Matrimony Monday: Deciding to Get Married

First of all, let me be clear that I am decidedly not a marriage expert.
I'm not a sociologist, a counselor, a psychologist, a self help book author, or anything else.
I'm just a twentysomething who's been married, divorced, and is now engaged again- who spends a LOT of time immersed in the wedding industry and thinking about the nature of marriage. All of this is based on my own experiences and obsessive Hermione Granger style research.

When I was 22, I thought that I had found someone who would make a good teammate for life. 
Six years later, I can safely say that I still don't think I was wrong- I think he would have, if he'd wanted to be my (or anyone's) life teammate. 
But he didn't. 
More devastatingly, he didn't realize that (or tell me) until after we'd been married for a year. 
And so, we got divorced. 
I didn't want to get divorced- I wanted to stay married... but I eventually figured out that you can't force someone to be on your team. 
I know that seems pretty obvious, but everyone makes mistakes at 24. I'm just lucky that my mistake was something dumb but principled. I made the best decision I could with the information I had available to me at the time. As Maya Angelou said, "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better."
There are far worse mistakes I could have made.

Contrary to what our rom-com worshiping society tells us, marriage isn't for everyone. 
It's not that there isn't a lid for every pot, because it's not that hard to find a lid that will fit.
The trick is finding a lid that won't explode off of your pot when the water starts boiling.
I firmly believe that some pots are genuinely better off without lids.
Not every person is better off married or partnered.

For some people, life is better off if they're married as long as it's to the right person.
(This seems to be the overarching idea about marriage today.)
For other people, life is complete only when they're married, period.
(Look at most of the first half of the 20th Century in Western Culture for this concept.
Romantic marriage was necessary and for everyone!
This is still the pervasive idea in a lot of cultures and communities.)

For me personally, the point of dating has always been about finding someone who would be on my team permanently.
I've never been one for "casual" dating or hookup culture.
For me, if something is worth doing, it's worth doing seriously.

I relate to this scene a little too intensely.

Of course, when I actually WAS looking to date casually (I seriously just wanted to try new restaurants and talk to interesting people, which I did.) I found myself another husband.

So how did we decide to get married?
It just rapidly became stunningly obvious that we needed to.

We're both pro-marriage people who want to build a family in the same ways.
We share the same values, principles, and almost all of the same priorities.
(He's more into spending money on cars than I am. *eyeroll* Can't win 'em all.)
He gets all of my references: Monty Python, most musical theatre jokes, weird stuff in Latin...

Most of all, I finally understood that line from Wuthering Heights-
"Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same."

It wasn't so much a decision to get married as it was an obvious necessity given who we are as people.
Honestly it felt like a "well, DUH" moment when I realized that this weird-like-me Philly guy was the one I didn't know I'd been waiting for.
(Ugh, I know, gross again, sorry.)
Unlike many other choices in my life, I didn't draw up a list of pros and cons, I didn't give a weighted point value to practical items that weigh in favor of my long term goals, and I didn't even consider how things would look in pictures first.
(Ok, well, I might have for a second, but you would too if you had the potential for cop/flight attendant engagement photos.)

So here's my point: if you have to weigh the pros and cons about marrying someone, you need to be honest with yourself about why you want to get married.

Is it simply because it's the next "logical" step?
Is it because they check boxes on a list?
Is it because you want the fun and spectacle of a wedding?
Is it because you're at a point in your life where you feel like you "should" be hitting certain goals and you haven't yet?
Is it in spite of fundamental differences that make your life consistently challenging that you're trying to ignore?

If you thought about any of these and then added the phrase "yeah, but..." then I think the situation bears discussion with someone who knows you really well and/or is a professional at helping people work through hard life things. 
If you're a traveler with a weird schedule like me, allow me to recommend BetterHelp or TalkSpace.

There's definitely no "right" timeline for deciding to marry someone.
Some people know after two weeks.
Some people know they're ready after two years of (metaphorically) kicking the tires and working through stuff.
Some people know they DON'T EVER want to get married, and that's ok too!
(As long as they're honest with their potential partners about it.)

That's pretty much what I've got so far.
Check back with me in another few years to see if anything has changed...because goodness knows my thoughts on this topic were VERY different when I was in my early twenties vs. now in my well seasoned late twenties when I am finally so wise.

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