I am 21 and engaged.
If you had asked me three years ago whether I foresaw any type of engagement in my near future, I would say of course not – I’m too young.
Indeed, I still catch myself shaking my head when I see Facebook posts of people my age getting married and having children, because I know that I’m not there yet, so I can’t imagine that anyone else could be.
However, my perspectives are changing and so are ideas of engagements and marriages.
For a generation where almost half of the children grew up in divorced households, marriage doesn’t hold that magical allure. Marriage is scary, people do it for the wrong reasons and it always seems to tear people apart, not keep them together.
I’ll admit, the idea of a wedding and a dress and a honeymoon, of buying a house and “starting a family,” is still very far off in my mind.
The point of an engagement is not, to me, about setting a date and picking out bridesmaids. It’s not even about other people. An engagement is at its core an understanding between two people that they are committed to each other and to the relationship that they have built.
On that note, I didn’t have a traditional engagement.
My boyfriend (fiancé) didn’t go buy an expensive ring and take me out to a special place to pop the question with convenient cameras rolling. We didn’t take an engagement selfie or do anything public.
To other people, that method of proposing works and makes them very happy. To me, it feels staged and forced and one-sided.
One person is always waiting for the question to be asked, and when it happens it inevitably falls short of the fantasy they had of it.
I didn’t want to pretend like we hadn’t already decided a long time ago to commit to each other.
I didn’t need him to ask me in a particular way with a particular piece of jewelry to know that he wants to marry me, and I want to marry him. And if we both knew, there was no point in waiting.
I also feel it is important to distinguish between getting engaged and deciding to get married.
My fiancé and I are not running down to the courthouse first thing to get a marriage license, nor are we asking our families to finance a wedding. We know that it is going to take a while, and we love that.
Our relationship will be the same whether we are engaged, married, or just “committed.”
The marriage is not our goal; it’s an extension of our goals.
My point is that I am not irresponsible or naïve or blinded by love for getting engaged at 21. My engagement is not a starting point in my relationship, it’s a milestone.
I don’t assume that things will get better with marriage, because I never really saw that work out for my parents.
Instead, I aim for an open, honest and real relationship that culminates in an expression of our commitment, because that’s what marriage is supposed to be.
Originally published in the Feb. 17, 2016 print edition of The Echo
image via www.stcloudcountryclub.com