Face It: No One Will Treat You Like An Adult Until You're Married

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engagement, married
In my case, it was unanimous: I was far more interesting and respectable once I got engaged.

I never had any hesitation that Andy was the one for me or that we would spend the rest of our lives together. After six years in a monogamous relationship — including two cross-country moves, economic upheaval and layoffs, career changes, and a six-month stint living with his parents (no easy feat) — it felt like we’d already made our relationship official.

But, like most women who are single well into their 20s, I felt pressured by girlfriends who insisted, "Everyone wants to get married" and, "You’re just saying you don’t care because you haven’t been proposed to yet." As most of my friends plotted their way to the altar, Andy and I enjoyed years of blissful cohabitation without ever worrying about if and when we’d tie the knot.

Over the years, we attended weddings by the dozen. Eventually he and I were one of the last unmarried pairs standing. Still, I wasn’t compelled to demand a ring. We were content. Certainly, people in our lives thought there had to be something wrong with our relationship, but we didn’t care what anyone thought.

Even during my years as an editor at a major wedding magazine, my bridal instincts failed to kick in. Sure, I felt the twinge of “something missing” every time a new coworker announced her engagement and was met with loads of fanfare, but that didn’t change how I felt deep inside: Andy and I didn’t need a piece of paper to affirm our commitment.

I wasn’t until my 30th birthday approached that I began to feel the first real impulse to get hitched. My career was thriving, but still, I sensed a barrier. It soon became apparent that my unmarried status was preventing me from being taken seriously as an adult and a professional. I was trapped in relationship purgatory.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s not like I was blatantly ostracized. I wasn’t sent to the kiddie table or anything. But my colleagues weren’t that much more subtle. Answers to, "When's he going to pop the question?" or the classic, "Why aren't you married yet?” were demanded of me, insinuating that something must be wrong with me if my boyfriend hadn't proposed after all this time. If I dared to express my ambivalence about weddings and marriage, I was often met with disbelief. And not just from colleagues, but from friends too.

Then it happened: Andy and I decided to get engaged. And what was a personal decision between two people became a signal that they were right all along: Every woman does want to be a bride. Some people were self-righteous: "See, I told you that you wanted to get married," they would say, as if they had possessed insight into my deepest desires. Others simply felt relieved. I fit in. I was normal.

Of course, my stock quickly rose as soon as I exchanged my Scarlet S for a sapphire engagement ring. Just like that, the same people who once made me feel pathetic for being ring-less suddenly admired me. It was like the door to an exclusive club had opened up to me. And membership had its privileges.  Keep reading ...

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