If you use Facebook and you’re in your twenties you’re bound to be bombarded with the overwhelming flow of engagements, weddings, and general “bride glow” illustrated through a plethora of pictures and statuses in your newsfeed. It’s beautiful. It’s great. It really is. They all look so pretty and happy. Oh so very happy. (And yet somehow all it makes me want to do is cry and eat cake.)
I’ve gathered from my parents and television that your twenties is typically the time that most of your friends get married. I’m 24 so only barely creeping on the halfway point, but this year in particular seems to have been when the shot was fired for all the brides-to-be to start the race. I’m sure this is only the beginning of the inundation of my Facebook newsfeed with Bride Pride, and it’s both exciting (because I love to see all my high school and college friends finding their Prince Charmings) and annoying (because I’m very far from a Prince Charming much less a Happily Ever After). In fact, at this point, I’m quite convinced that Happily Ever Afters don’t actually exist and that we’re fooling ourselves into believing that expensive weddings, white dresses, and elaborate honeymoons will be enough to satisfy a woman’s fantasy for the rest of her life. Disney, as much as you inspired us, you also ruined us.
You made us impatient and foolish and full of fanciful thinking. You gave us false hope in finding True Love that would inevitably give us a Happily Ever After when it’s not that simple. And yet we’re still striving for it in those pictures. You can see it in the bride and groom’s eyes. They’re so in love and trying so damn hard to be the perfect couple. To be the couple they knew they could always be. No wonder we get Bridezillas, that’s way too much stress to put on any one person.
You see we’re not perfect creatures. We’re too moved by feeling rather than logic when it comes to finding a mate so that we marry the guy with the grand gestures even if he’s got a shoddy relationship track record. And we wonder why our first time marriage divorce rate is so high? (45-50% in the United States.) But let’s not even talk about our second time marriage divorce rate…(60-70% in the the United States), it’s too embarrassing.
The thing is though that a lot of people I know and have grown up with and with whom I’ve fantasized about our individual “Prince Charmings” are getting married, and I’m just not all right. I think at first, when people started getting engaged, it just seemed like a distant “Well yeah, of course I knew they were going to get married eventually” kind of feeling. But now that the dates are rolling in, the knots are being tied, and the pictures are being posted, and it’s REAL. It’s “THIS IS OUR LIFE NOW.”
Why I think about myself collectively with my generation I don’t know. I’m not sure how many other people do that, but for me when it comes to big life changes that most people will experience I have to see it collectively. When we all graduated from college, despite our differing universities and degrees and future paths it felt like a big, mutual accomplishment. When we started getting our first “real jobs,” it was exciting and united. When we all start going through menopause I might finally feel back on track because marriage is a little different. We’re not all going to get married at the same time. Some of us probably won’t even get married. Some of us don’t even have significant others right now. Some of us love the single life. Some of us hate it vehemently. Some of us want to get married for the wrong reasons. Some of us want to get married for the right ones but are with the wrong person. Some of us just don’t know what the hell they’re doing. (This girl!)
Sometimes I take a step back and wonder if I’m envious of these girls. If I’m jealous that they’re getting their “Happily Ever After,” and I’m sitting over here jaded in the shadows like a Disney villain—a fiendishly warped artistic rendering of the heroine princess. Well, at least I have no plans to curse anyone’s first born or put anyone in a fruit-induced coma. No, I think I’d rather figure out this life thing instead.
I don’t know if I ever want to get married. When I think about fulfilling that traditional feminine, “the husband is the head of the wife” role, I want to scream or punch something. I know that we’re in “modern times” now, and having a three-course meal on the table every night when your husband gets home and giving up your career in order to raise the children is not considered mandatory by most people anymore.
Although it’s certainly not completely out of the realm of possible expectations depending on the man you marry and his upbringing. Ultra-Christian men especially scare me. Being a Christian myself, every book and mentor is telling me to seek a man that seeks God first which is great, but sometimes there gets to be this twisted seeking God first turns into self-righteous blasphemy that “Christian Culture” (not Christianity itself) seems to accept if not necessarily outright endorse. Essentially, being an independent and strong-willed woman with a career-minded focus and personal goals starts to look threatening to certain types of men. I’ve fortunately never dated any though I have met them, and I wish I hadn’t. I’m sure it was useful to be given an illustration of who NOT to marry. But then there’s also the nagging fear that the older I get without a husband and still try to participate in church activities, the more resistance I might get from women in the Church (aka the wives). I‘ve heard the stories of single woman who are involved in churches being looked down upon as husband-hungry hussies. I don’t ever want someone in the Church to look at me like that. But because of who I am—a young, attractive, and independent woman—I fear that happening at some point.
All I really want is to feel fulfilled in life, and I don’t think that a marriage is going to do that for me. Facebook and all the Bride Pride likes to suggest otherwise—that your life is complete once you’ve exhausted all those creative DIY pins on your wedding Pinterest board—but that just isn’t true. Our lives are more than that perfect cake topper or wedding favor or photo-shoot. Our futures are worth more than the perfect dress or the perfect shoes or the perfect venue. Our “Happily Ever After” is more than a wedding. There’s the “After” too that we have to figure out how to navigate. A lot of my peers are doing that right now. I may never do it. I kind of just want to find my “Happily.” That would actually be quite good with me!
I think if I had to put a moral to this, here’s what I’ve concluded:
- All the marriages look like “Happily Ever Afters,” but they’re really just life.
- There’s no point in being jealous that someone is living life, even if it’s differently than you.
- Don’t marry the Crazy Christian who doesn’t accept women as individuals. In fact, don’t marry a man that doesn’t except woman as individuals in general. That’s way too 20th century.
- There’s nothing wrong with the single life. Just live.
- And finally, your life can be complete without a fulfilled Pinterest wedding board.
So everybody’s getting married, and I’m not all right. Not yet at least. It’s a work in progress. But that doesn’t mean I’m not happy for everyone who is getting married. (Yay! Congratulations!) Rather, I’m having to learn what it’s like to be part of a generational movement without actually participating. It doesn’t make sense, I know. But I’m coming to understand that just because I’m not doing everything my peers are doing doesn’t mean I’m falling behind in life.