The Bridal Wave: A Survival Guide to the Everyone-I-Know-is-Getting-Married Years
This brilliant book has really helped me sort things out. I was browsing around the self-help section in the library one day, thinking how stupid, shallow and anti-feminist it is that most of the titles are about "finding The One" or "How to make him love you"--and then I found this. It was like the authors knew what I was thinking. A guide to avoiding the pressure to get married.
My favorite chapter is about the timeline--the "I always thought I'd be married by now" thoughts. Despite all the fun I've had, all the cool places I've been to, all the exotic & interesting guys I've met--the younger me (back in high school) always thought I'd be settled down by this point. If not with a high school sweetheart, then with a college boyfriend. If not college, then grad school--but now I've got a Master's degree and there still aren't any marriage plans in the works. But this book reminded me that you can't (and shouldn't) live your life according to a timeline you set for yourself when you were a kid.
Another favorite is the competition idea. You've known these girls for ages, and always been at about the same place in your life--driving, graduating high school & college, etc. all at roughly the same time. But now they're getting engaged, getting married, having kids--and you're not. Even worse is when you see girls you've always hated--how did she find somebody before me? This book really puts into words the thoughts I've had for the past couple of years. It's not a competition--we don't know what their relationship is like behind-closed doors, and even if it's great, well...I don't have to get up for 2 am feedings and they do. I'm free to jet off to Europe and do a PhD, and they're not.
When I was detained at the UK border and questioned about my relationship with Richard, the immigration officer asked about our future plans. I answered it well, saying that we had discussed it and we are both interested in a long-term relationship. Then she asked if I was planning to settle down in the UK, as part of this plan, and I said I didn't know where we would settle down. While I answered these questions calmly and just wanted to get out of the detaining hall, on the inside I was fuming. I resented the fact that I was having "the talk" with an immigration official before I'd had it with my boyfriend. Why was I being asked these personal questions in a room with 2-way mirrors and a bolted-down chair, instead of at a candlelit dinner or scenic viewpoint with my boyfriend? More importantly, how do you field questions from strangers about your relationship--"when are you guys going to make it official", "I'll bet you're going to be next!", etc.?
This book has silenced all those stupid questions and worries, and helped me to just enjoy my life & relationship, without worrying about the timeline or competition, or the opinions of strangers & border officials.