Marriage is not a priority for me. As a child, before I was old enough to comprehend just how archaic and antiquated a traditional marriage is, I just assumed it was something that would happen. At 10 years old, I pictured I'd be married with kids by the time I hit my mid-20s. A career was never part of this imagined future; just a white wedding, a white house, a white picket fence, and since I'm white and I assumed my husband would be white (I was raised in New Hampshire, sigh), two white kids to go with it all. Years later, as I remember all this "whiteness," I now equate it with vanilla. I thumb my nose at vanilla.
When I read Jessica Bennett's essay in The New York Times, "Missing the Boat: A Case for Marriage," I was conflicted. Like me, she had always envisioned the conventional life that marriage provides, but when her boyfriend of a year proposed, her immediate response of "yes" turned into "I'm not ready" less than 20 minutes later. At the time, she was 24, and she and her boyfriend went on to live together, unmarried, for six more years. Around age 30, after countless friends had tied the knot, she began to think marriage wasn't such a bad idea. But her boyfriend never forgave her for originally saying "no." Did she make the right decision? The question still seems to plague her.
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Bennett more than eloquently conveys her feelings on the matter in a way that us single gals can relate to. She asks the "what ifs" and points out the mentality of older generations when she quotes the mother of a fellow Newsweek writer: "I'll tell you why you need marriage. Because it makes it harder for the other person to leave." How tragic is that? Considering the divorce rate, it's safe to say that people leave when they feel the inclination to do so; contracts play no part in emotional needs outside of a relationship.
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I respect Bennett, not just as a writer, but as a woman who speaks from her heart. However, if she's sitting around thinking she missed the boat, then I'd really like to invite her out for drinks so we can remedy this thinking. Going through life thinking you've "missed the boat" is no way to live. Besides, if you know how to swim on your own, you don't even need a boat. A boat is just something that keeps you above water, and sometimes, that's not the best way to experience life. Sometimes it takes jumping into the water to know that you're alive.
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