Marriage: Is It What You Want or What Society Wants for You?
Cameras flashed while others recorded video footage. Hooting and hollering could be heard in HD surround sound quality, as Ava looked into Ethan’s eyes while he was on bended knee. It was a frenzied, yet romantic scene. After three years together, Ethan was now asking Ava to marry him in a beautiful, dimly lit garden in front of everyone that they both knew and loved.
Three months later, Ava sat looking at a bridal magazine while waiting for her bridal dress consultant to pull gowns that fit her unique taste. She brought her mother and best friend, Portia, to help her in her quest for a dress. The bridal consultant returned with four dresses and she began trying them on. After trying on her second dress, she received a call from Ethan.
“Hey, babe!” Ava cheerfully answered.
“Hey sweetheart, what are you up to?”
“I’m at a bridal shop looking at dresses with mom and Portia, remember?”
“Oh yeah, that’s right,” Ethan said with an awkward pause.
Then he continued. “Will you be free for dinner later on?”
Ava replied, “Yeah, we should be finishing up soon. I can be ready by 7.”
“Ok love, I will come and get you then.”
Ava finished looking at dresses, and made it home in enough time to shower and get dressed for dinner. Ethan arrived promptly at 7. They made it to the restaurant, and were seated in a booth in a semi-secluded area.
Ethan seemed a bit anxious and nervous.
“Is everything alright?” Ava inquired.
Ethan let out a deep sigh then began, “You know I really love you and care about you, right?”
Ava slowly said, “Yes…I know.”
“Well, since I do care about you so much, I can’t do this to you…to us.”
Ava now puzzled said, “Do what, Ethan? What are you talking about?”
“I can’t go through with getting married.”
Ava sat frozen in her seat while he spoke.
Ethan continued, “You are an amazing woman, but I realized that getting married and maintaining a marriage isn’t what I really want.”
“What?! When did you come to this conclusion? Why would you ask me if this wasn’t what you wanted?” Ava asked, completely blindsided.
“I saw all of our friends settling down, and my parents began hinting for me to do the same. At first, I thought getting married was what I wanted. However, the things that I truly desire kept popping up in my head. I evaluated the things that I want, and what direction I want my life to go in. I want to travel, continue to explore, meet people, and eventually have children later in life. I know that doesn’t line up with the life we talked about having together, and it was only fair that I expressed how I really felt before we made a mistake. I'm really sorry.”
Quite naturally Ava was hurt, angry, and, of course, embarrassed that the wedding was now off. Ava, however, respected Ethan’s decision.
A lot of people have allowed society to condition them into living lives that are not their own. People have bought into this idea of what they are “supposed to be doing,” and a lot of times end up miserable. Marriage is one of the main societal norms and expected rites of passage that many place a pronounced emphasis on. Although marriage can be a beautiful thing if that is what you and your partner truly desire to have and to work for, it is important to understand that the act of getting married is not an achievement. It shouldn’t just be a mark to cross off of your bucket list, and it is not a requirement for everyone to live a happy and fulfilling life.
Ethan realized that constant travel was what made him happy. Although he desired companionship and knew Ava was a great catch, deep down, he knew that he did not want to be tied down to one woman. He also knew he wanted children, but at a much later stage in life. Ethan made a choice to be honest with Ava to avoid hurting her further. In making that decision, he chose happiness for himself, and gave Ava a fair chance at finding her own true happiness as well.
In this instance, we can clearly see that marriage just isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay. It is critical to take a hard look at who you are as a person, the things you want out of life, and the type of life you want to lead. Like Ethan, when self-evaluation merges with being completely honest with yourself, you may find that the white picket fence, husband/wife, kids, and the dog is not what will make you happy. At that point, it is up to you to either continue living a lie and be miserable or be honest with everyone, and go on to live your best life. Choosing the latter not only benefits you, but also saves another from wasted time and heartbreak in the long run.