A twenty-year-old’s take
Everyone is born with a pair of rose colored glasses called “innocence,” but an unfortunate reality of this “gift” is that it is inevitably outgrown. With every passing year the lenses will start to feel snugger and snugger, until one day you will find that they no longer fit. Throughout my childhood and my teenage years the glasses covered most of my field of vision. But at twenty it’s almost as if they never existed. Shortly after I outgrew my glasses, I bid a farewell to a part of my life I was looking forward to since I was a little girl: I no longer wished to get married.
Upon entering college I began noticing patterns in mine and my friends’ familial lives that marked the start of my doubting of what marriage was and what it stood for. Parents of friends who seemed otherwise happy and loving were suddenly caught in messy lies, infidelity and eventually divorce. Everything positive I was ever taught about marriage began to feel insincere and fabricated. As I desperately scrambled for answers, I found that the story is all too familiar: a young couple weds, everything is perfect for some time, but then these inevitable problems begin to come up. Suddenly the couple starts to fight constantly, shower each other in insults and before they know it they’re sleeping in separate beds. Both parties have a lingering feeling that the other person is not who they agreed to marry and that they probably made a mistake. One of two things will happen in the next ten years of the relationship: the couple either separates or “selflessly ” stays together, in most cases for their children.
It is appropriate to wonder how these relationships manage to regress this badly. How does one go from feeling pure bliss and euphoria around their spouse to feeling like they are a complete stranger in a matter of years, sometimes even months? Moreover, why do almost fifty percent of marriages in the United States end in divorce? After careful consideration, I have come to the conclusion that people enter marriages with the wrong intentions. These intentions are often selfish: people feel like the whole point of getting married is for someone to “fix” or complete them. The truth is that until one learns how to love and accept themselves for what they are, they cannot expect to be in a lasting and fulfilling partnership. Another common trend is that people tend to enter serious relationships with this expectation that their partner will eventually mold themselves into the person of their dreams. More often than not, there is not even a basis for these hopes: the couple shares nothing in common. Otherwise they wouldn’t be expecting that big of a change in their partner. People forget that the whole point of marrying a person is loving them for what they are and working through life’s ups and downs together, not loving the idea of what they want them to be. If one can’t love someone exactly for who they are without listing their personal list of “terms and conditions,” they should probably reconsider why they are even pursuing a relationship with this person to begin with.
Then you have deeply religious couples that rush into marriage only because they want to have sex. Others choose to get married only because it’s socially pressured and not because they have any real desire to do so. There are also people who simply want to start a family and are willing to do it with the first person who crosses their path. During these moments, one’s “special person” may seem like “the one”, but nothing will ever constitute the health of a relationship except for time and circumstances. People change and life messes us up. Obstacles will be thrown in our paths that will bring out the worst in ourselves and our partners. But these lows exist so that couples can get through them together. It’s to look in one’s special person’s eyes and think, “yes, this is exactly why I chose you.” Alas, the hardships happen later when the marriage papers have been signed, the honeymoon phase is over and when life suddenly has you hunched over gasping for breath. And more often than not, that initial realization typically comes along the lines of “who the hell did I marry?”
I firmly believe that only time will tell if a person is right for someone. People in the United States wed anywhere fresh out of high school to their early thirties. However, these years indicate a time during which most people are still on a path of self-discovery. In their twenties, people make a huge transition from being a young adult with little sense of maturity or independence to fully functioning on their own. During this period, it is normal to change one’s perceptions of romantic relationships or what they are looking for in a partner. This shift in values is critical because it represents necessary growth. How are we supposed to know that a person that someone meets in their young adulthood is exactly what they need forever, especially when we are in a state of perpetual change? It is very bold to think that a person someone meets in their twenties is exactly what they need for the rest of their lives; we are not going to be the same person at fifty as we were at twenty. Human beings are constantly evolving; we are not even the same person we were yesterday. People do not understand the permanence of marriage because forever means “till death do us part.” It is incredibly hard to internalize our mortality when we are this young.
Because of my young age I acknowledge that there’s a reasonable chance of me changing my mind in the years to come. But as of right now, I really do not see the appeal behind marriage. I pride myself on being a risk taker. Nothing scares me. But one thing does scare me. It is coming home to the one I love most, telling them about my day and feeling that gut-wrenching sensation of knowing that they do not care. It is looking back on old wedding photos and feeling like the person next to the smiling woman in the white dress is a stranger. Some risks are worth taking, but there’s a fifty percent chance that my marriage might fall under the “failed relationship” statistic. I’m good.