I had busted my ass to get where I was. What if getting married meant giving it all up?
I had been dreaming about my fiancé proposing to me for well over a year. I fell for him without reservations, without fear. I had been through hell when I met him — a pregnancy tainted by a husband who was cheating, becoming a single mom when my daughter was 2 months old, losing two stepchildren that I loved as if they were my own, and building my career up from a year of stagnation.
I had become the woman I always wanted to be. I relied on myself, I was strong, and I was no longer intimidated by those who pushed back at me.
But that didn't mean I couldn't fall in love. And god, how I fell My fiancé is my soulmate and meeting him was like a balm to my soul. I had already built myself up out of the ruins — he didn't save me. But he brought such a light into my life. He made everything better and brighter and more lovely.
And still, in those early months of our relationship, when I knew I wanted to marry him, the thought of marriage was completely terrifying.
What if I slipped into old habits? What if I lost all my friends again because I wouldn't stand up to a husband? What if I felt belittled again, like a chain to my husband? What if I relied on him for everything, again, and what if I felt like my self-worth came from his level of happiness?
I had busted my ass to get where I was. What if getting married as a strong woman meant I had to give it all up?
Of course, it doesn't. Marriage isn't a death sentence. Just like motherhood may change you, it doesn't have to steal your identity. My first marriage had gone the wrong way; I had let it. It was up to me if I let it happen again.
But as a strong woman, it can still be terrifying to think about marriage.
It's a fear that you're going to lose everything you worked for. Are you still considered a strong woman if you have a spouse to kill the spiders, to help pay the bills, to rock the baby to sleep?
It's a fear that your identity as a strong woman is gone the minute you say "I do."
It's a fear that you're giving up on yourself by getting married, that you're telling yourself you can't do it, that you need help.
It's a fear of feeling weak, of feeling like you belong to someone instead of to yourself.
It's a fear of falling into old habits, of giving everything up for your spouse, and letting them be a dementor in your life, sucking out your very existence.
Those fears overwhelmed me for a while. But as I plan my wedding now — knowing that as a strong woman, I'm simply sharing my life with an incredible man — I feel relief.
It's scary to think about marriage as a strong woman, but it's also thrilling to think about it — you don't need your spouse, you want them. And that's better than any pep talk I could ever give myself.