Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday's Musings: "The Most Important Decision in Your Lives"

I saw this movie Saturday night with a friend in Dallas, and I absolutely loved it. It might possibly be my new all-time favorite movie. (Go see it!)

Anyways, this scene in particular struck me because it feels so true. Getting married is likely "the most important decision I'll make in my life." (At least up to this point.) And unlike these two kids, I'm not in a hurry. I'm not so certain. I've thought about this a lot, and I'm terrified. I need a bit more time by the trampoline to talk this over.

See, I'm quite a bit older than Sam and Susy. I know myself a little bit better. I know a bit more about the world and how it works and the challenges that will probably come. (Or at least I think I do.) I can't just jump into this with wild abandon and child-like certainty. Commitment is hard. I'm a pretty selfish person, and both of us are far from perfect. What if something happens? What if we hate it? What if we drive each other crazy? What if we fight all the time? What if we both get into grad school/med school but in different cities? What if I don't have the career I think I want and I resent him? What if one of us someday regrets this? What if we're broke? What if our health fails? What if he dies? What if I accidentally get pregnant before we want to have kids? What if our plans don't work out?

I'm very talented at seeing worst case scenarios.

The last two weeks have been an interesting time for me and all these thoughts. The first week terrified me because, honestly, I didn't miss him. I dove right into the research work here and loved it. I was meeting new people and talking about theory and conflict and reading all day. If this is what grad school is like, I was sold. I was having so much fun. And suddenly, I worried that maybe I was making the wrong decision. If I could move to a new city and adjust this quickly and enjoy it so much, maybe I should be focused more on grad school. Maybe I want that more. And at the same time, I hesitated to tell the others on my program that I was engaged. In my field, twenty is a very young age at which to get married. And somehow I felt that telling people I was heading in that direction seemed the same as telling everyone that I was rushing into things and that I wasn't serious about my work and my future. (Not that that's in any way true.)

I went home the weekend after the first week for a lovely wedding and cried a lot. I spilled all my fears and doubts with Nate and talked about the mounting pressure I was feeling and this nagging fear that I'm not ready for this. (At the worst point, I confessed that I somewhat envied my friends that could just move in together without the commitment.) I told him about the negative stereotypes in my head associate with young brides and my fear that marriage meant I was chucking all my other plans and goals and identities out the window. It was hard. But I realized how much we already are a team and how much I lean on him.

This second week has been quite a bit different. While I'm still loving what I'm up to, I've seen the holes in my current life. I don't have someone to tell me to put down the books and rest and eat food (Nate usually does that). I miss having him around, talking with him, being with him. (I think a big part of the not-missing-him during the first week was due to the fact I knew I would see him that weekend.) Marriage is still terrifying, but I've met a few people who disprove the notion in my head that being married means you can't have a career and that you have to be a stay-at-home mom or something along those lines. My engagement came up in conversation, and no one looked at me as a "dumb kid" or someone who's not serious about my work. Turns out that stigma was just something I'd made up in my own head. (I do that quite a bit.)

I still want to go to grad school, and I want to marry Nate. And he wants to go to med school, and I want him to go. And I'm not sure how that's going to work. But we'll figure that out.

I'm still afraid sometimes that I'm too young to get married. I hear people talking about how they didn't "know themselves" at my age, and I think, "What if that's me? Do I 'know myself'? What does that even mean?" But I know that Nate and I are a good team, and we've been putting quite a bit of thought into this. (So many marriage books and marriage blogs and marriage articles and long discussions and questions and talks with mentors and talks with friends and talks with people who probably had no interest in my commitment fears and just couldn't figure out how to gracefully extricate themselves from the conversation...)

Those "what if's" are still rattling around in my head. And they probably will be for quite a while because I don't know the future and what it will bring. But I do trust that God would not intentionally guide me into a trap or something that will cause unnecessary misery.

I think that at some point, you just have to go for it. Not that one should rush into things, but there comes a point after prayer and planning and thought and counsel that you just have to jump. Because knowing myself, I'll never be 100% ready for this. I'm usually never 100% certain on these sorts of things. Driving away from the house after my first visit home from college, on the plane on the way to Russia, after hitting submit for the application to this program, I've had moments of panic, thinking "What on earth am I doing?!" I'm pretty sure I will have at least a couple of those moments even after I get married. Moments when I wonder why I ever though this was a good idea, moments when I question my judgement and worry about the mess I've gotten myself into. (At least this is what I've heard from some of the more experienced married couples I know.) But those will just be moments, and I think we've prepared enough to not experience those sorts of issues all the time. And we'll keep preparing.

Before we got engaged, I had been talking with one of my mentors quite a bit about marriage and my fears and uncertainties. And she finally told me that she thought I was ready to go for it because I'm "the kind of person who could always read one more book and talk to one more person, who could still be at the 90% sure mark three years from now." (Decisiveness is not my strong suit.)

We still haven't set a date yet. With so much keeping me busy here, long-distance wedding planning is not something I want to attempt to add to my plate. And at the moment I need a little bit more time to work through some of these nagging fears. (I promise we're still talking about it though. Hopefully there will be one set soon.) But I think engagement is slowly becoming something a bit more joyful and a bit less scary. I wouldn't say I love being engaged quite yet-- it's a bit too anxiety-inducing for my taste. (Wedding planning=terrifying. I'm not the party-planning type.) But I'm slowly figuring it out.

And who knows, maybe I'll get to the point where I can stand in front of someone, casually chewing bubblegum, and say that, yes, I've thought about this and I'm ready to get married, and I'm kinda in a hurry.

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