When it comes to marriage, stroll to the altar (don't run!)

portrait of a young woman receiving a marriage proposal from a young man

Admittedly, I'm in that phase of my 20s when groups of my friends, most of which are the same age or or in their very early 30s are doing the "settling down thing" in a plethora of ways: moving in together, getting engaged, actually getting married, having kids -- the whole nine! It's a bit overwhelming, and while I am thrilled for all of my friends who have found someone they can spend their lives with, I had mixed feelings for a while as to whether I was "behind the curb" in terms of finding that kind of happiness for myself...

OK, let me level here: For a little while, I thought something was wrong with me for not heading towards the altar at all (and believe me, it doesn't help to tell my family that USA Today put out a whole story about how its OK to wait). So, like many other women, I was a bit hard on myself, wondering what I could have done to have such "difficult" luck in finding that special someone.

Soon though, I started to let other things into my life and channel my energies into other directions: getting more into my career, finding other hobbies that I genuinely enjoy, spend lots more time with my friends, think about my next weekends as opposed to my next several years with someone... In time, I realized I was enjoying all these things flying solo -- and, I haven't met someone who's made me want to factor them into my long-term quite yet.

Then, this weekend, I met a couple right in Chicago: the gentleman, Andrew, was an alum of my undergrad, and his wife, Lisa. We were at a cookout and in talking to them I learned a lot, quickly: it was the second marriage for both. And, for Lisa, her first marriage, which ended in divorce, had lasted for 25 years -- to a teenage sweetheart, no less.

In any case, she shared her stories, talking about how young she was and the fact that he was a first for her in many ways... Something that at the time seemed to mean a lot. However, it was in the way she talks about her current husband, with stars in her eyes, and how she lights up when he enters a room that made me realize that at this point that she's found her love. Both of them have grown children now. However, they've found each other and they couldn't be any happier. She later told me that it was when she was really happy -- doing things for herself, had her own independence, living her own life -- that she was able to find happiness for herself in the form of Andrew.

In all honesty, I was warm inside, listening to their story. People fall in love, get married and break-up all the time. But, to find your life mate and the person that makes you that happy? Well, that's just rare and so special and happens when the stars are aligned the way they need to be for you, whether that's at 28 or 68.

Listening to Lisa's story, I realized a couple of things:

  • Being with someone doesn't mean it's time to rush to the altar: You can enjoy someone's company... But that doesn't quite mean wedding bells.
  • Everyone's time line is different: There's no telling when you find your match. So, running to the altar? Maybe stroll!

At the heart of it, I'm an optomist. And, I'm convinced that when it comes down to it all, that you never know WHEN your love will come knocking. Do I want to get married? Sure! Kids? I've always imagined it happening. But, if it means holding out a bit until it comes? Then that may not be such a bad idea...

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