It’s interesting to listen to how many ways people view relationships, but also, how they define what being in a relationship is for them. It’s truly interesting to hear the stories that people tell me as to how they met the other person. Some people have known their significant other since childhood. While others have met at bars, work, or through mutual friends. When I think about the stories I find myself surprised to hear when people today marry in their early 20s. It seems like there’s a whole lifetime ahead of them to make that commitment. While other stories that I hear of people staying together because they feel too old to start over saddens me. Life is too short to not be happy. I understand that we all come into this world with responsibilities. We all have bills to pay, but life gives us the chance to make choices. I think that’s so true even in relationships.
There is that age-old thinking that if you’re not married then there must be something wrong with you. An unmarried man in his 50s becomes a bachelor and with gray hair distinguished. For the unmarried woman she becomes an old maid and with gray hair she is seen as aging. A cliché of labels that really don’t bring about any truth to a person’s real life scenario that I often wonder why do we have to put labels on people and what if they’re not married because they just don’t want to be married? Then it dawned on me, we put these types of labels on unmarried people just to make ourselves feel more comfortable. We don’t need an explanation for another person’s choices.
A young girl in her early twenties told me about the story of when she was about to get married. When telling me the story she explained that she told her dad that “she wanted to get married so that she would be happy.” He asked her “are you getting married for your happiness?” She replied “I think so.” It was then that her dad gave her some great advice. “If you’re getting married for you, then you’ve got it all wrong. You don’t get married to make yourself happy. You get married to make someone else’s life happy.” I thought to myself, these are words to live by. I have seen so many people stay in marriages and relationships because of fear. Fear that they won’t have the security of a relationship as they get older. That they won’t have someone to take care of them when they are old and unable to care for themselves any longer. Relationships aren’t security blankets. There is no relationship secure enough. No guarantee that when we are old, that we won’t be alone. Or that whatever relationship that you are in today will be the one person will put your happiness before their own. I think the childhood song “If Your Happy and You Know It” says it best: “If you’re happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands (clap, clap).”