I don’t have any plans to get married or engaged anytime soon, but I came across a website called A Practical Wedding recently that I can’t stop reading. There are so many essays that explore relationships and your place in them that really resonate with me.
One of my favorites is “It’s Still Worth It.” The comments, in particular, made my chest tighten up and a ray of hope shoot out from somewhere. The comment from MegsMom in particular is my favorite. I’m just going to post a bulk of it here:
“I often compare a good marriage to job that you really, really love.
I have spent my career years as a teacher. I love it. I am passionate about it. I always have felt and thought that it was something that I was called to do. Over the years, I have had bad days, bad weeks, bad months. I have had bad YEARS. Years where by November 1, I couldn’t wait for the year to end. Long stretches in which I wanted to tear my hair out and scream by the end of almost every day. For most of my career, I taught in neighborhoods in which the kids had almost every card in the deck stacked against them, and I sometimes felt that what I did for them was a hopelessly inconsequential drop in the bucket.
But did I want to quit teaching? I would sometimes fantasize about it. A couple of times I went so far as to investigate what additional training I would need in order to switch careers. But when it came down to a serious decision, I always chose to stay. Teaching gave me so much joy, so much satisfaction, and the kids returned so much love. And every time a kid’s face literally lit up with the realization that they understood something new, I felt that I had had a small part in the making of that miracle.
If your marriage is that: up times, down times, struggling times, and every once in a while miracle times, however small, then it is well worth helping each other find ‘the courage to love in the face of uncertainty.'”
When you hear “you just know” from so many people when it comes to choosing a future spouse, I get so frustrated. I don’t “just know” about ANYTHING. I hem and haw over which grocery store to go to every week, for goodness sake. How am I supposed to feel completely sure about a much bigger decision, even with time?
While the person who wrote this essay and I do not share the same situation, many of the sentiments are the same. This part particularly comforted me:
“As somewhat of a self-identified hopeless romantic who has always been giddy about the prospect of sharing my life with a partner whom I truly love, for some strange reason I thought the act of getting married and choosing that partner would be different. That it would be immune to the anxious rules that govern my decision-making skills, even though they especially govern huge decisions that will affect me for the rest of my life. I was a little disappointed when I realized that as we started to seriously consider getting engaged, my thoughts were overrun with the same overanalyzing and anxiety I’ve always experienced. Eventually I had to come to grips with the reality that this wasn’t going to be some magical “you-just-know” moment for me. I don’t work that way. I had a great talk recently with a newly wed friend who is similarly indecisive like me and she wisely told me that for people like us, we can’t hold on to a romanticized hope that our brain will just function differently for this one big decision. And it’s okay to analyze it, try to make sense of it in our minds, and that analyzing does not in any way indicate that you shouldn’t be marrying him. That was a relief to hear because not only had I been thinking about the stress of making such a huge decision, I had been worried that because of the fact I thought about how difficult this decision was, it somehow meant that we shouldn’t actually be getting married. The analyzing only indicates that’s how you work, that’s how you make big decisions, according to my friend. And in the end you should trust yourself and know that you’ve never in your life made a big decision that was flawlessly easy, that you were 100% at rest with. This wasn’t going to be that way either. And that is okay.”
I’m hoping that in the next year or two, I have a good idea about where I’d like to be with this relationship long-term. In the words of the second essay, I have a new goal for this time: “Come to a place where you feel like you can trust yourself to make a good and solid decision about marrying.” Because honestly, I don’t even know how I feel about the institution itself.