I am a 25-year-old woman, happy, single, and I like my life the way it is. But if I receive one more wedding invitation in the mail, I going to scream. It’s not that I’m jealousI’m in no way ready to settle downbut I feel some sort of weird pressure about it. I know it’s wrong to think that at 25 I’m heading into old-maid-dom, but it’s hard to remain Happy Single Girl while watching every one of my friends walking down the aisle. What gives?
Melinda B., Hillsboro Village
BEN: First of all, before we talk about your feelings of peer pressure, let’s discuss the oppressive nature of weddings themselves. Every summer of my 20s has been a virtual land mine of nuptials. Spring is probably my favorite season of the year. Yet as much as I look forward to it, I dread the stack of monogrammed white envelopes that will appear in my mailbox.
Let me get one thing straight for everyone I know out there planning on ruining my Saturday with their ”love“: Leave me out of it. I do not, I repeat, do not care about your relationship, what your gown looks like, who does your catering, or who you did or didn’t decide to invite. Do not expect that because you consider an invitation to your wedding to be some sort of gracious gift, I am going to show up with a Cuisinart to show my appreciation.
Forcing me to spend a Saturday afternoon in a monkey suit eating finger foods I can’t fill up on before I start guzzling wine to dull the pain is not a pleasureit’s an aggravation. Not to mention the very problem Melinda brings up in the first place: If you show up with a date, then the only conversation anyone will offer is, ”When are you getting married?“
Which brings us to the reason why I have no respect for weddings and why you should not be ashamed of refusing to buy into this marketing trap. Weddings have nothing to do with your relationship, or marriage for that matter. It’s about everybody else who wants you to do it so they can get off vicariously on your pleasure or pain. It’s about the checks sent to the caterers, the dressmakers, the tux renters, and even the priest. If you truly love someone and are confident in your relationship, you don’t need 200 people and an ostentatious display to prove it to anyone or make it ”official.“ People will know anyway. And if they don’t, who cares? You and the other person know, and that’s the only thing that really matters.
I wonder if you took away the gifts, the money, the bachelor parties, the bridal showers, and the all-around ego gratification, how many people you know would have still gotten married. Your friends are flocking to the altar because they’re afraid that if they don’t follow the rules, they will spend a lifetime of misery. Go your own way, do the things that make you feel fulfilled regardless of what anyone else thinks. Stay single. Get married. Move in with somebody. Sleep with everyone in sight. Just do it on your own terms, and leave me out of it.
DANNY: People are lemmings. They work from this timeline that says: graduate college, get married, have children, do your best to crawl out of the debt incurred by each of the aforementioned, and die. Deviate from that, and your destiny suddenly gets narrowed down to Crazy Never-Married Lady with 37 cats or Old Weird Guy at the bar gumming his beer and talking to the pretzels. Thing is, it’s not that black and white. First of all, people in their early to mid-20s are way too young to be getting married. So take comfort in thisyou’ll probably be ready to settle down around the time your friends are scanning the Yellow Pages for divorce lawyers.
I have a theory that, for women, it’s all about the attention. Graduate from high schooleverybody’s looking at you. Graduate collegemore hoopla. Then what? Go out in the big scary world all by yourself? Spend time alone? Travel? Get a job and learn what it’s like to be self-sufficient? No! Get married! Plans, presents, it’s all about you. And just when everyone finally gets around to throwing away your tacky, piece-of-crap wedding token, you’ll be pregnant and in need of a baby shower or 12.
I feel the pressure too, Melinda. I’m all the time getting, ”You’re doing it right: Live your life. Do what you want when you want. Don’t tie yourself down so young.“ Then in the same breath it’s, ”Are you ever going to settle down? Do you want to be this way forever? Don’t you get lonely?“ Right now, I’d rather be single for the rest of my life than be forever attached to the schmucks I’ve been dating. They make an eternity of cooking-for-one recipes and masturbation look good.
See, the reason that we feel all this pressure is that from an early age, we’re fed some serious Cinderella bullshit. You have to wait for The One, and he’s supposed to sweep you off our feet and you decide to get married because ”you just know.“ And you have this beautiful ceremony surrounded by friends and family and love and the bluebird of happiness sitting on your freaking shoulder. And you ride off into the sunset and live sappily ever after.
But here’s the reality: You meet someone, and you invest a lot of yourself and your time into this person, so you might as well marry him because it’s too much trouble to start over with someone else. You get engaged, and your friends want the details of how he asked, and his friends discuss getting a stripper who’ll go the distance for an extra C-note. So you make your plans, thinking everyone’s as excited as you are, but the whole time they’re mocking the cheap gold lettering on your invitations and thinking you look chunky in your dress.
And what’s waiting for you out where the sun sets? Unpaid bills, adultery, boredom, and an insurmountable pile of laundry.
Look, I know marriage isn’t all that badI’ve seen some pull it off and some really mess it up. It just makes me mad that a 25-year-old woman has to question herself for taking time out and living her life before ”she“ becomes a ”we.“ There’s a great book I’ve read many times called Perfect Husbandsand Other Fairy Tales, by Regina Barraca; it might help put things in perspective. In the meantime, support your friends, enjoy their weddings, eat their free food, drink their free booze, and stay far away from the bouquet until you’re good and ready.
Come to the light, wash your hands of these fools.
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