My husband, T, and I have been together for over five years. We have a four year-old son, a house, a joint checking account, and he is my emergency contact and I am his. We have built a life together, but we have only been married for three months.
I know I am not the first woman to meet a guy, fall in love, move in together, have a child and hold off on marriage. However, I might be one of the few to brag about this decision.
I grew up in a divorced household, and most of my friends’ parents were divorced… to my adolescent mind, divorce seemed as common as marriage. For this reason, marriage never held much meaning to me. Don’t get me wrong… I am in no way anti-romantic or anti-fairytale ending.
I always envisioned meeting a guy and having a family, but marriage was never a goal, mission or a desire of mine.
I always knew I would find someone I would want to spend my life with. But I knew marriage was hard and not a commitment I was going to take lightly.
Not long after I met T, I knew I wanted to spend my life with him. Our relationship progressed much as they all do. First I got a dresser drawer at his house for when I would stay over, then a section of his closet for my clothing, a toothbrush with a permanent residence, and finally I moved in. Soon, we were taking vacations together, doing home repair projects, and planning a future. Gradually, my friends and family began asking “when are you two getting married?” My response was always simple “who knows… I already feel like we are married” This was, in fact, true and even more so after my son was born. Yes, to my grandmother’s dismay, we had a child out of wedlock.
When we brought our son home from the hospital, we were no longer simply a couple, we were a family, and a marriage certificate was in no way going to change that for me.
Today, it is common enough to have a child out of marriage. For that reason, I never felt the pressure to get married while pregnant or soon after giving birth.
Raising a child is often a huge test on a couple. The stress, the sleepless nights, lack of time to oneself, finances, and the constant messes can put a strain on even the strongest of couples. As amazing as it was to have a beautiful newborn, and as much as I felt for the first time like we were a family… T and I fought. I was exhausted and would lash out, and he was frustrated with the mountains of laundry, piles of dirty dishes, and the sleepless nights. This magical newborn period became a huge test to our relationship.
I look back at this time and maybe in the back of my mind, not being married offered me an escape plan. In the deepest part of my mind, I figured that if we ended up hating each other, I could just leave without all the mess that could result from a divorce.
But honestly, even though it got tough, I never found myself wanting to walk away from the life we had built. Every fight, every sarcastic, passive/aggressive comment, and round of the blame game made us work harder and only made us stronger together.
We overcame the newborn phase and moved onto the toddler years. Life became less about sleepless night and more about childcare juggling and our destructive two year-old. We planned date nights, made fancy cocktails, and watched movies after putting our son to bed. We continued to work on our relationship. The topic of marriage occasionally came up, often when adult beverages were involved.
When three of us were out as a family, people would automatically call T my husband, or refer to me as his wife. Eventually, I learned it was easier to not correct them. I found myself pausing before calling T my “partner” or “boyfriend.” It became hard to use these labels because those words didn’t convey to the world my feelings for him. He is my rock, my best friend, my one and only.
The idea of marriage started to push to the front of my mind… but I wondered if marriage would really change anything. We had a stronger relationship than many people who had been married for years. He had seen me at my lowest, he knew how unreasonable, mean, and sensitive I could be. And he hadn’t left. I knew how stubborn, selfish, ridiculous, and obsessive he could be, and I hadn’t left. I also witnessed firsthand his nurturing, and attentive abilities as a father and provider.
One night, after being together for four years, we decided to get married. To be honest, when he asked me if I would marry him, I thought he was joking… turns out he wasn’t.
I had rearranged that old childhood chant “first comes love, then comes marriage…” If it were about me, it would be “first comes love, then comes the baby carriage… oh, then comes marriage.”
During the summer of 2016, surrounded by all of our friends, family, and our son, we finally got married. Getting married was not the most romantic day of my life. Our story, our challenges and cooperation, those newborn sleepless nights, the fights, and ultimately the choice to wait and not get married until we were absolutely ready for marriage… that has been the most romantic part of my life with my husband.