So, Is This Marriage Thing Contagious?

6 Apr

“Just stop…I don’t even want to talk about it.”

We’re sitting at happy hour, all of us young, educated…and unmarried. The topic that has upset my friend is the running list of college friends who have either married, reproduced or both. I merely took a sip of my drink and laughed. Even though I’ve been engaged before, it was more of a formality than a true belief in “happily ever after” and the relationship didn’t pan out. I’m not in a rush, though I know myself well enough to know that marriage is a requirement of any future relationship.

It’s the 27th birthday of one of my sorority sisters, and clearly she’s having a hard time of it. Actually, not really. She, like me, has a sarcastic wit that belies a tender underbelly, and it’s not often she truly shows her emotional undercarriage. She does make a good point though. The wedding and ultrasound posts being shared in our group of friends and associates has reached the critical mass point, and the claustrophobic, though mostly imagined, feeling of judgment is upon us. Does one seek out a beau strictly to fit the norm for what should be happening at this point in life? On what date do you bring up expectations? And what if they don’t have the same long-term goals, what then?

For me and mine, we had the expectations conversation fairly up front. Pragmatism and maturity made it a necessity to get that out in the open. Two years in, and apparently I’m following all of the latest trends: cohabitation before marriage and being highly educated and yet unmarried. (For a counterpoint to the “highly educated and yet unmarried” piece, the latest news says that college-educated women have a better chance at marriage than those who only finished high school.) (Also, good gosh, do NOT search “educated black women and marriage” if you want to believe in your fairy tale ending, that was a depressing result list.) While I understand folks who choose to keep separate households until after the vows were exchanged, I believe in knowing what I’m getting into before signing a contract that is supposedly irrevocable – that includes snoring, cleanliness, fiscal responsibility and the like.

Much like my friend’s reflection on her life and that of her peers in light of her birthday, I have the same circumstances coming up. I was recently chatting online with a male friend who I have known since our halcyon days of undergraduate, when we used to act like our twenties would extend forever into the future in an awesome collection of boring classes, entry level jobs and kicking it for Homecoming every year. He didn’t keep up his end of the bargain though, and our conversation was not about how much we were looking forward to happy hour together, but about how happy he is that his two kids sleep late regularly and that his wife doesn’t know he does a 15-minute rush cleanup before she makes it home. Happy wife, happy life – he learned quickly! It’s the weirdest feeling to consider him as a father and husband, but it’s the reality of his life.

Thankfully, very few people I interact with regularly ask me when me and my boyfriend are getting hitched. They’re smart enough to know that the answer is a blank stare and a subject change. Just like it’s rude to ask a woman if she’s pregnant, it’s equally as rude to inquire about wedding plans. Until I get to that point, and don’t expect that much will change when I do, I plan on avoiding the drinking water sources of the newly pregnant friends and wives of friends, and being happy that I don’t have to schedule sleeping past 7 a.m. on weekends. Sorry I’m not sorry parents!

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