I’m a junior at a college in North Carolina, and I’ve been with my boyfriend for almost 2 years now. Everything’s really great, and I totally see him as someone that I might want to spend the rest of my life with…meanwhile, I know four people, one a sophomore, two from my year, and one a year ahead of me, who’ve gotten engaged! Isn’t it a bit early? When do you know it’s time to take that step? Shouldn’t you wait until you graduate? Everyone keeps asking me and him if we’re next, and I love him, but I don’t know if I want to get married!!! What do I say if he asks?
NOT the bride
Dear NOT the bride,
Pump the brakes. Breathe it in and let it out. And if you see a Tardis, not a bad idea to knock on the door and ask for a ride (worked for Amy Pond for a bit). There’s nothing you can do about the nosy parkers that begin asking you and your boy the big question: When? What you can do is just check in with him and see what he’s thinking. There are lots of things you don’t do because everyone else is doing it: mullets, food cleanses, and getting engaged.
Is there a point where you’re too young to get married? Sure. Generally, I’d say you want to live with a guy in your own place for at least a year, a trial as it were. I’d suggest you both be employed. I’d suggest you get married, because you WANT to and not because it’s what everyone else thinks you SHOULD do. That S word must never enter into your decision.
In general, I think it an unwise decision to get married while you’re in undergrad. Financially it’s not extremely feasible, your living situations may not allow you to experience the true experience of living together in your own space, and there might still be areas of the social life you’d like to explore that a marriage might inconvenience. That said, is it a hard rule? No. Few things are.
The trick, I think, with marriage is that it can’t be a tool to gain stability, the stability has to already be there in your lives together. It’s not an institution to enter as an attempt to find balance, it’s a ceremony to celebrate the balance you’ve found with your partner…and add a bit of financial benefits, tax breaks, and a great excuse to have a party!
My advice is to tell your boy that you’re not ready, and its got nothing to do with him, necessarily. Its got everything to do with where you feel you are in your life. College is a transitional time. It’s an experimental and explorative time where you’re making a lot of discoveries about who you are and who you want to be. Plus, you don’t always know where you’re going to right after college. When you’re settled, then you have the security to settle down. You can be settled at 22, you might not be settled until you’re 32, or you may decide you never want to settle. Summers seem to be a prime time for engagements, the typical year-long planning promise a June-August wedding, and that’s why it seems to happen a lot this time of year.
As for why people you know are making the decision to take the leap? That’s individual. It has nothing to do with you, and its not a hint that life’s giving you to get hitched. It just means you have friends who are in love and know (think) they want to spend the rest of their lives with their partners.
Age is inconsequential to getting engaged and getting married. That’s a cultural stigma you don’t have to submit to. There’s no rule that says get married between 18-25. Quite frankly, you probably want to wait until you get in the 26-30 range, by then you’ve generally chosen your first career to pursue, have some stability with income, and have evolved emotionally as your own person post-college. This is an “ideal” situation I’m describing. I’m not calling it foolproof, guaranteed, or even 100% realistic, but it can act as a reference point if you need it.
And if he asks, you take a deep breath and say, “let’s talk this through.” Romantic? No. The right response? Yes.
Fools rush in,
[Got a Dude itch you just can’t scratch? Sick of trying to come up with a not-totally-crazy-girl way to bring it up to your guy friends and get their take on things? Totally over over-analyzing the cryptic messages he leave on your Facebook Wall? We got your back, girlfriend. Send your question over to askthedude [at] collegecandy [dot] com. The Dude won’t sugarcoat it, beat around the bush, or any other weird cliche that means lie to you. Like a nice, juicy hot dog, he’ll be 100% real beef, 100% of the time. So bring. it. on.]