Recently two people I know have gotten engaged. One of them may read this blog and the engagement came after a long, thoughtful, fully involved relationship. They dated, they moved in together, they got engaged. The second is a friend from college who was also the best man in my wedding. He met this woman last summer, they bought a house in January, and got engaged in late March. This morning I got a Facebook Save the Date Event Invite for their Valentine's Day 2016 wedding. This will be the second marriage for both of my friends, and they both have two kids as well.
Beyond this, my ex-H has told me that he has an engagement ring for his girlfriend, and is likely proposing soon. They're going on a trip to Italy in early May and I'd be shocked if he didn't come home engaged. They've been dating for about a year with her living in NYC and him in DC, with the goal of her moving here this summer. In summation, this has been the year of love and marriage around me, or at least engagements.
FACT: All of this is a hard pill to swallow. However, and I hope this goes without saying, I'm so happy for all of my friends who have found love and found someone they want to commit themselves to. I'm especially happy for those friends who have tried before only to have it not work out, yet have managed to open themselves back up to the possibility and have been rewarded with new, better love. This provides me with all kinds of hope that second chances are a real thing, and that we really can learn from our past experiences and mistakes and make better choices as a result.
So on one hand you have all of these new relationships, engagements and marriages, both pending and recent. On the other hand, you have me and my relationship.
"Getting married will happen at some point. Who knows when after only a year." - Thing BF said to me today in a conversation about this very topic.
I don't know why all of these engagements and weddings are bringing up such weird emotional baggage for me. I dated my now ex-husband for 4+ years before we got engaged. We were engaged for a year before getting married. We were married for 6 years before we separated, 7 by the time of the divorce. I put my time into that relationship. Aside from the fact that we were only in our early twenties when we got married, everything looked good on paper. We didn't rush anything. We took our time. Look how that turned out.
Meanwhile I have friends who have met someone, fallen in love and gotten engaged very quickly. In spite of my initial skepticism, some remain very happy to this day. Others have struggled more, and are still reasonably happy, though they have expressed regret over how quickly they moved in the process at various points.
Bottom line? There is no universal answer. Everyone's relationship is different. People feel comfortable making big choices at different points, and that's OK. The only real necessary match on that issue is between the two people in the relationship. This is where I worry about my current relationship.
"Things will happen when they happen. It's not like it's been 4 years."
I keep insisting there's no way I'd stick around for four years at this point in my life without an indication of marriage. Why? I don't know.
That's right. I have a really strong conviction about something, but no real explanation for why. Is it because the world tells me that marriage is how you prove your commitment? Because everyone else is doing it? Because I did it once and I was good at it, even if my spouse wasn't? Because that's just what you do after you date for a certain period of time? Maybe it's for all of those reasons, or none of them. I have no idea. I've just always felt, ever since my marriage ended, that I knew I wanted to do it again. I always assumed I would.
I feel a little bit bad for BF. He pointed out, rightly so, that we have this same conversation every time one of my friends gets married or engaged. This is true, though I wish it weren't. The fact of it makes me feel very cliched-girl, and I hate that. I don't want to be that person pushing someone into marriage. I don't want to feel compelled to do something for some ambiguous reason. I don't want to get caught up in the engagement and wedding fever just for the sake of having something to get worked up about.
There's a fine line between being able to have an open discussion about your future with your partner and beating a dead horse, so to speak. Because BF is not necessarily someone who would seek out marriage if it didn't matter to his partner, I do feel like it's OK for me to do a status check every six months or so, just to make sure we're still on the same page. I do want to get remarried eventually, which he has always known, and I wouldn't be with him if I didn't see that potential in us. So confirming that every now and again seems fair. He knows where I stand. He knows what I want in my future. I have to continue trusting that he would not lead me on if he didn't see the potential for those things with me.
His mind is such a different animal than mine. When we talk, it's so surprising at times how straightforward his thinking is. My mind is a complicated pool of what ifs and maybes and it's all tangled up with emotion and feelings. So many of his responses to me are just so matter of fact. Example: I said something about how different we are in terms of what would basically be considered our love languages. I'm very affectionate and vocally direct about it when I love someone. I tell him I love him when the thought crosses my mind, which is fairly often. I don't do it out of habit, I do make an effort to say it only when I'm really thinking it.
He's more of a person who shows you by small actions and gestures. He's never going to be the guy posting on FB to declare how wonderful his beautiful GF is (like my brother does). He's never going to be the guy to gush over me in a group setting. He's also never going to be the guy who is all over me in public. He's not going to hold my hand all the time or give me a bunch of quick kisses on a street corner. He doesn't constantly seek me out physically when we're watching TV or sports.
Instead, he's the guy who will buy me flowers on my first day of a new commute from a new house. He's the guy who will curl up next to me some nights in bed and nuzzle up to me. He's the guy who will absently place his hand across my back when we're out with friends. The guy who will casually, almost without thinking, caress my hand when we're sitting together. The guy who learned that greeting cards matter to me, and thusly now gets me the sweetest, cutest cards and writes truly sincere messages in them. He's the person who doesn't initiate saying "I love you" constantly, but when he does say it, it feels incredibly sincere and meaningful.
I've dated (and married, and divorced) and broken up with the charmer. The big personality. The guy who can acclimate to any group setting with no problem, the guy everyone loves. In the end, those people failed me. Their larger than life "public" personas didn't fully match who they were when everyone else was gone and it was just the two of us. Ex-H was emotionally detached by the time we split. He couldn't connect with me on any real level. If anything, I drove myself crazy trying to get him to react to anything at all to prove he was even present in our relationship.
Angry Ex was the charmer, too. But when it was just the two of us he carefully tore me down. He helped me isolate myself from my friends, and he lashed out at me with everything he had when challenged. He was manipulative and condescending and mean as often as he was charming and funny and easy to get along with.
Today while talking about all of this with BF, I mentioned how different he was from anyone I've dated before, and how sometimes it's hard for me to immediately translate his actions into declarations of love and commitment since they are so subtle and small. I told him that sometimes, no matter how silly it sounds, I just want to know he loves me as much as I love him. How I worry in weak moments that I love him more, or am more invested, and thusly more at risk in the relationship.
"I wouldn't be with you and living with you if that were the case."
So simple. He burrows right down through my crazy and responds so matter-of-factly. Sometimes I really wish my brain worked that way. I do recognize there is great value in being emotionally in tuned with things, and seeing things that way, but I do know that sometimes it leads to these overreactions and moments of heightened sensitivity for me. In certain moments I definitely envy the ability to deal with things primarily via logic, though I would never sacrifice my crazy mind just to be logical. ;-)
I started rambling to him that I don't even know why I want to get re-married sometimes since it didn't work out the first time, that maybe it's better to just be happy with where things are, to stay until you don't want to anymore. I declared that I needed to stop worrying about pointless things. He responded that it wasn't pointless and that he was pretty open minded on how things will go with us. I said that basically sounded like the "Stay until you don't want to" philosophy and that maybe that was the smarter, simpler way to go.
"Well, I haven't taken anything off the table, except not being with you."
I'm going to cool my jets with all of this marriage business. When I'm not being bombarded with engagement announcements and wedding invites, I'm so happy in my relationship. I have confidence in our future, even if I don't know exactly how it will unfold. We talk about our future, we plan for it, and that's usually enough. It should be enough!
I need to take a step back and remember that other people's relationships are their own. People move at their own pace based on their own personalities and experiences. Our pace is maybe slower than some around us right now, and yet maybe faster than others. Who knows. But it's obviously working out well enough. We laugh all the time. We talk about our future. We're still very attracted to each other. Moving in together has been such a great step for us and is going so well. These are all good things that I should be focusing on!
Maybe at some point if things don't progress naturally it will have to come up again. I truly don't want to be dating for years without knowing that a marriage is in the works. BF knows that. But right now...it's been just shy of a year and four months. We've been living together for just shy of two months. We *are* progressing. We're fully immersing ourselves in each step, and making sure it still works and still feels right before moving forward again. For now I want to enjoy living together, enjoy being together, and enjoy looking forward to our future together. No more keeping up with the marrying Joneses. ;-) Bluemoon & Bluefish at Casa Blue with J on the weekends and two cats all the time? This simple setup makes me happy EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. It's time to allow myself to enjoy it without letting any internal or external pressure take away from it.
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