...here comes the "no thank you"
When a woman reaches a certain age, she can expect changes. Things aren't how they used to be and things aren't where they used to be. Lines may find their way onto a once youthful complexion as her glory days fade away.
Growing older isn't something to fear, considering the alternative, but although I don't find myself overly concerned with age just yet, one thing that drives me directly up a wall and down the other side is this nonsense: "How or why are you possibly not married?" or "Don't you want children?" or, "You know, you aren't getting any younger. It may be time to settle down."
Therein lies my problem. If settling down involves "settling," then you can keep it; it's just not for me.
Just as standards of beauty are unfair, so is this imaginary timeline telling women - and men, believe me, I'm sure they hear it, too - when they have to do what in life. In case you haven't noticed, times have changed. As people become more independent in their thoughts, they realize guidelines drawn up by people compelled to define what's normal in life aren't necessarily what everyone needs to follow. Still, that doesn't stop people from ogling someone over 30 like a circus freak at the discovery they haven't yet tied the knot or produced offspring.
Marriage and children work really well for some. There are those who want such a thing immediately after high school or college. That's fine. Like I always say, to each his own. Some are on their fifth marriage by the time they are 30 and some follow their dreams and attend clown college. Everyone is different; what works for one does not necessarily work for another.
Keeping with the theme of over-sharing in an attempt to make this column relatable, I'll share my top three resaons why I haven't gotten married:
1. Because "all the cool kids are doing it" has never done it for me.
Trust me, at a certain point, I had about 12 bridesmaid dresses floating around my closet and thoughts crossed my mind as to why everyone was getting married and I was not. They crossed my mind, but then I politely allowed them to leave the vicinity of my head.
Doing anything just because everyone else is does not equal the same happiness or outcome for all. Like my parents said when I was a kid, "Well if 'what's-their-name' jumped off the Cameron Bridge, would you, too?" No. I would not jump off the new or the old Cameron Bridge. Nor would I get married because "what's-their-name" did because the end result of either scenario seems a bit uncomfortable.
2. I've seen marriage.
Relationships are hard. They'll give you the highest highs and lowest lows you'll ever feel in life. I know a handful of people in my generation who have really loving, functioning marriages. Do they fight? Of course they do. But they find each other important enough to work on their issues in an effort to grow and make their relationship stronger. I admire those people. Love is a beautiful thing and they value the importance of it and make it work.
However, I've also seen another side of marriage.
I've been a bartender for almost 15 years now and I've seen my share of cringe-worthy behavior from both husbands and wives. It's honestly sad and disappointing.
Never in my life do I want to be the woman whose husband feels the need to go to the bar and complain about on a daily basis. Never in my life do I want to be the woman whose husband feels the need to lie to about his whereabouts to.
Trust is golden. While innocent stretching of the truth may not be so bad, elaborate story lines, twists and plots are unnecessary. If you don't trust each other enough to allow the other to have their own fun once in a while, trouble lies ahead. Heed the warning. Something is certainly amiss.
It's not just bar behavior, either. I've said before: "Facebook is the biggest barroom on the planet," and that is apparent if you look at the amount of messages, mostly unopened, in my inbox from so-called happily married men. Perhaps that's something a girl should find flattering. No, thank you.
Sure, there are unique situations where people may be faced with a crumbling marriage and may need someone to talk to. That's not even close to what I'm talking about.
I'm talking about the guys who are seemingly happily married. They have their profile pictures with their wife, they post how lucky they are, they generally allow the world to believe they are in a state of marital bliss. Mind you, I'm not trying to sell out men only, I'm pretty certain female infidelity may be far worse. I'm just speaking from my own personal experience. It's a shame, really. I feel pity for your spouses.
I'm sorry. Have I said too much? Am I making you nervous, fellas? If my addressing this finds you bitter and that means you won't message me anymore, perfect. That works out well for both of us.
And don't worry; I won't dime you out personally. It would somehow end up my fault, anyway, because females tend to go for each other's jugulars instead of addressing the actual problem. So, like usual, I'll side-step any drama that does not directly relate to me.
I will say this, though. The whole idea of a perfect Facebook marriage makes me sad for you. Facebook is not real life; because you appear happy there does not make it true, especially when you're sending pervy messages to random girls such as myself. But everyone has to face, on an individual basis, the things they did in life when they look back. That's something you'll have to live with, not me.
Some of you have really genuine partners out there and a genuine love and respect I admire, but some of you are not fooling anyone but yourselves.
3. I still believe in love.
Love can sting a bit at times, but, despite that, I still think it's the coolest. Life would be empty without it.
And although many may cite citizenship, financial stability or offspring as reasons, there is truly no other reason to get married than love.
George Jones himself said it: "Only love can make a golden wedding ring."
So, pardon my ignorance if I missed the class growing up that encouraged I use someone for my own personal gain or just because it's convenient or expected.
I've never dated someone for their money. I've never dated someone because they have a fancy car or expensive clothes. I don't like to be "fixed up" because someone's also single and a "really nice guy with a good job." None of that has ever mattered to me. Not once have I just sucked it up because, although there was no spark, I felt I bad for being single and decided I'd learn to tolerate someone I truly didn't want to be around.
That's just not me.
I've said it before, I'm not good at faking it.
I need someone who is fun, who, for the most part, makes my life better.
My dad jokes I should hang around Geisinger's parking lot looking to land a doctor because of the way I spend money, but I have zero interest in anyone taking care of me financially. I'll always earn my keep in an effort to keep the motivation I need to work hard for the things I want in life.
I'm nothing without goals and dreams. And as cliché as it may sound, my life's riches are measured in happiness, not hundred dollar bills. In any relationship I've ever been in, my biggest priority and only motive was a shared happiness. I have never used anyone as anything but a counterpart to my own laughter and good times - I like a partner in crime, so to speak.
In the end, my goals are simple: Be happy, contribute to others' happiness and laugh as much as humanly possible.
In keeping with that theme, if marriage and children fall into place, so be it. But I won't do it for the wrong reasons and I won't force it because it's expected.
In the meantime, I'll continue to make changes in order to grow and reach personal goals in an attempt for my own personal fulfillment. If someone joins me in that, all the better, but I won't fall apart if I go it alone.
So as to your concern for the lack of a ring on my finger, don't worry your pretty little head about it; just worry about yourself. If I can tune out my own biological clock and shush my wild desires for an all "Dirty Dancing" themed wedding, it should be all that easier for you to do, too.
I'm doing OK. I promise.
It's no secret I'm not as young as I once was, but, lately, I almost feel as good as I've ever been, and with or without marriage, I only plan on getting better.
(Jenna Wasakoski is an assistant editor at The News-Item)