The M Word

By Emily Topper |

Emily Topper HeadshotLet me start off by saying that this is not an anti-marriage article. I am all for marriage. I think the idea of two people spending the rest of their lives with one other is not only romantic, but inspirational. But it’s important to make sure that right person is in your life before you make such a big decision.

It’s usually true that most people think of marriage in terms of wanting to be with one person for the rest of their life. But from the perspective of a twenty-something, that’s pure idealism. We’re taught at a young age that we’re expected to follow a plan – get an education, meet someone, get married. Get a picket fence, a golden retriever, the whole shebang. Because if you love someone, you should marry them.

But maybe you shouldn’t. At least, not yet.

Let’s think about this problem for a minute. All college students are facing this same issue when it comes to dating and relationships, myself included. I graduated high school three years ago at the age of 17. Next year I’ll graduate from college at the age of 21. When I think about the person I am now compared to the person that I was when I was 17, I am overwhelmed by the number of differences. My career goals have changed, my morals have changed and my relationships have changed. But I’m nowhere near done figuring out who I am yet. I expect that this idea will change again when I graduate from college, again when I move to a new city and again when I start my first ‘real world’ job. Getting tied down to someone now or in the next few years seems very premature when you look at my situation, even foolish.

My generation is lucky. As college students, we are faced with a multitude of advantages. We have the luxury of being selfish, we are adapt at using new forms of technology and we are continuing to break away from the expected social norms of the past—more than ever, our dreams can become our reality. We have the opportunity to go anywhere and do anything. The idea that we are supposed to settle down and do something mundane day in and day out for the rest of our lives is not only outlandish, but disappointing.

Some may argue that marrying young is more romantic. You get married. You and your significant other get an apartment, a dog, a china set. You pay your bills and you work a nine to five and you think about the possibility of children. You settle down into a routine, and you experience the rest of your life with that person. And for some people, that works. But that scares me. I’m not ready for it now and I don’t know if I’ll be ready for it in the near future—if I ever will be at all. Though I remain open-minded, neither my attitude nor my bank account is ready for marriage right now.

I believe that it’s important to remember that marriage is not synonymous with maturity. A ring on your finger right after you graduate and a lease co-signed with your partner doesn’t mean that you have life anymore figured out than the rest of us. Marriage isn’t just about love—it requires time and effort from both people in order to work.

Holly Neuhaus, a junior at Flagler College, has similar feelings. “Marriage isn’t just about love, marriage is about compromise.”

According to an article on ABC news, Americans are starting to wait longer before they marry. The article explains that college women especially are having a large impact on the current marrying age. College women such as myself are doubling the numbers in enrollment compared to thirty years ago. And now it’s not just to get that MRS degree.

“I believe that you should wait to find the right person to marry,” said Christina Heflin, a junior at Flagler. “That way, you learn whether you can live with them and whether you truly are compatible. I truly believe that you can’t be happy with someone else unless you’re happy with yourself. ”

And that says it all. This is our time to pursue what we want: Our careers, travels, ambitions, friendships, education, adventures. If you find the right person along the way, more power to you. But for now, there’s no wedding bells on my horizon. And that’s okay, too.

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