Whew, we’ve survived another wedding season! Now there’s a small window to recharge and safely scroll through our Facebook and Instagram feeds where apples and pumpkins, autumn leaves and warm blankets replace white gowns and sparkly rings. Until the holidays arrive and the next wave of engagement announcements come sure as sugar cookies and watching Elf.
That’s not coming from bitterness, I promise. Like many of my fellow ladies, I’m in a happy, healthy relationship and we’ve talked about marriage as much as he’s diced onions for me. In other words, pretty regularly. We know with our whole hearts that we want to spend the rest of our lives together and start a family. We know what our first song as husband and wife will be and we like to brainstorm possible wedding venues. We discuss where we envision raising our children and how we’re going to coordinate holiday get-togethers with our families.
We don’t need a ring to talk about our future together—or, even more so, be taken seriously for what’s to come.
But there’s this underlying pressure in our society that if there’s no ring on the finger, there’s no “guarantee” of a future together. Sure, long-term partnerships without marriage are increasingly more prominent, but that’s not going to stop everyone and their mother from asking you, “So, are you next?”
I don’t know, am I? Is that your way of asking if we’ve discussed marriage and are serious about it, or are you just hoping there’ll be a big party soon?
This question (or some variation of it) became part of people’s greetings to my S.O. and I as soon as we hit the two-year marker. We’re almost at three years and our answer hasn’t changed—except maybe that I’ve fallen even more in love with him as we’ve continued growing and building our life together.
No matter how steadfast you and your significant other are in your choices about when to get married, it’s hard not to doubt yourself even just the tiniest smidgen when another engagement announcement comes around, or you have to explain again to your great aunt at a family event why there’s no ring on your finger.
And hey, it’s okay. We’ve all been there and felt that, we understand. Then we shake off that doubt and keeping enjoying life in our happy, healthy, unmarried relationship.
But if you need a little pick-me-up or something to nod your head to, I gotchu. Hold your head up high when Great Aunt Edna asks if you’re going to get married soon and smile to yourself. Sure, maybe things will be different at next year’s annual family event, but enjoy the phase you and your S.O. are in now. Here’s five reminders why it’s okay to be happy and in a loving relationship with no ring on your finger:
1. Weddings are an effort to plan. Not that I’ve had any experience planning my own, but I’ve seen up close how much effort they are—and that’s not even discussing the expenses. Even just thinking about a guest list gives me anxiety and I’m no designer, but I have a feeling I’ll try to be for a full year at some time. Now’s the time to relax and not have to worry about entertaining 150+ people in the foreseeable future.
2. If you both are happily together, then what’s the rush? I know, uber cliché. But it’s true. As long as you’re both on the same page and loving your lives together, the importance of the “titles” fade away. I realize this is subjective so take it for what you will, but a few extra months, even another year or 2 while you continue growing and building a life together—how really different would that extra time be? In 5, 10 years will that super-serious-but-not-engaged time of your relationship not matter as much as the engaged part? Remember to soak in the little moments and live in the present with your partner, whichever phase you’re in.
3. Remember that your wedding is going to be one day. (Okay, a few more than that once you add the engagement celebration, bachelorette party, rehearsal dinner, honeymoon, etc.etc.—but it’s officially only one day.) Yes, rumor has it that your wedding day is going to be the best day of your life, but it doesn’t define your relationship. I repeat, it does not define your relationship. In the grand scheme of things, it’s one day out of literally thousands spent together. Every day’s affections, support, laughter, and connection matter just as much as that one.
4. It’s no secret that weddings are expensive. The average wedding costs about $35,000 and honestly, I’d so much rather put that kind of money toward our future. It’s conflicting because yes, I’m going to want a beautiful awesome wedding, but I also want to get out of debt, move somewhere where we can settle, and generally be smart about our finances and future. Interesting how our generation has been hit hard with financial burdens and simultaneously upping the anty on wedding expectations. It just so happens thousands of dollars toward a wedding could honestly be better well spent during this time in our lives. It’s not a fun truth, I admit, but we’re both upfront about how we want to manage our money, and a wedding doesn’t cut the top priorities list.
5. Hey, at least you’re not getting asked about when you’re going to have kids. That’s a whole other topic you don’t have to think about yet, so enjoy it while it lasts.
Don’t let that ring (or lack thereof) define you, and be sure to hold back the eye rolls when you’re asked about marriage during the upcoming holidays. You and your S.O. are a team and you got this. You know you love each other and will spend your future together, and at the end of the day that’s all that really matters right now.