My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost six years. We've lived together for most of our relationship, we've traveled all over the world together, and we do annoying things like finish each other's sentences on accident. It's gross. But sweet. His family is my family, and my family is his. We're both in our late 20s, work our dream jobs, and share a home in a city we love with a sassy white cat who curls up at our feet (or on our faces) each night when we go to sleep. Our relationship has gotten stronger and stronger with each passing year and through each new challenge and triumph we've faced.
And we have absolutely no marriage plans. Get the f*ck over it.
I was born and raised in a part of the country where the traditional trajectory of adult life goes like so: graduate high school, go to college, meet significant other in college, graduate college, get married to college sweetheart. Live happily ever after?
This path was never part of my plans. It's a perfect option for some couples, just not for me. Still, as time has gone by, the empty space on my ring finger has gotten to be quite the talking point for people, and for some reason, they seem to care way more about my lack of impending nuptials than the actual people involved in my relationship (just me and boyfriend, last time I checked) do. At holidays, weddings, and even among friends, we constantly get variations of the (nosy and kind of awkward) question "When are you two getting married?"
Having a healthy relationship doesn't mean having a goal of marriage in mind — it means being on the same page with each other, whatever that page may be.
Trust me, I know there are significantly more offensive questions someone can ask. This one, however, can get pretty grating after the, say, 100th time you hear it. It (almost) always comes from people who just love us and want what's best for us, but the problem is, by asking the unwarranted question, you're implying that marriage is what's best for us. And it's not. We're not opposed to marriage (OK, well my partner isn't, at least), but we also have a great thing going doing exactly what we've been doing for years, and we see no reason to rock the boat.
Society forces many people to feel that at a certain point in a relationship, marriage is the necessary next step — and those who feel pressure sometimes take this step even if they are not financially (or worse, emotionally) ready to do so. There's also a common misconception that a relationship isn't truly "complete" until someone puts a ring on it, and that, I must say, is utter bullsh*t.
Ask us where we plan to travel next, ask us about our work lives, ask us about that time we accidentally got lost in a national park in Northern California for hours and almost didn't make it back before the sun went down and we were stuck there all night. Ask us if we're happy. Ask us about the damn cat — but please, don't ask us when we're getting married. In doing so, you're completely missing the point.
Having a healthy relationship doesn't mean having a goal of marriage in mind — it means being on the same page with each other, whatever that page may be. For us, it means trying new things, it means (over)sharing every bit of information about our lives with each other, it means getting our favorite meal at our favorite restaurant and basking in just how boring we can be, it means coming back to our apartment at the end of a terrible day and finding that home is wherever we both are together. We don't want to spend our money on a wedding and certainly not on a diamond ring I don't want and would never wear. For now, we want to spend our money on things that help us make memories we'll have forever. Am I saying we'll never get married? I don't know if we will or not, and I don't really care right now.
We spent almost the entirety of our 20s focused on our careers, on our travel adventures, on making mistakes and learning from them, on celebrating our successes and on supporting each other throughout our failures. On loving each other. Isn't that what married couples promise to do for each other, too? Love each other and support each other unconditionally? What difference does it make if there's a binding legal document telling us what we already know, which is that we are committed to each other 100 percent? If that's enough for us (and, spoiler alert, it is), then it should plenty for everyone else, too.