Ring Around the Rosy, Pocket Full of Bologna

I would be blatantly lying if I said I didn’t want to get married.

Like many women (and men, for that fact), I dream of the day when I get to express my love for Mr. Right in front of everyone who is near and dear to me. I think of my first apartment with my hubby and how together, we’ll dress it up into something worth living in, even if we don’t have a ton of money. And of course, like little girls who long for princes, I cut out a wedding dress picture out of an old Time magazine that I loved…and still have that clipping today.

I really don’t think it is wrong to want to be married or to find your partner or to desire that once-in-a-lifetime love. But what I find scary and a little bit intimidating…is how quickly that “time” in my life is coming up. Sure, I’m single (and learning to love it) – but more likely than not, I’ll probably be married before I’m 30.

In those times when I’m down on myself or feeling ugly or when its super cold and I really want to snuggle up to someone, I wonder “Why are all my friends in serious relationships, engaged, or married?” And then being obsessive and addicted to the internet, I stalk Facebook and scan through wedding picture after engagement picture after kissy-face picture, and become even more depressed.

But recently (even with progress, we have our off days), as I was figuring out how I was going to make it through and to the six weddings I’m invited to next year without feeling like a complete NYC cat lady, questions came bubbling up in my head like the champagne I anticipated drowning myself in:

Are you really ready to get married? Is that really what you want right now? And why is it that you think a marriage will make you feel better about yourself and happy?

Yes, I’m admittedly jealous of those who have found their partners – but I really do have such a privilege to be single in the city I adore, without having to worry about planning a wedding or asking someone else what they think before I make a decision. As I’ve said before, sometimes a date with freedom is better than any date a man could take me on.

So many people and especially my single girlfriends (like me) seem to believe that once you find that incredible person we all long for, that everything else just makes sense. Everything falls into place. Bad thoughts go away, worries subside, and blissful happiness follows wherever you go. This person, in their infinite wonderfulness completes your life.

Well, I’d like to think that I complete myself.

Sure, I want someone to make love to, share similar goals and interests with, and travel with, and I’m sure I’ll have it – but emotionally, shouldn’t I be enough? Does a ring around my finger, or my rosy, and thinking that “I do” solves all problems, give me a pocket full of bologna?

The whole idea of marriage and what it means and who is worthy of it or not has caused so much controversy. Yes, it’s a sacred and precious thing that too many people enter in lightly, but it’s not the end-all-be-all to our lives. There are so many things in this life that are important – our health, our happiness, our careers, our friendships, our adventures, our children, our relationship with ourselves, and while those things may involve a partner, the partner doesn’t make those things worth having or developing.

What does a ring have to do with it all really? Why is it so important? Why are some of my friends so obsessed with getting the ring and getting married, that it’s all they talk about? And why are we so worried about until-death-do-we-part so early in life?

Why do we automatically look on a man’s hand to see if he’s married when we find him attractive? Or when we see a pretty, tad bit older, womanwithout a ring, we wonder why? Is the ring around the finger really a symbol of completion? Or is it just the representation that you’ve found love, but the rest of you is still intact and prospering?

So, really all this worrying and searching and wondering if my “prince” will come along is wasteful.

Maybe everyone has already known this, but it’s something I’m finally realizing. My expectations for marriage, for this lustful union, have been way too unrealistic. Marriage isn’t a pain killer, but a nice upper and stabilizer for when the going gets tough or the good gets better. My wedding won’t start my happily after, but rather, just the first day in a new segment of my life. If I change my last name (which may be difficult for me to do because I love it so much), it doesn’t change who I am, where I’ve come from, or what I learned. Getting married doesn’t make me lose my identity of being an obsessive, worrying freak of nature who happens to be loving, fun, and kind, too – it just adds someone who gets to spend the rest of his life putting up with me (and vice versa).

One day I’ll put on the white dress and I’ll walk towards the man I want to share my life with, and I’m sure it’ll be nothing like I’ve dreamt or expected it to be. It’ll be most likely be even more than any imagination could conjure. But until I meet someone who comes close to fulfilling that part of my life – I’m not going to focus on it. I’m not going to worry or fear or wonder or place pressure. I’ll be happy for my friends and gladly celebrate their romance, without feeling the need to drink excessively (although, I probably will since it’s free!).

Because no matter how old I am, where I am in my life, or who is the person I marry – at the end of the day, I’m still me. I’m still full of flaws and beauty, hope and disappointments, inspiration and sadness. Just as love addiction isn’t going to be the largest part of me, marriage won’t be either. It just serves as an addition to my story and is no where near the final chapter.

I don’t want to get caught up in the ring-around-the-rosy, never ending cycle of wondering if he’s out there or if marriage is meant for me or if I need to be tamed. I don’t want to be part of the spinning web of doubt and envy, before someone tells me to drop all hands and settle down. I don’t want to dance in circles; I want to dance on tables.

I don’t want to be defined by marriage by a ring or by a bouquet of posies; I want to be defined by myself.

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