A Bride Confesses: I Hate Weddings.

Image source: [http://bit.ly/2eYsBD1]
Image source: [http://bit.ly/2eYsBD1]

I’m married, but I hate weddings.

This might come as a surprise to everyone who attended my wedding last year. Don’t get me wrong – we had a blast. It was a wonderful family reunion, and the best party we’ve ever thrown. I just really, really wish it hadn’t revolved around us.

My husband and I were very happy that our families wanted to celebrate our union. If we made our mothers happy, then mission accomplished. But I didn’t want to play bride. I just wanted to be a wife.

The day we got engaged, everyone went into production mode. Where will the wedding be? Do you know what kind of dress you want? Have you decided on colors? How many people are going to be invited?

It surprised me that so many people cared. But then, I hadn’t realized just how many people lose their shit over weddings. People love them. They’re a big deal. And while I felt ready for marriage, I was not ready for a wedding.

I Met My Boyfriend First But All My Friends Got Married Before Us

What I learned while waiting to get married until it felt right.

A woman at work just got engaged, and so did I. We were chatting about wedding plans, comparing rings, and eventually started talking about how we met our fiancés. She said she met hers this past November, and it was love at first sight. They were in a relationship by December and talking about marriage by February. I told her I started dating my fiancée nine years ago.

“Nine years?” She said, shocked. “That’s a really long time.”

And it is. It’s definitely not the norm to be together that long and still not be married. We were always happy, we were always in love, we just weren’t married.

And it drove me nuts.

It’s easy to give yourself a complex

Over the years I’ve seen so many friends tie the knot, and boy, was I jealous. I’d suffered through a million Facebook engagement announcements and had to drag myself to countless bridal showers.

At weddings I’d count on my fingers how many more years my boyfriend and I had been together than the bride and groom. And judge them accordingly.

At every wedding my boyfriend and I attended together (and there were a lot), I’d wonder why it wasn’t him and me up there in the fancy white dress and suit. Maybe, I thought, there was something wrong with us. Were we not as happy as I thought? Were we just compatible enough to want to be together, but not to make a big commitment?

It would have been different if we actively didn’t want to get married, or didn’t see ourselves together in the long-term. It would have been different if we weren’t right for each other.

But that wasn’t it.

We knew couples that got married with way more problems than we did. (One couple we knew got divorced within the year.) So then, I wondered, what was the holdup with us?

It’s hard to wait until the time is right

Sure, we were young. We met in high school, so by the time we’d been together three years (a reasonable time to get married) we were only twenty, and still busy with school. By the time we graduated from college, we were, well, just out of college. We’d both moved back in with our parents and were struggling to find jobs. Planning a wedding just wasn’t realistic.

It wasn’t like we hadn’t talked about it. We had, and usually decided we wanted to save money to have a bigger wedding (and honeymoon) later, or that we wanted to wait until I was done with grad school.

I knew it was reasonable to wait it out, let the right time come. But reason didn’t stop me from un-friending co-workers when they posted engagement pictures online. I mean, how dare they?

I’d spend my time at sorority sisters’ weddings perched by the bar, drinking too many flutes of champagne, unabashedly wrinkling my bridesmaid’s dress.

I Met My Boyfriend First But All My Friends Got Married Before Us

It’s easy to second guess yourself

Of course, the feminist in me struggles with this.

It’s embarrassing to look back on drunk-crying over cake, complaining that it should have been us on that cake topper, but the truth is, it was difficult for me. Even knowing my relationship was healthy and happy, I wanted what my friends had.

I felt like I was missing out on something that I deserved more than others, and it was a struggle to keep my friends.

Maybe some of the stress came from peer pressure. Everyone and their mother had been asking me when we’d be getting married since our second anniversary. And it was getting old.

Any time a good-natured friend would elbow me and say “you’re next” I’d force a smile and hope they couldn’t tell I was mentally punching them in the nose. But the more they pressed, the more my inner voice asked why we were waiting.

The question poked at my brain until eventually I realized: we simply weren’t ready.

I Met My Boyfriend First But All My Friends Got Married Before Us

The wait is hard, but worth it

Maybe that was hard to grasp when I watched my best friend try on wedding dresses, and maybe it didn’t make sense when I caught five bouquets in a row, but the truth is, it just wasn’t the right time yet.

We’re a pretty conservative couple, and it’s not our style to rush into things. We only spend the money we have, and we’re careful. We won’t even try a new restaurant before scrolling through all the reviews on Yelp. It’s not wild or whirlwind-romantic, but it’s us.

It wasn’t that we had a problem, I’d just managed to find the right guy about five years early.

And, when I think about that, it makes me feel really lucky. Now that we’re finally engaged, at 26, we’ve already spent almost a third of our lives together.

We know everything about each other, we have countless memories and thousands of pictures, which, I think, is a great start to the rest of our lives.

Loved this story? Read more about unconventional committed relationships on Love TV.

Beyond the Gender Norm: Taking a Married Name

I realized that there were far more stories to tell about this, especially beyond the heterosexual continuum.

When a person gets married, they are presented with a choice: do they take their spouse’s name or not? How does gender and societal expectations play into it?

Several months ago, I reported on my own experiences when I got married and the decisions of two women who made their own choices about taking a married name. I elected to keep my name in part to honor my own family, a disinclination for the process and a few other reasons. For the two I interviewed, their decisions had little to do with tradition.

When the article came out, I was astonished to find out how many people responded. People I hadn’t heard of were telling me about their experiences. It was more than an either or: take the name or not. There are many more additional possibilities  including combining names, and even creating new names.

I talked to three more couples about their experiences when they married. Names have been changed for anonymity.

Her husband decided to hyphenate his name too.

On a bright Sunday morning in October, I met with a lovely couple in a local coffee shop: “Samantha and Lawrence.” Lawrence had made the decision to hyphenate his name with Samatha’s.

“I had been given my grandfather’s name as my middle name because my mom very much valued her family name. I didn’t,” he said.

He went on to say that he comes from a very large family.

“While I love my mom and dad, I didn’t have an attachment to that idea.,” Lawrence continued. “So, when I got married, I just figured I would change my name. I think that hyphenating my name has made me closer to [her] family, which I really enjoy.”

Lawrence told me that he’s heard of those who take pride in their name.

“I know a lot of guys feel that they have to spread their name, but I have no intention of having children, I think helps part of it,” he said.

When I asked how his family handled his decision, he told me his parents are in denial.

“My mom still writes checks to me under my [old name],” he said.

When I questioned  Samantha about how her family reacted to his decision, she said they loved it.

“My family really likes that he’s into the name,” she said.” I think my dad really likes it a lot. Not in ‘you have to pass it down’ but as a gesture, you’ve become part of this. It feels more inclusive.”

Lawrence noted that the federal government makes it easy to change your name. “It takes about 15 minutes,” he said.

However, the state they live in is a different process. “I have been trying for three and half years to change my name on all documents… the State of Illinois refuses to do it unless I provide a marriage license, proof that I have changed my name with the federal government, three pieces of mail and some other stuff.”

His former colleagues at the company he worked when they got married were fine with it. His friends don’t call each other by their last name.

“With Internet culture, it’s much easier to have a different last name then you actually have.” his wife added. “We have a shared name on Facebook, so we have the sense that we are totally together without having to jump through any of the bureaucratic hoops.”

I asked Samantha about her decision not to change her name and she told me, “I never thought I would change my name.

“I never had any intention of doing so from an early age,” she said.” I decided I would never get married. If I got married by some strange coincidence, I would stick with what I liked. This is partially based a lot on feminist ideal.”

She explained that her mother didn’t change her name and was a model for her.

“It seemed difficulty to functionally change your name in society,” she continued.The bureaucracy of it. As [my husband] was going through it, I was like this was as terrible as I thought.”

There are  also professional considerations to take into account.

Lawrence and Samantha did note that they considered creating a new surname entirely.

“I believe we were going with Bloodaxe for a long period of time. Because it sounds real badass…I pulled back,” she said. “We both decided this was not, perhaps, how we wanted to be known at age 75.”

At the end of our interview, Lawrence indicated  it’s something he thinks more men should try.

“It’s one of the few pieces of toxic masculinity that I kinda find surprising in people.,” he said. “Some guys are just really resistant against this when they would be otherwise great feminists. It seems like one of those things: ‘Why would I even do this?’

He explained that, for him, it wasn’t a hesitation. “I wanted to be part of this family and I had in a way make myself closer to it. So I did it.”

Deciding which last name to take after the wedding might be easier for two men.

Newlywed Gay Couple Dancing on Wedding Celebration

A young gay couple in a bustling sandwich shop explained how things are easier for them.  Nearby us, a guitarist crooned classic folk and rock and roll songs.

I asked “Walter and Mark” about their decision not to change their names when they got married two years ago.

“We benefit in this regard from the same thing that our wedding benefited from, which is nobody has any preset expectations about a gay marriage,” Walter explained. ”In fact, it’s because of that. So far, we have not changed our names because people do not expect men to. We just figured it would be much more of a hassle than it would be for a woman, who people expect to have a maiden name or a hyphenated name.”

He said that for a man to change his name he thought people would find it suspicious or confusing. But there were other considerations. Mark is not currently a US citizen and explained, “That really complicated things. Changing your name whilst applying for your permanent residency.”

“My parents hyphenate our names when they send us packages.,” Mark said when explaining how others respond respond to their decision. “And our dogs have hyphenated names but we don’t.”

Walter noted that his father had a different reaction. He was offended Walter’s sister-in-law didn’t change her name when she and Walter’s brother married.

“I was talking to him about us doing it. He said, ‘Yeah, it would be silly for two men to change their name,’” Walter said.“Which is kinda sexist. I then I said, if we did change it, [we would hyphenate it one way]. He immediately said, ‘That sounds really cool. You should change it.’ Because it’s an aristocratic sounding name.”

At the end of the interview, Mark noted that no one has ever asked him about their married name before.

It felt very heteronormative to ask Molly to change her last name.

My final interview was with a young lesbian couple who just had their first child.

“Molly and Megan” decided what made them hyphenate their names when they married.

“I didn’t want to lose my last name.,” Megan said. “I had a lot of identity wrapped up in it. Ironically, I am more connected to my mom’s side of the family, but the last name is very Irish and I connect with my Irish roots.”

She explained that it felt heteronormative to ask Molly to change her name.

“We also knew we wanted to have kids and we wanted to share a last name with them, especially since I wouldn’t be connected genetically to them,” Megan continued. “Molly’s last name is already hyphenated and I certainly wasn’t going to have a triple hyphenated last name! She had a connection with [one of] the last name[s] so we hyphenated [with that].”

Neither of their families had a strong reaction and friends don’t care much either.

“The public in general is very confused by hyphenated last names and online forms often don’t let you add special characters,” Megan said. “So my name is now constantly being butchered, which is annoying.”

Sometimes the way a last name sounds determines

From these interviews, similar themes arose from my original interview. The issue of bureaucracy was a major one.  Changing names has implications for one’s career or even citizenship. There’s the bureaucratic hurdles of simply getting a named changed, especially in Illinois.

I was also struck by the issue of aesthetic of the names themselves. There was a sense with almost everyone about how certain names sounded better together, whether it was a first and last name, or the order of hyphenating names. There was simply a more harmonious way to combine names.

I briefly considered hyphenating my name with my husband’s but recalled how complicated it was to spell my last name as a dyslexic school child. As for creating a new surname, my husband and I considered combining our names in interesting ways: Shiz, Shoenpriz, Prizenberger…but none seemed to satisfy either of us.

One interesting theme that came up was the issue of children. Both Megan and Molly and Mark and Walter mentioned that they wanted to change their name if they had kids while Samantha and Lawrence specifically mentioned they were not.

That became the problem with my own long last name as a child. My mom told me that was part of her rationale for changing her name. My husband and I haven’t really discussed how we’ll handle this possibility but it’s an important consideration. Especially in light of my own experiences as a dyslexic child.

I was interested in how society approached the issue of gender when it came to the names. As Mark and Walter noted, no one had any expectation of them to change their names; no one had even asked. Lawrence noted how few men even consider changing or adding their wife’s name to their own.

These contrast with the viewpoints of all the women in my little study. We all had thought about the possibility. As women, we had grown up in a society that expected it. We all just had strong decisions or attachments to our names.

Of course, I should talk to my husband about the possibility of changing our names to the Bookaxes.

Why the Advice “You’ll Find Love When You Stop Looking” Could be More Harmful Than Helpful

This cliché line is helping exactly… no one. So why are we still saying it?

When you’re single and looking for love, you’re bound to hear some useless (and cliché) dating advice.

You might be familiar with famous eye-rollers such as: “You just need to get out more” or “Just have fun, don’t overthink it.” Sigh.

But one piece of advice sticks out to me as particularly unhelpful: “You’ll find love when you stop looking.”

Don’t get me wrong, I understand where this idea comes from. After all, it sort of makes sense: if you’re not stressed out about finding love you’ll probably feel more relaxed, conversations will feel less forced, and you might even be more likely to take chances.

But there’s a problem with this “stop looking” logic.

Dr. Pepper Schwartz, a relationship expert (best known for Lifetime’s Married at First Sight), points out that it’s like saying, “You’ll find a job when you’re least looking for it.”

“It’s possible,” she says, “but rarely happens.” She adds that,“For the most part, people who wait for a job are unemployed. For me, it’s just an excuse for being scared to go and put the effort in. Yes, it happens, but no, it’s not a good strategy.”

And sure, maybe one day someone great will fall into your lap: you’ll have instant chemistry, everything in common, and the two of you will live happily ever after. We’ve all heard stories where something like that happens to a friend of a friend, so I guess it’s possible.

But you shouldn’t bet on it.

“You’ll find love when you stop looking” is dumb

People like to say things like “stop looking for love” because trying to find a great relationship is hard and not finding someone after putting yourself out there can be disappointing. You could potentially do everything right: you could introduce yourself to new people, go on dating sites, join clubs, go on blind dates, and still not have that special someone to bring to your cousin’s wedding.

It can be disheartening, scary, and disappointing to be out there looking for love knowing that there are no guarantees when it comes to relationships. Dating can make anyone feel vulnerable and uncomfortable. So, taking a step back and saying “Psh, I’m not even looking for love right now” might seem like a good way to make sure you aren’t disappointed.

But stopping the search isn’t the answer.

In fact, putting yourself out there and setting yourself up for disappointment is part of the whole “relationship” thing. Looking for love and finding is all about leaning into the scary stuff: putting yourself out there, being vulnerable, and taking chances. And that doesn’t end once you get into a relationship.

In fact, it’s usually just the beginning.

I met my fiancé in high school. We’ve been together for almost a decade now and in just a couple months we’ll be getting married. I know how uncommon it is to marry your high school sweetheart (in fact, it’s statistically ridiculous). So, for a long time I thought we were the poster couple for the “you’ll find love when you’re not looking” philosophy.

After all, people were always saying I was so lucky to have found my future husband so early in life. And I am lucky. I’m blessed with a great relationship with an amazing guy, but our relationship isn’t based on luck or chance. We didn’t get to 10 years by accident.

We choose each other.

Happy loving couple

We’ve been together for so long because every day we make the choice to be together. We make ourselves vulnerable every day: taking risks and making compromises. We make plans around each other. We have love because we truly and completely want it, and are willing to work for it.

I like Dr. Pepper Schwartz’s advice because I think that getting into a relationship is a lot like landing an amazing job. To get that job you’re probably going to have to put in a lot of effort: you’ll need to go back to school or get some training. You’re going to need to do some research and improve your skills.

You might even need to update your résumé, get a new suit, and all-around make yourself a good candidate for the job. And if you don’t get one job, it could be embarrassing or disheartening, but soon you’ll find a new one and you’ll apply for that too.

But the important thing is that it doesn’t get easier once you finally do get hired. It’s really only then when the real work starts. That’s when you have to start making compromises, focusing more time on your career, and working hard to make the relationship…I mean job… great.

You can’t be afraid to do all the things you need to do to find a partner, because that same stuff is required to maintain the relationship. This idea that singles should stop looking, that they’ll get more out of trying less is only setting people up for disappointment and bad relationships… and that isn’t fair.

Like I said, when you’re single, you’re going to get all kinds of bad advice. But the idea of trying less is probably one of the worst.

Maybe there is no great advice that works for everyone, no magic words of wisdom to guarantee everyone exactly the relationship they want. But, I’ve found that if you can take the risks and do the work to find someone special, you’ll be ready for the relationship, and the love, you deserve.

Why Young Hollywood is Getting Engaged and Married Super Early…Should You?

You’ve seen the headlines—Pete and Ariana, Justin and Haley—young Hollywood seem to be getting engaged and married earlier than ever.

As someone who is most likely going to marry later in life, I was intrigued by the trend of young Hollywood starting to engage and marry young. It worked decades ago, will it work now? Here is an examination of young Hollywood and everything you’ll want to know about marrying young.

Here is an examination of young Hollywood and everything you’ll want to know about marrying young.

Pete Davidson and Ariana Grande

The Saturday Night Live star, 24, and singer had a quick courtship and within weeks were engaged. Davidson told Variety that he never planned to get married. He also never thought he’d meet anyone like Grande, calling her the “coolest, hottest, nicest person” he’s ever met. Davidson constantly gushes about how lucky he is to be engaged to Grande (most recently he appeared on the season premiere of SNL talking about it).

Grande, 25, has seemed just as equally smitten with Davidson. She named a song after him on her newest album Sweetener. She also admitted on an episode of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon that she had a big crush on Davidson from the time she first met him while hosting SNL. She even joked to a manager that she would “marry him” one day.

Ariana and Pete

Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin

The “Baby” singer, 24, and Baldwin, a model, married in mid September 2018 after almost a decade of being on-again, off-again. The two first met back in 2009 at The Today Show and were introduced by Baldwin’s dad Stephen. Baldwin, 24, and Bieber stayed in touch and by 2014, the two were denying that they were dating.

By January 2016, the two became “Insta” official. Throughout the next few years, Bieber and Baldwin went quiet, around the time he reignited his relationship with Selena Gomez. Finally, in May 2018 they became friendly again and four months later, they wed.

Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner and Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra

While Joe was 28 when he asked Turner to marry him. Turner, however, was just 21. The two became “official” in January 2017 when Turner Instagrammed a photo of Jonas holding a cigar on a boat in Miami.

News of the relationship came out officially in June 2017 when it was reported Joe was “taking the relationship very seriously.”

Joe’s brother Nick, 26, took the opposite route and asked the 10-years-his-senior actress Priyanka Chopra. Despite having four years left until he hits 30, Nick is known in his age group as mature.

Why might they be getting engaged and married young?

Think of it this way—many of us wait nowadays to marry in order to establish ourselves in our careers and earn money. Celebrities like Justin Bieber and the Jonas brothers may be engaged and married because they’ve found their success already at such a young age. They managed to make millions before even being eligible to vote or drive.

This article from E News said it best: famous people in their early 20s sort of grow up in reverse. While they were busy earning money we were teenagers with our first cell phones, watching the beginnings of reality TV.

If you’re worried about whether or not you’re settling down later in life, don’t fret. These celebrities never had their teenage years like we did. They grew up in the spotlight where every little move they made was scrutinized. We were allowed to mess up, date and become our own people with a sense of anonymity.

In fact, we are all actually in the majority. According to a Pew Research Center study, the median age of a first marriage in the country has risen to 27 and 29 for women and men. Four decades ago the ages were 20 and 23, respectively.

For celebs who crave traditionality, getting engaged and married may be one of the few “normal” things they do in their lives.

Is marrying young right for you?

If your significant other and you are young and thinking about getting married, it’s important to think about a few things before you take the plunge. To give you a bit of hope, a research study by the National Institutes of Health said that the ages of 22 to 25 is the alleged sweet spot to get married (so perhaps there’s hope for young Hollywood!).

Wanting kids is another reason for marrying young. Just think, you’re younger and most likely healthier and more energetic, making it easier to run after little ones.

While marrying young is often a controversial topic, it’s crucial to think not only about age when you decide to get engaged. Your partner should share similar values as you, be able to tell you everything and vice versa, respect you and make you strive to be the best version of yourself. After all, age really is just a number, right?