Sunday, March 8, 2009

Then comes marriage...

I am beginning to wonder how my friends became so cliched.

It certainly couldn't be by simple virtue of the diamond rings displayed on their ring fingers. It is not as though they are the first of my friends to get married, many of whom who have managed the transition from girlfriend to wife with relative ease. 

This week, six of us sat at my kitchen table, empty plates before us from our weekly meet-up. As I began collecting the plates, the regular dose of matrimonial talk began. You see, three of the six are getting married, one this spring, one this summer, one next summer. While I don't mind talk of the larger themes, such as bachelorette plans, dresses, caterers, or of their general excitement about an admittedly huge day in their lives, lately it has progressed to the downright banal. This time, they began chattering about their three's trip to the mall to pick out wedding bands, which began with an anecdote of how the jewelry store worker made a joking remark about the big rings on each of their fingers, and ended with a detailed dissection of which shape of wedding band best complemented their fingers. 

I counted floorboards.

I also wondered when they had all gotten so oblivious. Not just oblivious to the fact that I was counting floorboards, but also to the fact that J is single and not necessarily thrilled about it, or that M has been with her boyfriend for longer than some of them have been with their fiances, and is still barely able to get him to utter the word "commitment". Oblivious to the fact that their constant talk might not just bore some people, but may actually be a tinge hurtful.

While they may be unaware of how their words may sting, they also are also painfully incognizant of the fact that not everyone is necessarily wanting their lives right now. As it has now become obvious that M and her boyfriend are not getting engaged anytime soon, attention has turned to me as the next on the list. My non-committal or general responses to "do you think he's going to propose soon?" or "do you know what kind of ring you want?" fall over deaf ears. It seems that "I'm sure it will happen, but not anytime soon" is not satisfying enough, so they keep on pressing. 

That same night, as I excitedly tell them that the Duke and I are finally booking our sunshine holiday, S coos "Oh, I bet he has something in store for you there", and winks condescendingly. And even though I know it is only because she wants for me what she thinks I want for myself, I can't help but get annoyed. Why isn't it good enough that we are having our first big holiday together? Why does it need to be that I am providing him with a cliched scenario to ask for my hand in marriage? Why does everyone act like I am just suppressing my frantic need for a wedding, rather than accepting that him and I are just happy in the moments we're in now? 

I guess it is just starting to depress me that these women I know are genuinely ambitious, driven, feisty, independent present themselves like something out of a bad sitcom, when all we talk about are calories and relationships. As I walked home today, I realized that I knew reams more about their theme colours, the necklines of their bridesmaid's dresses and their fiances' idiosyncracies than they did about my dissertation or my job. And it made me feel a little lonely.


nicoleantoinette said...

I'm not at the point where this is happening, but I feel like I'll be there soon enough. Although, to be honest, I don't have any close friends that live within a 50 mile radius, so I doubt I'll feel the impact all that much.

ps- I'm damn excited for you and your holiday!

Katie said...

I hate that crap. I'm even at the point where marriage is imminent, and I hate how "the ring" is like this thing that all the girls who have one lord over you. All they want to know is, "When are you getting one?" and "What do you want it to look like?" and "Where are you going to get married?" I think they mostly just ask to rub it in that they have all that stuff already and that you're losing the rush to the altar...which is just a mask for the fact that they don't have much else going on in their lives.

At this point, I just avoid people like that. It's too exasperating to put up with.

verybadcat said...

I've been married for nearly nine years. So when a friend gets engaged, I'm happy for her, but it is still irritating when she gets tunnel vision. I can see the other side for her; after the wedding when everything is much more real and less fairy tale. I can't remember if I was capable of talking about more than rings and dresses and invitations and place cards or no place cards. I do remember distinctly not asking people when they thought they would get engaged.

This is one of those really shitty situations where you have every right to be frustrated and disappointed, but raising the issue isn't going to get you anywhere. Not until after the wedding, when they go from being brides-to-be (princesses in training) to plain ol' women and wives again...

Z said...

Ugh. I hear ya with this. And while I am sure I talked about my wedding a lot while I was planning it, I don't think I EVER descended to discussing wedding band matching in a group like that. I know they are just happy, and want you all to be happy, too - but their idea of happiness is not necessarily yours (or, in actuality, either) and they need to realize this. Good luck with getting them to that point, though!!!

Jacqueline said...

I'd be disappointed in their lack of consideration too. It saddens me to see people put so much thought and effort into their actual wedding that they forget about the importance of marriage and all the other aspects of their lives.

Enjoy your vacation!

Erica said...

I'm with you. My friends are worse than my family! What also kills me is how they talk about these awful cookie-cutter receptions that their dads will surely pay for. The joke is going to be on them when I eventually do get engaged, and I still won't have much to talk about, since we will be paying for a wedding ourselves and will most likely not have any debates over the most appropriate ice sculpture to declare our love.

Kylie said...

While I am married and the majority of my friends are married also. I HATE that every question sent my way is one of the following:
Are you pregnant yet?
Are you trying to get pregnant yet?
Have you stopped taking the pill yet?
When do we get some babies?
And so on, and on and on! GIVE IT UP PEOPLE! Not everyone has to be 'married with kids' to be HAPPY!!! And not all married people WANT kids!! Hubby and I actually need some new friends that don't have kids yet. When our friends get together everyone brings their kids! WTF?! Buzz kill!!

Love your blog!!

Have a great week!!

smidge said...

Just tell them that you are focusing on the relationship than the superficial stuff - the ring, wedding day, the dress. The relationship is much more important :)

Surfergrrl said...

I have no idea what turns girls into this kind of she-beast. I think girls are more "competitive" than we think, so they try to elevate their status in life by making other girls feel like shit. Thank god that stuff starts to turn around in your 30's, and people start to see the benefit in the way you run your own life, regardless of what decisions you have made.

The Clandestine Samurai said...

Welp, I don't like marriage, or children. So generally, when I hear that someone is getting married or pregnant, I feel an intense dread and pity for them. So, being present at that conversation would've also bored me to tears, but it certainly wouldn't have taken away from pride in my own situation.

But I would've spoken up. See, I believe that true friends would respect your situation and what makes you happy. Not respect what makes them happy and them trying to push that down your throat. A conscious and considerate person would acknowledge this difference.

If it makes any difference, although we don't know each other, I'm happy for your booking of the sunshine holiday with your partner. I hope it is one of the happiest experiences you encounter.

So, how many floorboards did you register?

Crushed said...

I think- from what I pick up on blogs- that it's still more of a cultural expectation over there than it is here.

My best mate and his partner have a child now, obv she is also a close friend. No one at any point has brought up the m word, aside from my Mum who keeps asking me if they are going to get married any time. I just roll my eyes in response to her and say 'It's not something in the pipeline, why should it be?'

It does seem to be seen as something that couples automatically do in North America, whereas over here, it's more a kind of add on. Moving in together and even having a family together happen just as much without as with the presence of rings and a certificate. So people don't expect people to get married.

They alternative is expecting people to move in together, I guess.

Enjoy your hols and live for the day.

Shieldmaiden96 said...

The really suicidally boring talk doesn't start until they start having kids. I often wonder what would happen if I interrupted someone mid-sentence and said, "You know what? I really don't care."

MissAnthropy said...

I know how you feel. Four girls in my office are getting married, and two others are pregnant, so that's all I get to hear about. I've been ask "When are you and [partner] getting married?" more than I care to think of... and I get the blank stare and awkward "Uhh.. I'm sorry" when I say "we're not." People just don't understand and its incredibly frustrating. I want to be happy for them, but mostly I'm just irritated.
Oh, and Shieldmaiden96, take it from someone who HAS made that comment... they won't ever speak to you again. About anything.

courtneyryan369 said...

Icky. I'm stuck between there and the "baby phase".

Neither one of which I have or want right now.

At least you can also say how many floorboards there are.

the frog princess said...

I was back in hometown this weekend and for the first time in AGES all of the girlfriends were together... and not only am I the LONE single, but I am one of 2 who are childless.

It gets a little lonely when the conversation turns to diapers, or breast pumps, or jokes about not wanting to have sex with their husbands (Hello? Cliche hotline? I'd like to report an abuse...).

It didn't help that the Mary Kay lady kept talking about everyone's husband--even though the Bride of this Bridal Pampering Party is marrying another girl.

In other words... I feel you. Hopefully once the weddings are over and done you'll get a respite of normalcy before they all start having kids :)

Snarky A. said...

I'm with smidge on this on; it is all about the relationship, not about the superficial stuff.

sonrie said...

Wonderful post. This is a common theme among SOME of my friends - especially the notion that for the day to be perfect, large amounts of money must be spent and hours must spent agonizing over every detail.

Of the 10 weddings I have attended in my life - I am 25 - 2 have been small intimate gatherings that I came away from awed and impressed. The other 8 were sponsored by parents (of both sides) who very generously paid for most, if not all of the event. (Is this the norm?)

That said, I was engaged last weekend, and with the exception of some small things, my fiancee and I plan to pay for things ourselves and have a very small budget, perhaps around $2,000. This is partly due to the economy and mostly due to our wishes. We prefer a smaller amount of well-liked and loved people to be there and celebrate than have a typical know what I mean.

I understand your frustration with your friends, because I was in your place before I met my man. Now that we are engaged, I am feeling the 'hard' questions from a different angle, and am bracing myself from disappointment when certain others find out what I am NOT having.

And the question I ask is this: Where or when did getting married go from a small intimate gathering to a huge overblown event? And why do girls (and their mothers and future m.i.l.'s) feel so entitled? I really don't get it.

Sorry for such a long post; I hope you will be able to say some tactful things that might make your friends reconsider their words; you might have to offend them momentarily in order to get a point across.


Katelin said...

i am definitely getting closer to this point where more of my friends are getting married. but luckily they're not all in the same friend circles so i can talk about when i want to with them and not have it take over every conversation we have. that would drive me insane.

sequined said...

I think it's reasonable to be upset about all this, but in their very mild defense, wedding planning can feel very all-encompassing. (Not that I'm doing it, or anywhere close to even dating anyone, ha.) You and the other non-engaged girls should steer the topic toward things everyone can relate to more happily. Maybe set a time limit on wedding talk?

J'Ollie Primitives said...

I'd be yanking out the kitchen timer and bellowing, "you have 15 minutes to discuss each and every minute detail of your wedding, and then we are going to play Dirty Word Scrabble!"
'cuz I'm polite and all but enough is ENOUGH. (please substitute pregnancy/labor/divorce plans as the cliches march on)ARRRRRR.
oh p.s. have a great vacation.

Larissa said...

It's hard when your friends are too self-absorbed in their own lives to show any interest in yours. At least you have other people around you (including many of your blog readers) who aren't stuck in Wedding La La Land!

Sheila said...

Sometimes even the best of us can become self absorbed in our own little worlds. Although I was never like that when I planned my wedding, I did get that way when I became pregnant with my first born.

Perhaps after the honeymoons are over, your friends will remember that other people have lives too and that those lives are just as important.

Brett said...

Marriage is great but only if you do it because you want to and not because you think its the thing to do.

Tristan|the arw said...

I've been experiencing this thing, when I read a great post and I have all these thoughts in my head and no idea what to say exactly, though the desire to comment is there. It happened after reading this post, back when you actually published it. ;)

As someone who is in, what I think is, the relationship of my life, marriage is still not necessarily in the cards for me.

I've never been the girl who dreams about wedding dresses and rings. It's just not the way I'm wired, nor the way I was raised.

So I understand, so completely, what you mean, what you are experiencing. There is so much more to life, and to relationships, than the wedding day. I want to concentrate on all the other moments and memories, not the act that we're "supposed" to all do/have. Fortunately I have friends who feel the same, though I'm still watching many others get married, too. And I'm excited for them. Just don't expect me to fall in line with this tradition!

Well written post, my dear.

Mandy said...

I have a lot of friends/ old high school classmates getting married and having kids. I literally cringe when someone says "When is it going to be your turn?" I dont need it to be my turn. I don't even know if I want it to ever be my turn. Its incredibly frustrating.

Michael said...

There are few people more self involved than someone who is about to be married. I'm not someone who talks about himself to any vast degree-when I got married, I didn't even tell my boss.

On the one hand, I can't blame them for being happy and wanting to talk about it-and who ELSE is going to talk about it with them? But they should also have the minimum awareness to know that you don't brag about your baby to someone who just had a miscarriage, and you don't brag about your wedding to someone you know is single and not thrilled about it.

If I could speak to them, I would say, "Yes, this is changing your personality to suit the needs of others. It's not easy. It's called being a human being. You should try it sometime."

Yoda said...

Can you really blame them? They want you in their married club so that they can call themselves 'cool & hip' :-)

I've noticed this phenomena in more places and contexts than I would care to repeat.

I wonder if this is really a defense mechanism to prove to themselves that they didn't really make a mistake by getting married? You know, we always seek 'approval' from our closest friends ...

Mrs4444 said...

This is a beautiful post. I don't come here often, but when I do, I am always glad I did, Princess. If nothing else, for the ratcheted-up vocabulary :) (I'm serious; I love it! :) but truly, you are a wonderful writer.

brandyismagic said...

I've read this multiple times without commenting. Posts like this remind me why I like blogging- it's so nice (and such a relief) to find people who are experiencing things similar to me. You are definitely not alone with this.

Mugs said...

Great post. I think this is a rite of passage for 20 somethings to go through - dealing with friends and family who become one-track minded about their "stage" in life... be it weddings or babies. Like some others said, I'd try to steer the convo towards non-wedding topics when possible, or try a light-hearted "how bout we talk about something that doesn't involve a white dress and thousands of dollars for a couple minutes!"

Blaez said...

i hope i don't get like that... please slap me if i do!

Therapeutic Ramblings said...

"I counted floorboards."

I know the feeling. Most of my friends are hitched and having we have less and less to talk about.

A Margarita said...

Woo for vacations!

This is one of the reasons I hate women. Marriages and weddings become this all consuming thing that makes me even the most rationale woman batshit insane.