This year, something very strange happened to my inbox. It became filled with letters from blog readers asking for advice. Love, career, relationship, college, life--all these serious questions! Look, there is a reason I keep this blog silly--so you won't take me seriously, y'all! But strangely you all seem to think I'm some wise old woman. Hmmm. I don't know if I'm doing something wrong or right!
Two weeks ago, I got two similar letters asking about marriage. "Dear Ate Frances, how do I know if I'm ready for marriage?" Dear kids, I don't know! My friend Kat of Kat Dy Finds offers her wise words: "If you're asking that question, then you're obviously not ready!"
But here is my explanation on why I don't know:
I'm nearly 35 years old. I've been madly in love with the same man for 12 years and have been married to him for 4. What do I know?! I'm just living life every day and learning something new each day, just like the rest of you. Marriage is hard some days, marriage is easy most days (at least, for me!). But I think that holds true for most things. But because you think I seem to have all the answers, I'll try to talk you through your woes.
Dear L, you said you're 22 and graduating this March. Your boyfriend since 2nd year high came up with the romantic idea of marrying right after graduation. You love him intensely but you're worried you're too young and that you might meet someone else. So what are you to do?
L, I think "too young" is any age below the legal age. But a few years ago, I'd have heartily agreed with you. I know too many people who got married in their teens and early 20s and are separated now. "What were they thinking?", I always snickered. But recently, I've met wonderful people who are happily married (or living together) and they tell me they married at 19, 21, 22, 24. I know a couple, both 35, who had an arranged marriage and they are sickeningly disgustingly all goo-goo eyes for each other since they were 14. Like I said, what do I know?
As for meeting someone else... Well, of course you'll meet someone else! Unless your husband plans to lock you up in a tower for the rest of your life, expect to meet guys who are richer, cuter, smarter, funnier, etc. Marriage certainly hasn't stopped a lot of people from falling in love with someone else. So it's up to you if you want to be true to your vows.
I've always believed that you should marry for love but that love shouldn't be the foundation of a marriage. It should be commitment. Because if it's love, well, what if one day you wake up and you don't love him anymore? Or he doesn't love you? Commitment and respect. That's what marriage is all about. If he is someone you respect and if you believe you and he are capable of a huge lifelong commitment, then what's age got to do with it?
Marriage is a hindrance to success?
Dear K, you're 27 years old and you're enjoying your career. Your boyfriend of 2 years is going to propose. You know this because you're a snoopy girl and you saw text messages between your guy and a jeweler. You're thrilled and scared because you love him madly but you're afraid marriage will end your career.
Well, K, I can totally relate. Vince asked me to marry him a month after we met and I turned him down because I was fresh out of college and haven't done anything in my life. My mistake there was I had thought Vince would be just like all the men in my family, who think women are meant for the kitchen and the bedroom. So I didn't want to get tied down. What I failed to see all those years was Vince is a wonderfully unconventional man. In fact, most of my career successes were his doing. He was my cheerleader, my guide, my mentor. He pushed me to work hard, to maneuver, to pick my battles, to win most of them, to advance up, up, up.
After Vince and I got married, my career blossomed even more. For one thing, people took me seriously. I think they think married people are more responsible so my boss gave me more responsibilities. Also, when you're married, you have a two-income household (I'm assuming you don't want to quit your job because of all your protests). With all that money, life is incredibly easy.
So what am I saying? K, if your guy is an open-minded man who isn't insecure about his woman's success, then you have nothing to worry about. It's much easier to go through life and a career with a man who believes in you, who has your back. But if he's the sort of guy who thinks little of women, believes you're only good for sex and service, and can't stand it if you're a success, well, then run away!
Love advice is hard to give because each situation is different, each intensely personal. I've learned not to give advice because if the situation doesn't end well, then I'm blamed. Girls, it's your life. Think it over and think well. It's good you're asking people what they think but in the end, it's your life and you're the only one responsible for it. So choose well! Good luck!