I had a dream about being chased by bridal gowns and woke up coughing from acid reflex. It is safe to say that I don’t have warm and fuzzy feeling about weddings and that is because growing up in the South. Where traditions are law and marriage is required by eighteen.
Pictures of men on there knees and women with a new rock on that special finger have been filling my social media. It’s nice, people are happy and celebrating family. But, what’s different about these pictures and what makes them southern is the fact that most of them are barely twenty. Don’t get this confused with a shot gun wedding. No one is nocked up, and there is no dad on the side of the engagement photos holding a gun (well not for that reason anyway). What happened was a very simple equation.
In college + graduating soon + I am 18 or older + I have been dating you for almost a year + this is what my Mama did + I promised God, country, and parents that I would not touch you in any way before we were married = Do you want to get marred?
It’s a long equation and I am not saying all man and women follow it. For example, one of my best friends is getting married this summer. But, there is one thing in her and her fiancé’s equation that makes it so that I don’t have to worry about them getting married at twenty-two. See, they love each other and they know that because they have been dating for years and have gone through real life experiences. I am also not saying that this equation is wrong. There have been couples where I have known it to work, but it is still a very questionable equation.
It is because of this equation/tradition that once I was eighteen I was asked very seriously if there was a man in my life. When I would tell them no they would look very disappointed. Which was wired, because I was happy, and if I was happy shouldn’t they be? Then, there was that time when I first told my Grandmother about my boyfriend. We had been dating for less then a year and she asked me if we were engaged.
“No Baba, I will not be getting married this young and maybe not even to this man. I know you would be very happy if you were still here to see great grand children, but I am not as worried about my biological clock as you are.” Those are some of the thoughts I had while sitting on the couch with her. That and “Where is my mom? Maybe she can stop the scary words coming out of Grandma’s mouth.” But, I just sat there like a lady, telling her no that was not going to happen any time soon.
It has now been two years since I got that question from my Grandmother, and I am still dating the same man. That added with that fact that my best friends and others my age are getting married I felt the need to inform my family that I did not see a wedding any time in my future and most importantly that this did not mean that I did not love my boyfriend any less. I would also like to point out the fact that this conversation would not have been needed if I was a male.
Growing up in a place where your value in life is based on marriage and who you can bring to the family can be stressful. Now, my mom didn’t raise me to think that way but I grew up with a lot of girls who couldn’t wait to put on that white dress that I see in my nightmares. Traditions can be delicate. Not following them can require more explanation to your loved ones and possibly letting them down on hopes they have had since you were a kid. But, you have to do what makes you happy. Marriage is no small thing and its best to do it with your own equation and not one else.