I’m not married, but it doesn’t take a married person to see the cultural divide between men and women who are married and those who are still single.
Over the last three years, I’ve watched eight of my ten closest friends tie the knot. All were 25 and under, and my relationships with each of them have changed dramatically in the months and years following their wedding days. And that’s okay. It’s normal and needs to be discussed.
In the beginning, I reeled and struggled to catch my balance as routines, plans and desires changed, but in time, life evened out. Adaptation to this new relationship dynamic was required for both sides. And the warranted decision to prioritize a spouse over a friend is a huge contributing factor to the chasm that has opened up between those who are married and those who aren’t.
The “Getting married at 22 sounds a lot like leaving the party at 9 p.m.” meme was funny at first, but the heart behind it is far from kind. The message is, “Marriage is a decision that will make you boring, tired and less fun to be around.”
Again, I’m not married, but even I can tell you this isn’t the case. Being married young doesn’t make you boring any more than being single makes you reckless. The stigma attached to both lifestyles are ones that exist on a spectrum, and both sides have been represented by their extremes.
If you find the love of your life and want to commit to them in your early twenties, it is no one’s place to label you as “less than.”
Yes, there are boring married people. Yes, there are reckless single people. I know couples who only leave their house for grocery runs and singles who average a bedtime of 4:30 a.m. (on a good night).
But neither are the standard.
If you find the love of your life and want to commit to them in your early twenties, it is no one’s place to label you as “less than.” Likewise, maintaining an independent relationship status doesn’t translate to a life of loneliness. Life is a gift, and it is made vibrant with relationship. You get to choose which kind, in what way, and when. Often times, all that’s required to diffuse tension is the act of communicating.
Friendships with friends who are married will change and may become a bit awkward in the early stages, but the same person who drew you in with their compassion, wit and perfectly timed anecdotes is still there, ring or no ring. So go to the party and leave at 9pm, if you want to. Leave the party at sunrise, in a car full of your closest friends. Get to the party, realize you didn’t actually want to come and go out for some Chinese food instead.
If you are living a life of joy, don’t let the rules and jokes society imposes make you feel ashamed.
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