Saturday, December 29, 2012

You don't have to be rich to get married

I'm going to say this loud and clear. There are many things you should be and do by the time you are ready to commit to a life long partner.  But first, I'm going to tell you what you don't have to be.

You don't need to be rich to get married. You don't need to be settled in a career. You don't need to be thirty. You don't need to be ready to have kids. You don't have to have kids. You don't have to have a car, a house or any serious assets (though an IRA you contribute $50 a month to wouldn't be a horrible idea).  You don't have to live together to "try things out" before you get engaged. You don't have to have a huge, borderline ridiculous event or a magnificent diamond (especially considering environmental or conflict implications).  You don't have to be religious.  You don't have to believe in gender roles. All of those expectations were based on traditions that largely have no meaning anymore except for the meaning we, as individuals and as a society, give them.

We tend to view marriage as a step in maturity. It is and it should be.  You need to be financially supporting yourselves or able to support each other (and not living, as a married couple, in a parent's basement).  You should talk to each other about finances and come to a reasonable agreement about spending and saving money. You should negotiate and problem solve through tricky minefields such as familial relations and expectations for you individually and as a couple.  You should come to an agreement about sharing household responsibilities and understand why the other person comes to the conclusions they come to.  You should at least be on the same page about children, whether you decide to have them or not have them. You shouldn't be surprised if your partner changes or doesn't and above all, you need to recognize that marrying someone is a gigantic leap of faith and trust that one should carefully consider and take seriously.

Otherwise, do what you want. Start a business, join the Peace Corps, backpack across a continent of your choice, get your Master's, write a book, have a kid, buy a house, live on a boat, study with monks,  adopt a kid, run a campaign, raise sea monkeys, own a farm, the choice is yours. Marriage doesn't have to mean anything other than an intended lifelong commitment to each other and to whatever deity you profess, if you indeed profess one (understanding the obligations of your faith if you do).  It's your destiny. Do what you feel would fulfill your life and leave the opinions of your life to those who wish theirs were more exciting. 

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