The inevitable question

Today, I had coffee with a dear friend who I see far too rarely. Distance and busy-ness combine to prevent us from seeing each other more than once or twice a year, and even our phone calls are far less frequent than ideal. However, she is also a friend with whom time never makes a difference. On some level, we just “get” each other, which makes it easy to pick up as though no time at all has passed.

Today was no different. I think it’s been two months since we last talked, and I think over a year since we’ve last seen each other, and yet it’s easy to feel she still “gets” me. And yet…she too asked the inevitable question. Namely, “When are you going to get married?”

It’s not unexpected; my boyfriend and I have been together for nearly four years, and have lived together for two and a half years. We’re both employed, we own a house, and we are more stable in most ways than many others of our age. We have a great relationship. He is my best friend and I truly enjoy spending time with him more than anyone else. He’s also the love of my life. I still get butterflies when I see him after one of us has been gone for a weekend. I look forward to seeing him at the end of the day. We’re truly blessed to have what we have.

So the marriage question is understandable; it’s also frustrating. I always feel I have to defend us–to prove that we really are happy and healthy and in love. I know better; I know that the “standard” timetable doesn’t necessarily have to be our timetable. We’ve talked about marriage and it is in our future, but I don’t know the exact timing. Sometimes that’s frustrating to me; sometimes it doesn’t really seem to matter all that much, especially when I look at our married friends who seem to be much less happy than we are. I don’t attribute that unhappiness to marriage; it just makes me value what we have, and I don’t want to take that for granted.

I haven’t yet figured out the perfect answer to the question; I don’t want to become defensive or rude. Part of me wants to say, why does it matter? but I know that generally people are asking because they want to know when they can celebrate with us; they are more often than not recognizing that we are happy, and curious as to when we’re going to “cement” that happiness. So I do my best to be gracious; to not take it in a spirit of fear or doubt. To not be afraid to say “I don’t know”; to let them see that we are who and what we are, and that it is enough for now. To be grateful to friends who are not afraid to ask to be sure that I am happy with where I am, who are willing to push me to seek happiness if I do not currently have it.

It’s an inevitable question; from my friends, my family, my coworkers, and sometimes from myself. It’s one I’m learning to be ok with–one I have to be ok with, because it doesn’t define me or my relationship, it’s just a side effect. It’s about learning to be ok with uncertainty. We often seem to want definitive answers to everything; to want guarantees or predictions as to what will happen. But that’s not life. Life is inherently unpredictable, and all we can do is learn to live with grace in the moment. To embrace the inevitable, to not fear the unknown.

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