Why do we still tell women that their lives begin when they get married?
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“Tomorrow my life begins.”
I can’t even tell you how many times I have heard this phrase uttered on the various wedding blogs, websites, and groups that I have been a part of ever since getting engaged earlier this year.
Although, as a society, we are getting married later and later, the notion that a woman’s life truly begins the day that she puts that ring on her finger remains. There are a lot of reasons for this that I don’t particularly want to get into at the moment (the patriarchy, obviously, being one of them) but let me say this: Tomorrow I am getting married. But despite tying the knot with the man that I unironically call “the love of my life” and being VERY excited about spending the rest of my days with him, I don’t think all that much is going to change. And I certainly do not think that my life will begin after we say “I do.”
Here’s why: I am currently 31 years old and just a few months shy of my 32nd year on this glorious planet. I am a pretty confident, independent woman who has failed a lot and succeeded a lot. But most of all, I learned a lot about myself throughout my lifetime. Although I have definitely learned plenty of things about myself since meeting my partner (and, sometimes, with his help and/or unwavering support), there was also a whole lot of growing and learning and being me that I did before we met.
Don’t get me wrong. I definitely am a very different person today than I was when I walked into the coffee shop where we had our first date, but I’m also not THAT different. I am still pretty loud. I still love to wear red lipstick. I still write for a living. And I am still attracted to women. (That’s right, being in a committed relationship with a man didn’t change my bisexuality.)
However, I am definitely calmer, practice more self-care, and can recognize when my anxiety is about to get the best of me — all things I learned thanks to Adam. Oh, and I eat a lot better, too.
So why is that I don’t think my life will begin on December 28, 2017, the day of our wedding?
Well, to be honest, it’s mainly because I have had a pretty good life up until this point. Despite some of my utter downs in the past (alcoholism, work failures, etc.), I am generally pretty satisfied with where I was when I met my soon-to-be husband and I am even more satisfied with where our life together has led since then. To say that my life begins on the day that I got married is to discount all of the hard work I have put into my life so far, including growing graduating from a great college, growing my career, developing great friendships, and taking care of my 11-year-old grumpy old man cat.
How can I just say all of that doesn’t count?
I can’t is the answer, honestly. And it would be the same for him, too. I don’t expect Adam to all of a sudden wake up tomorrow and tell me that his life has suddenly begun because we are now legally bound by a piece of paper that allows us to do things like buy a house together and get some tax breaks. But of course, society never says this phrase to the man.
Although I’ve had many male friends (both gay and straight) get married in the past several years, not a single one of them has ever said or implied that his life will begin when he is married. Why is that? Why do we consider that a man’s accomplishments before his marriage — his career, his friendships, his various successes and failures — don’t get a clean slate? Why do we still devalue what a woman has done before marriage — the same successes and failures in career and friendships and life in generall — and tell her that she isn’t complete and her life hasn’t truly begun until she is legally wed?
Well, I’m not here for that shit. So, in an ironic twist of fate, I have decided to start this blog on the day before my life supposedly “begins”. I want to do this because I want to showcase that a woman’s life isn’t worthy simply because she is married. However, I do believe that marriage can be a beautiful and important part of one’s life (hence why I am entering into the whole thing) so I won’t be discounting that either.
I will use this space to talk about these things: Marriage and feminism. Because I think they are important topics and important parts of our lives. At least my life, anyway.
Before meeting Adam, I was a fairly independent woman and I plan to remain that way. Of course, being married will also mean that I depend on another human being for some things (just as he will depend on me for other things). It might sometimes get a little bit complicated and it might sometimes go much smoother than I think. And other times, I will use this blog to talk about the overall experience of being a woman in today’s world.
If we’ve learned nothing else from #MeToo these last couple of months, it’s that sexism is alive and well. And I’ll want to talk about that too. Along with stuff happening in my life, stuff happening in my marriage, thoughts and wonderings on marriage/life/love in general, and a lot more. And if all goes well, maybe this will even be a podcast someday.
For now, though, I want to challenge the thinking that a woman’s life is only deemed worthy after someone else has put a ring on her finger. Although I am supremely excited for the next chapter of my life, it’s just that: Another chapter. Okay, so maybe it’s more like the start of a new Act — likely one that will alter the rest of the course of my life. But those other chapters and Acts happened, too, and they deserve to be recognized because they made me into the person I am today (and the person that Adam fell in love with).
So here’s to celebrating a new Act… while remembering and honoring the ones that came before. Happy wedding day to me.
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Image via Petr Ovralov/Unsplash
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