I’m Not Getting Married in My 20s and Here’s Why

I’m Not Getting Married in My 20s and Here’s Why

I want to walk an aisle with the best brain (and heart) possible.

11
views

Wedding season is thick this August; social media is a blur of white dresses, first dances, and bouquets, and I've typed the heart emoji more times than I care to admit.

Wildfires may be raging across portions of the U.S., making wedding skies orange and hazy, but love and commitment are raging all the more!

It also seems to be baby season. Facebook, too, likes to remind me of baby bumps and the need for new strollers and maternity photoshoots. Many soon-to-be new mothers were high school peers; many brides are fellow college graduates.

I could not be happier for the humans in my life who are embarking on these ripe, powerful journeys, with men, women, or infants at their sides. I drool as much as the next person over the Instagram stories and social media albums, and I have spent more time than I care to admit wondering if I have the audacity to serve peanut butter cups at my future reception.

But I'm stuck in the middle of this decade everyone keeps talking about, and I'm not panting for someone to slide a ring on my finger. In fact, if I can help it, I'm not getting married in my 20s—like everyone else, it seems, is.

There's nothing wrong with me—I'm not predicting a future of cat companions and china bowls. There's nothing bitter in me, either. Let the ceremonies swirl on, but I won't be the center of any of them just yet. Here's why.

My brain matters more.

Science, time and again, has asserted that our brains are not done firing, meshing, and getting to know themselves until we turn approximately 25 or 26. In fact, studies also suggest that the brain keeps maturing well into our thirties.

Some people like the idea of developing and maturing with their partners. I like this idea too. My vision of an ideal relationship is one that involves a healthy dollop of collaboration and commitment to a partner's ebbs and flows and self-discovery.

Yet this statistic has me a little concerned. I want to walk an aisle with the best brain (and heart) possible. I don't want to walk it one day and then wake up three years later to the firing of opposite neurons, telling me that that really wasn't all that good of an idea.

I want to offer my future person the best version of myself, at this point in time, on this whirling globe of change. I like to think that that best version of myself also contains wizened, matured neurology, too. I want my partner to feel the same way. Offering anything less is like offering a deflated flan to someone on Christmas (sad).

I've gotten really close with divorce.

My parents divorced during my first year of college. This is no shocking news. After all, America's current divorce rate hovers between forty and fifty percent of all married couples.

Let's just say I got up close and personal with the shards of divorce. At the time I couldn't see it, but now I realize that divorce was the painful solution to a pressing need: my parents' individual needs to honor themselves because they didn't get a chance to do that before saying I do.

A very dear childhood friend got married at 21 and divorced a year or two later, for a similar reason. I was there as she prepared for the divorce; I was there when she told me that what she had really wanted, all along, was to finish her degree, pursue a career, get to know herself.

My heart broke, in the end, for the fact that divorce had to be the pathway to these lovely humans' self-knowledge.

I know divorce is unavoidable for some individuals. In some cases, it is the only exit for people in abusive or dangerous situations. Yet I don't want it to be my band-aid for not taking the time I need with myself.

I am vital and I need answers.

I graduated from college five years ago, but that doesn't make it far away. I feel as if I was skimming syllabi and dozing in lecture halls a mere week ago. I miss the thrill and ride of college life, sometimes, its vitality, and then I realize that I still have it all—the undergraduate's desire to learn, to travel, to keep seeking.

I'll have these desires and this vitality for years to come. I'm not saying that marriage won't permit me to be vital. But there's a difference between individual vitality and vital partnership.

I love commitment. I love being in love. I like knowing that I am invested in someone else's welfare, in the way that they sleep, beyond just relatives and friends. As a wife, I'll want to love in that way, and no ounce less.

Right now, I want to devote that surging vitality to me. I want answers to the questions I am still asking. I choose to keep asking these questions because I know I am still learning, seeking, growing.

In this sense, giving myself the benefit of my own vitality will ensure that I'll be all the more vital as a future partner.

Don't get me wrong—there was a time when I was ready to get married right out of college. I almost did.

But then I realized that my motivations for marriage did not fall on this list; they got swept up in all that white tulle and teary vows. I liked the images and the albums of marriage, the ritual, the energy. I liked the idea that I was following the path I had been taught: as a woman, you go to school, you get married, you have babies.

I didn't even comprehend the idea that I could matter more than all of that--the narrative and the ceremony. And that I should.

I want the same for my partner.

I'm not the only one benefiting from all of these thoughts. I want the same vitality, space, and self-love for my future partner, too. I want the playing field to be even and easy.

But everyone else is on a different racetrack. The only solution to getting on the same page is time.

And I'm personally a big fan of taking as much time as both of us need to get to our best and most ready selves.

Popular Right Now

An Open Letter To The Men Who Love Women

#MakeWomenFeelSafeAgain

26
views

I'm going to cut right to the chase and just get a few facts out of the way.

1. Sexual assault is an issue. It exists, 100%.

2. Sexual assault is far too common and happening far too often.

3. Women are being told how to prepare and defend themselves from sexual assault, and men aren't being taught how to avoid doing it.

Do you not understand that the number of women who are speaking out about sexual assault is nothing compared the total number of women in the world who have been sexually assaulted?

Being accused of sexual assault is a horrible thing, but being a victim of it is a lot worse.

As women, we prepare to defend ourselves and watch our backs to keep from ending up in a situation where we are taken advantage of. It is time to stop saying "boys will be boys" and teach our men about consent and respect for women. Men need to be taught how to ask for consent and how to directly discuss their sexual intentions with a female without making them feel pressured or insulted.

How on earth could you say a woman was not sexually assaulted if a man never asked for consent or both people involved were not in the right state of mind to consent? This goes for any man or woman in any situation. Whether the woman in question is a stranger, a life-long friend, or an old flame you, need to ask for consent every single time. Prior sexual experiences with another person or a close relationship with a person does not disqualify them from needing to consent.

You need direct consent from anyone you intend on touching.

The men you hear of being accused of sexual assault and their reactions tend to be similar: confused, angry, embarrassed, and defensive.

I understand that many men who have been accused feel as if they didn't sexually assault anyone and felt as if the sexual experience was something both parties agreed on. If men would take more time to consider their situation at hand, they wouldn't have to justify or defend it later. Know exactly how a woman feels before you touch her. Know exactly what a woman expects before you touch her. Know exactly what an unforced, relaxed "yes" to consent sounds like.

You may not have meant to cause a woman harm, but you did because you neglected to fully understand a woman's worth and show her respect before becoming intimate. Mistakes happen, but you cannot stop something that you didn't even attempt to prevent.

When it comes to defending yourself or another man against sexual assault accusations or charges, think of a woman that you love. You have at least one woman in your life who you love whether it be you baby sister, your mother, your daughter, your cousin, the waitress who always remembers your order and so on.

How would you feel if a woman you love was sexually assaulted and wanted to come out about her experience to help other women from having to experience such a traumatizing experience or to take back the dignity that was physically stripped from her body?

You would want that woman to come to you. You would want to defend her and protect her. You would want to do everything in your power to ease her pain.

Respect your women, love your women, and believe your women. Make women feel safe again.

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

How to Talk to People Who Don't Agree with You

These difficult conversations can be the linchpin of meaningful change.

171
views

I hate to reiterate a truism that is nearly become cliché: we live in divided times. I feel these divides when I brew tea in the morning, scroll through Instagram, and chat with peers. I especially feel them when I visit my family or read the news.

These divides appear most painfully (and sadly) in conversations. Words are more powerful now than ever before, and they are leaving an alarming trail of debris and damage behind them.

Divided times mean more difficult conversations. It's easy to sidestep these conversations; I'm guilty of avoiding challenging chats. (I'd prefer to read a book and drink espresso, you know?)

Yet these difficult conversations are urgent. They may be the linchpin of meaningful change. They may also be the linchpin of personal change and community growth. We need to talk about what's going on out there, and especially with those "from the other side."

Keep these things in mind as you go about preparing to have those tough talks with people who don't quite share your perspective.

Drop the "us vs. them" mentality.

Conversations about the pros and cons of vaping, who should be president next, or abortion (eep!) can easily create "sides." These camps of support or opposition are ultimately not helpful for anything beyond political polls. They can be fundamentally divisive when brought into a conversation.

It can be tempting to join these camps once the other party begins to speak. Do what you can to abandon this mentality, however. Ask the other party to do so as well—respectfully and kindly.

You may struggle to step into this mental space of neutrality. The next few tips can help you lay down this boxing-ring mentality more easily.

Take a breath before you speak—every time.

I made the same point in my post about productive arguing. Having conversations with people who don't share your perspective can feel like arguments. They may hover over vast wells of emotion. They may become an argument.

To ensure that your conversation doesn't tip so closely into a shouting match, focus on your breath.

Take a deep belly breath before you speak, and try to do so every time you open your mouth. Be sure the other party is done speaking before you respond, and ask if he or she is finished before doing so.

A single breath can give you grounding, disintegrate any latent spiky emotion (anger, fear), and help you speak more slowly.

Ask more questions.

I love questions. They are vehicles for productive discussion and they can flatter, in a way, the person you're conversing with. Questions give you a chance to catch your breath and your partner to explore their perspective further.

Both can be valuable, especially if you're feeling resistant to or triggered by something the other person has said. The more time your conversation partner has to really outline their reasoning, the more insight you can have into their perspective—which can neutralize triggering emotions and even bring some empathy into the mix.

Ask considerate, open questions, such as "Can you elaborate on that point more?" or "Can you give me an example?" These questions show your interest in learning more and can be delivered sans emotion.

End the conversation with agreement.

After a difficult conversation, things may feel a bit rocky. Try to smooth out these normal rocks by ending the conversation in the spirit of agreement.

This may mean changing the subject. It may mean asking your partner: "What can we agree on here?" Mention that you'd like to close the conversation on brighter terms. This means that the last word will be a positive, shared one—you may even go out to ice cream after!

A lot of what I discuss here has to do with active listening and presence. It can be hard to channel these habits into a prickly conversation, so even if you're only able to integrate these tips for part of a discussion, bravo!

Here's to productive conversations—and the positive change they enforce.

Related Content

Facebook Comments