. They were “consciously coupling.”
Agreeing to marry someone is brave.
To look at a person and to be capable of saying YES, you WILL be there, when things go bad, when people get sick, when money is tight, and when the septic tank explodes.
That’s a gigantic commitment. And it’s a complicated one. Intricate, even reverent.
But getting engaged looks oh-so-easy. You looked up how to do it on Pinterest, and you picked out the perfect ring. And you asked. She said yes! And people took some pix that you posted to Instagram and just like that — You have 500+ supporters of your decision. Easy-peasy.
But there’s no Pinterest board titled “How to Make Your Marriage Work, Forever, For the Long-Haul, Even When You Want to Stick a Fork In Their Eyeball.” (Unfortunately.)
Marriage has to be hard, I can’t imagine that it’s not. I recently read a book and the author compared being married to Jesus carrying the cross up the hill before he was crucified. Yet Seth Rogan says, if everything in his life was like his marriage, he would have no problems.
So, what is it? Easy? Or torture?
On Monday I read an article from a man who lost his wife to cancer. She was in her 40s. He stood next to her while she tried on wigs after she lost her hair and he admitted to her that her eyes were yellowing when her liver started to fail — Which meant her life was beginning to fail. He compared her death to a phantom limb — an extension of his own body that wasn’t there any more.
All of that scares me. To my core. And the engagement pictures are fun and cute, but what happens when you’re middle-aged and sick? Or elderly and senile? When you have to be the one to tell your wife her eyes are yellow? Things aren’t as cute anymore. They aren’t as Pinterest-y.
I know marriage has its perks. You get a tax break right? Just kidding. I see how being married can be exciting, a ton of fun if you do it right, and down-right hilarious. But I see all the bad things, too.
One day I hope I’ll be able to look somebody in the eyes and tell them I promise to stand next to them even when they drive me nuts, when they’re running late, when they’re being rude — When they get sick, when they are depressed and even when they are dying.
But until then, I’ll celebrate your engagements, and I’ll your drink your free wine at your wedding (gladly), and I will buy you mixers and plates and shower curtains, and I will support you. With a twinge of anxiety in my own heart, until the day I am brave enough to promise somebody that I will, and always will.