On Marriage

(This could probably be titled “On being an adult”, but I’ve lost count of how many of my posts could be titled that way)

I spent Thursday and Friday in bed, feeling crappy and bored. I also felt quite guilty for not being in the lab, for not working out, etc. I guess it was good to listen to everyone else and just stay home getting better. Now it’s Sunday, it’s cold, I’m feeling better and I’m going for a run in a couple of hours (will I regret it afterwards? hopefully not).

But I digress (surprise!). The point is that while in bed, I watched a ton of questionable movies. In my defense, I watched “The King’s Speech” for a second time (great movie). One of those questionable movies was “Leap Year“. I didn’t particularly like it, but it did its job; I just wanted something stupid enough that would keep me entertained without making me think much nor making me feel embarrassed. You’ve seen this story before: cute upper-class girl, in a serious stable relationship with a successful not-that-good-looking guy (a cardiac surgeon in this case, but it could have been a cook, or a lawyer, or…). Suddenly, she meets this über handsome guy, and against all odds they fall in love and live happily ever after. Nothing new there. The only interesting thing (and the reason I’m writing all this) is because when her boyfriend fails to propose, she decides to propose to him. In a country like the US, where proposals are a big deal, and everyone squeaks at the sight of a big rock and asks to hear “the story” of the proposal (if you don’t live here, you’ve seen this in several movies), the idea of a woman proposing to her guy sounded quite out-of-place to me. What did I do, then? I googled. And I found this great post (and great comments!).

I probably spent more time reading the post and comments than actually paying attention to the movie. It certainly got me thinking; one (out of many) thing that surprised me about Americans is their attitude towards marriage, proposals and all that. Among the married people I know back home there are no “proposal stories”, no big rings (you don’t want to be such an easy target, believe me), nothing of that sort. Usually people decide to get married because they’ve been in a serious stable relationship for a reasonable amount of time and decide it’s time to take the next step. Some couples “get engaged” (and this is something several teenagers do, not because they’re getting married, but just because they’re “more serious” than the average teen couple), which means they exchange engagement bands and at some point later on, there’s a wedding and all that. We have  words for “fiancé” and “fiancée” (and they’re in Spanish, not in French!), but no one uses them; you either have a boyfriend or a husband.

(In case you’re wondering, I’m writing all this because I know Nico won’t read it)

People here have a hard time understanding that Nico and I are neither married nor engaged. When people ask me, I tell them I’m “married for most practical purposes: we have a joint back account, we live together and we have two cats”, but I try to make it clear that I’m not married and that Nico is my boyfriend (why? I don’t know). Conversely, what he does is just tell people he’s married, and then explain if necessary.

Some years ago, I was quite anti-marriage. I saw no point in it (and part of me still does). I mean, why do we need to get married? Aren’t we serious enough already? I guess it doesn’t make such a difference in Argentina, but here it does. So I’m hesitant now. Should we just do the paperwork and be done with it? I don’t want a big ring (seriously, I don’t even like most of them), I don’t need a “story” to tell people (the story of how we met and ended up in East Lansing is good enough). Actually, there’s a part of me that doesn’t even want to tell people if we do it. Of course I’d love a nice party (who doesn’t like parties, after all?), but that has to be in Argentina (if we weren’t sure, Nico’s mom made that very clear), and it will take a lot of time and money, and we have none of those now. That’ll have to wait.

What does this have to do with the post I read and all that? Well, that post and all those comments were quite reassuring. Reading about other women that either didn’t get engaged, or propose to their men, or didn’t want a ring, etc, made me feel better about the whole thing. It taught me something: we aren’t the only non-traditional couple out there. You don’t “have to” get engaged, he doesn’t have to ask your parents’ permission (regardless of what you see on pinterest) and you don’t need a big rock and a cute out-of-pinterest proposal story to tell your acquaintances. Didn’t I know that already? Yes, but my experience here was making me forget it. And sometimes it gets hard to deal with the stereotypes and all that.

So I guess we’ll remain happily non-married for a while.

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