As our wedding, and the weddings of quite a few friends, get closer, I've been thinking a lot about what it means to me to be a wife, and how that doesn't always line up with what Christian society says a wife is.
I was blessed enough to be part of a Christian sorority in college, and I loved that I made amazing, lasting friendships with strong women who inspire me to be a better Christian and woman, but there were some things that I didn't agree with. Our university is in the Bible Belt, so many of the girls are very conservative, and planned to be engaged, if not married, by the time they graduated from college. I knew that's not what I wanted, and I've always said I wanted to be engaged for at least a year, but it's hard to stay true to yourself when people start expecting you to be the next one engaged. I remember sitting through engagement circles and being told afterwards by my friends that they were expecting it to be me. It sucked. I knew why we weren't engaged, and I knew why it wasn't coming soon, but I started feeling like maybe people thought he didn't want to marry me. That sucked too, because I knew I wanted to marry him. He's the only guy in college that I actually called home to tell them I was going on a first date with...I knew he was special from the beginning.
After we both graduated in May of 2010, I started getting impatient. I am naturally impatient, and waiting for anything makes me want to die. Case in point: I wake up early every Christmas morning, and want nothing more than to wake everyone else up as soon as I'm up. (Tom celebrated Christmas with us this year, and thankfully, he's okay with the early morning wake up call.) Tom finally told me I could look at rings, but to not expect it anytime soon. I looked at 1 store and fell in love with a vintage ring that I knew I'd never get. Awesome. That fall we looked at some more stores together, and I realized I'd be waiting a while since I didn't want him to go broke buying a ring, but all the rings I loved were expensive. I tried my best to wait. Then I realized I'd be moving back to Texas in December and didn't know where life was going after that. I needed an engagement. I needed to know there was going to be a future- a definite, planned-out, we're-a-family-now future. I got impatient again. We fought, I cried, Tom was frustrated. It was terrible. He had his reasons and plans and didn't want to share it with me. I needed something concrete, and I wasn't getting it. When he finally proposed, it was totally worth it, and I was thrilled, and the ring is amazing. I would've said yes even if there wasn't a ring though- I was so excited and relieved to know that he wanted to marry me too. (Yes, I overthink things. And yes, I'm slightly dramatic.)
Then I got accepted to Spain. And the wedding date is just under 2 years after we got engaged. That's where we are now, and the long engagement is bringing its own set of pressures and frustrations. There's something really frustrating watching so many people get engaged after us, and married before us. Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled for most of them, and happy for the rest, but it does make me feel like we're doing something wrong. (Realistically, I know we're doing the right thing for us, and the waiting is going to make it so much sweeter when we're finally together). I'm just jealous that everyone else gets their happy day sooner than I do.
I can deal with the waiting. We get to spend a week traveling in Europe together, which is amazing. We can be so happy to be together that the little details of wedding planning that we could get caught up in just don't matter. Who cares if I don't have a theme? We get to become our own family- totally better! But what I can't deal with is the pressure that is being put on us by people with our best interests at heart. I've been told so much here that people can't wait to see pictures of my babies in a year or 2. I just smile, because we're not sure when we're having kids, just that I'm getting a master's degree and we're getting a house first. Along with that, we don't want to rent a house. We're happy with an apartment until we know where we'll be going. As long as it's nicer than a college apartment, we're happy. But somehow that seems to be the minority opinion among the people in our circle. Everyone is renting or buying a house within their first year of being married, and some want to go straight into a house after the wedding. If you have the money for that, I think that's great. But I want something different. I want to be able to move to a new place if we want, or save money for a down payment on our first house. If we can only have 1 first house, I want it to be perfect. I want a place we could see ourselves in for years, not just a place that we're renting because we can.
I'm not discounting people who choose to do these things...that's their lives, and as long as they're happy- I'm happy for them. But when did Christianity tell us this is the only way to be a married couple? Why is it that couples who wait or do something that makes them happy but is against the norm are looked down on? Where does it say that you can't be a godly couple if you don't have your own home filled with babies? I personally need more. I need my identity outside of being a wife- I am thrilled to become Tom's wife, but he proposed knowing that we had separate interests and I have big dreams, and I refuse to give them up just to fit in with the norm.
I love where our lives are going, and I just wish people would consider that just because it's a different place or journey then their lives doesn't make it worse or better. It just makes it our life- full of grad school, apartments, traveling, and way too much happiness. I can't wait for it to start!