Marriage: For Adults Only

We thought engagement meant we'd get married. Everyone else thought it meant a wedding. When's the "right" time to get married?

People are within their rights to want to know when I'm getting married - because I'm, you know, engaged. Most people regard our engagement as a signal that in a year or so, we'd have a wedding; it denoted a timeline, goals, and endpoints. For me and Slim, it meant that we'd decided we wanted to get married - some day. Since our engagement, over a year ago, several couples I know have successfully gotten engaged and married. We are starting to look like slackers, which is in fact totally accurate.

But by any standard, we're in no "position" to marry. It's generally understood that before you make it legal, you should have an adult life in place: financial stability, career, ideally a few dollars in the bank. Given that we have approximately none of these things, marriage hasn't seemed realistic. But lately, we've been having a lot of "screw it, let's go to City Hall" moments. The reason for this is twofold: we've realized we are never going to be adults, and we want to get married.

In an article in the latest Texas Monthly, Rena Behar recalls that
Mark Regnerus
made serious waves last year when he suggested that people should just go ahead and get married. What seemed like a retrograde return to mid-century form to much of the feminist blogosphere was, he says now, misinterpreted: he merely wanted to suggest we remove the stigma from those who do choose to marry young. While this is a sticky issue - and no one's objections were conjured out of thin air - there was something to be said for the argument that there is no "right time," and that a list of requirements has become one of the inarguables of "enlightened" modern life almost without our knowledge.

It's true: whereas even a generation ago a youthful, impecunious marriage could feel romantic and bohemian (as contrasted with the trousseau-ready child-brides of an earlier era) nowadays we tacitly consider it the purview of hicks and zealots. The literal child-brides of the FLDS do little to combat this notion; those married undergrads I knew in college were largely regarded as curiosities. Even those friends of mine who married pre-25 were cause for comment - and, it's true, most of them had parents who'd married younger than mine or came from communities where this wasn't such a big deal. At 28, I'd be an old maid in plenty of homes, but south of 30 is still considered young amongst my parents' friends - not least because it's assumed one will have completed grad school and established a career by the time the wedding rolls around. Plenty of people live together, of course, and it's assumed that they'll marry - but when the time is right.

There are many sound reasons for this, obviously. In a perfect world, I'd have my ducks in a row - not least because it means I could actually afford a wedding. But at the same time, I'm starting to bridle at the notion that you need to be a fully developed adult before making such a personal decision - because I have no problem growing up a little more with someone else. Even if it means there are some growing pains on the way.

The Young and the Restless [Texas Monthly]