Ask Meg: F*ck The Economy (Get Married Now)

I got this letter in my email… about a second ago, and I had to answer it NOW. The media has been drumming a constant tune of, “In this economy people are waiting to get married.” And as the recession drones on and on (oh, I’m sorry, ‘the recovery’) someone needs to step in with a big can of sane. And um, I’m nominating myself?  So here is reader Rowenna’s question:

How do you know when you’re ready to get married? In the online wedding community, most of the women seem to be on a similar track – they’ve been proposed to, and they can start planning their wedding right away. My experience is very different than that. My boyfriend and I have been ready to get married for at least a year. We’ve been discussing it for a long time. We know we want to get married, we know we want to start our life together, and we are so ready for that. But we’re not engaged. We’re not planning a wedding. We decided that we would start actually planning the wedding once we were in a good life position. We wanted to wait until we had secure jobs and were in a good position to move in together. Unfortunately, things have not worked out well. I am in graduate school in one city, and my boyfriend lives almost an hour away. We expected things to “work out” much sooner, but several job opportunities fell through for my boyfriend. He currently has a temporary job, which has the possibility of becoming a permanent position, but the problem is the uncertainty. How can you plan a future when you have no idea where your future is going?

We are so frustrated right now, because we just want to be married, and yet we know it’s the “smart” and “responsible” thing to wait until we know what’s going on in our lives. It seems silly to get married without knowing what our future is… but I can’t help but feel that no matter what happens, we know that we’re going to get married – should we let those uncertainties about the future dictate our plans? And is it stupid to get married if there’s a chance that we won’t be able to move in together for another six months or so?

Should we just be patient, or should we just go ahead and get hitched, disregarding what other people will think or say? To be clear, neither money nor family support is a part of what’s stalling our decision. Help!

Ok lady. You know how they say that life is what happens while you’re busy making plans? That’s actually true. As you wait and wait for the perfect moment, life is happening. Right now. So a few thoughts:

First, there is no perfect moment, ever. If you’re waiting for everything to be ‘right,’ you could wait a long time. Second, the reason we get married is to tie our destiny to someone else. It’s to vow to be with them for better or for worst – to stay with them when they are unemployed, to figure out how to make do when things get really tough. That’s the power of the marriage vow. It’s saying, “Even though I have no idea what the future will hold, I want to tie my life to yours anyway.” When you’re ready to make the promise, you’re ready to get married. Period.

Sure. Maybe you wait till you can live together, maybe you work out some specific details. But you don’t wait and wait for something vague on the horizon. Maybe it takes your husband a year to find a job he likes. Fine. That’s a year you can spend married, supporting each other both literally and figuratively, or that’s a year you can spend apart, waiting. But it’s still going to take him the time it takes him to find a great job. Not getting married won’t change that. And trust me, supporting each other is something I know a little about.

Most of us here grew up during a prolonged economic boom. We got used to the idea that marriage was more about economic better than economic worse. We got used to the idea that you get a good job, you get everything lined up, and then you get married. But that’s not how life is anymore for many of us. We seem to have forgotten that when times get hard, that is the very best time to become a family. That is the very best time to combine forces and try to make it together. That’s what our grandparents did, and our great grandparents did. They took each other in worse, and worked together to create better.

So for all of you, today, some inspiration. Here is your antidote to all the media stories of people waiting to get hitched till the great recession is over (whenever that is…)

Here is a tiny recession wedding, where the bride altered her mother’s wedding dress.

Here is a tiny courthouse wedding, where the bride grinned her face off.

Here is a wedding thrown together in three weeks, because the bride was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Here is a wedding that took place in the bride’s parents tiny crowded perfect living room.

And here, here is a sneak peak of the Local Squared wedding. The wedding where APW & the *amazing* Kate Harrison joined forces to give away wedding photography to a couple that really needed it. (More of this wedding coming soon…)

So. To all of you waiting and wondering? You don’t get perfect. You just get someone that you want to spend imperfict with. And that is the biggest gift in the world.

Pictures: First and last are Kate Harrison and the Local Squared wedding, second picture Linda Wan Photography, third Gabriel Harber Photography, fourth Leah and Mark, fifth Cappy Hotchkiss

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  • I think that this serves as a reminder to all of the married’s as well. Thank you for answering it right away.

  • barbara

    My fiance and I are getting married in December. He was unemployed most of 2009. Now he has a job at a maximum security youth detention center. Not ideal. He’s never home, stressed out and sickened at what he sees on a daily basis. His father lost his job right after he found the job he’s in. So his mother is supporting their family. My family has thankfully begun recovery from my grandmother’s fight with Alzheimer’s from forever ago to the day she died in 2008.

    In my mind things could still get worse so it made sense (to me!) to get married as soon as possible! We are thankful to be young, have our health, and see that our families are happy if not a little “inconvenienced” by the current economy so we decided we were ready to get married in April. (by that I mean he proposed. We have spoken for years about it. The unemployment threw him for a loop. I begged to get married sooner!) All of this while living about 45 mins (sans traffic) apart.

    I get why people are scared off. We have all been spoiled by years of a steady economy. But weddings are about hope for the future, a kick ass party and a celebration of your eternal love with your community.

    Becoming a family is always going to be a challenge. Marriage is not for the faint hearted, even in the best times.

    My advice: Don’t wait any longer to share you’re joy in one another!!!

  • abby_wan_kenobi

    Right on, Meg!!

    Me and my husband (of one month!) got engaged while he was teaching in Pennsylvania and I was working in Alabama. We hoped that in the 11 months between engagement and marriage we’d be able to get somewhere we could live together. 3 weeks ago I transfered to my company’s office in Virginia. It’s a 4.5 hour drive to my hubby’s.

    We are so happy. It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks about neither of us giving up our jobs or us not living together. Marrying each other was a decision that had nothing to do with the careers we each love or the economy that has tied us to our current positions. We’re grateful that we can see each other every weekend now, and that we can save all that money we were spending on plane tickets before. We checked our marriage license twice and nowhere does it say we must live together or file taxes in the same state. It’s pretty cool just to be in the same time zone.

    F*ck the economy. Get married when you are passionate about marrying the one you love.

    • Rowenna Thorson

      It is so wonderful to hear from people who have done what we’re considering doing… but I am still uneasy about getting married and living apart. Part of me feels like marriage is such a big step and such a defining moment, and it really does change a relationship. And I feel that if we are living apart doing two different things, and we go, get married, have a honeymoon, and then just go back to our normal lives, that we won’t feel married. That it just won’t seem right. If things are going to be the same as they were before, then what’s the difference between being married and not?

      And another question, do you get a lot of comments from other people about the situation? I don’t want to care what other people think, but I’d like to be prepared….

      • so here’s my question. why can’t you live together?

        you’re working and presumably living somewhere. he’s living (only) an hour away.

        can’t you live TOGETHER somewhere at the halfway point?

      • Meredith

        “I feel that if we are living apart doing two different things, and we go, get married, have a honeymoon, and then just go back to our normal lives, that we won’t feel married. That it just won’t seem right. If things are going to be the same as they were before, then what’s the difference between being married and not?”

        You can flip this arguement right around though. What if you already live together? And have been for years. And then you go and get married, go on a honeymoon and return to your normal life. It’s the same life you had before you got married. Everything is the same, except that YOU’RE. MARRIED!!! That’s a pretty big exception. For a lot of people here, it seems the difference between being married vs. not (especially for those that lived together first) is not sweeping; it’s a calm stability. A realization that this person will ALWAYS be with you, and that realization brings stability and contentment and excitement. Though your daily life is very much the same, your feelings and relationship are not.

        • Theresa

          YESSSS! We lived together for 5 years before getting married. And being married feels a lot like living together while dating. But now we’re tied together a little more strongly, it feels a little more…comfortable, permanent. Home.

      • Marina

        “…and then just go back to our normal lives, that we won’t feel married.” I think this is a concern for everybody, no matter their situation. Or SHOULD be a concern for everybody. I mean, for most of us, marriage ISN’T a huge change in the day to day activities of life. So… what is marriage, then? Why are you getting married? Will those reasons still be there even without any dramatic lifestyle change?

        A year ago I was on my honeymoon. Marriage felt huge and strange and like I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I wasn’t sure whether my relationship with my partner was changing, or whether I wanted it to change, or really what was going on at all! And then we got home, and went back to our normal daily activities. Except we were married. Except I kept looking at my ring and thinking, wow. I’m going to be with this guy for the rest of my life. It still makes me think “wow”. I hope it always will. For me, at least, that’s what marriage has turned out to be about, not about any changes in my life or relationship.

      • Michelle


        I want to share my circumstances with you. My boyfriend and I will, if nothing changes, celebrate our 6th year of dating in October. We’ve been talking about marriage for 4 of those years. During them, he graduated college, I graduated a few years later, we got an apartment together, I had and lost a full-time job not once, but twice, while he hasn’t been able to find a full-time job.

        I’m now looking to work for the U.S. Foreign Service. It’s a job description that means I’ll live most of my life out of the country. If we’re married, my boyfriend can follow me and live with me – most of the time. Assignments change every 2-3 years, and there are places on the globe I could be assigned to, and he may not be allowed to come due to lack of facilities or danger for American citizens. I don’t get total control over where my assignments are.

        So for me, it’s not something I live with at the moment (I have the apartment, and him in it, but no ring and no vows), but something I know is part of the career I’m pursuing. There will easily be 6-9 years of marriage where I won’t even be on the same continent as he is.

        If I get the job, we’ll be moving from central NJ where we live now to D.C. for my job training. Our wedding will probably happen at the county court hours between the job offer and the move, and I’m hoping we can combine a small reception somewhere with a goodbye party as we get ready to make our move. We can’t afford to throw any kind of big ceremony for our family, and it dodges some religion issues we’ve never addressed with our folks this way.

        It’s certainly not traditional to live apart when you’re married. It’s not how we’re taught it happens. But the reality for me is wanting to have that ability for us to support each other, and the official document that tells the world that we are a family. We’ll figure out how to deal with anything beyond that.

  • I really like this post Meg! Especially since I am young(er) and still have law school in my future (starting next year), and my husband is in the military, and our future is far from certain in the wheres and the hows. We took advantage of the best time in his military career to get married (a month+ of leave), but I don’t have a steady job or a career, and we got married straight out of undergraduate school (as in, three weeks after we both graduated).

    The beauty of APW is the encouragement it gives us all to find what works for us and do it. Along the way, you (Meg) and so many others share wonderful little tidbits reminding us all what really matters. I know for sure that I’m going to keep reading long into my marriage. Thank you!

  • I really needed to be reminded of this today. Having looked at our budget last night, argued, stormed off (yep not my finest hour) and recollected ourselves it’s good to remember that those extras we had hoped to afford (and now can’t) don’t matter – what matters is that bride’s massive grin in the second photo – for that reason roll on the wedding day, and roll on being husband and wife!

  • Holy crap, girlfriend, if you want to get married, DO IT! My husband and I got married during the worst of the economic crisis, with him only 2 years into owning his own business because we were in love and wanted to strengthen that bond and knew that no matter what we would STAND BY EACH OTHER.

    Even more importantly, getting married in a bad time meant that things stood a better chance of getting good and, believe me, they have.

    If it makes you feel any better, we got ridiculously good deals and the best service on everything because vendors were so pleased that someone was still spending money at a time when no one else was. We talked the price down on everything or managed to get little add ons (like a super-premium bar for the price of rail).

    The future is always uncertain, even when you think you can see it clearly. Take it from someone who’s more than “been there, done that” and often times thought she wouldn’t return. If you’d ask me 10 years ago if I saw myself where I am today? Boy HOWDY, not a chance in hell. But I love it here. :)


    I wish this post was written when we announced that we were getting married. We got so many “why don’t you save so you can have a nice wedding?” and “don’t you think you’re rushing?” Save for what? Rushing to do what? Like you said- if you’ve already made a promise to tie your destiny to someone else- why the eff not? We were both living in my on campus apartment. We got paid shit, not knowing if/when bills would be paid. But we had a roof, we had each other, we had our cats. We were blissfully happy, still are, so why wouldn’t we want to get married?

    Marry him, Rowena. Marry the crap out of him and be blissfully happy. Don’t sit around and wait for the economy to be ready. If you’re ready, go for it.

    • “Marry the crap out of him” I love this! hahaha :)

    • lolo7835

      I am so using the phrase “marry the crap out of him” in my daily life from now on. AWESOME. :D

  • Laura

    So true, Meg… Our best friends got married in December 2008, and they are a perfect example of how this can work. They’d been in a long distance relationship for 4 years while she was in college. When she started medical school, they bought a condo together in the new city. He proposed that February and, like I said, they were married in December.

    All of this happen while he lived 5 hours away. He works for the post office and could not get a transfer to be with her. In fact, he didn’t get his transfer until almost a year and a half after they were married. It was hard, especially when other people would (trying to be nice) tell the couple that they felt sorry for them. Even as he took his transfer, they knew there’d be a chance they’ll be separated again when she starts residency. She doesn’t know where she’ll be, so he could have an even harder time getting his next transfer.

    It’s like you said, all of these issues were going to happen whether they were married or not. But now they have each other and will get through it together.

  • Carbon Girl

    Don’t worry what other people will think either even if you have to continue to live apart. My husband and I met this adorable older couple at the local ice cream parlour last Friday (whoa that sounds quaint, doesn’t it?). He had come down from North Carolina to visit her in Florida. After years of marriage, she had to move away for a job, to try to get more money for their upcoming retirement and he had to stay behind to keep working at his job. Now he drives 8 hours almost every weekend to see her. They are not sure what the future holds for them and they are 60! I just saw a lot of love there even in their unconventional circumstances. It gave me hope because in two years when I finish graduate school, we may be in a similar situation.

  • All I have to say is f*ck “smart” and “responsible”. The boy waited until all his ducks were in a row before proposing, we bought a house, he had a good stable job that he loved and I worked from home. Things had gone smoothly for a year so he bought a ring and the day after he picked it up he got laid off (automotive industry crash) and was out of work for 10 months. He still proposed three weeks later to my surprise. We were fortunate in that I have a rather well paying job for the area in which we live (yay telecommuting!) and so we planned the wedding, we shuffled money around and he was finally able to find work this past February. We’ve been saving like mad over the past 5 months to pay for our Labour day weekend wedding and everything is working. I’ve always said if you want something bad enough nothing can stop you from getting it.

    If you two want to get married you should do it! :) Also there’s a good chance that getting married may actually assist your boyfriend in securing employment.

  • Meg, you are a veritable compendium of non-traditional wedding awesomeness. I would love a screen shot of your desktop. The organization! The cross-referencing! You should become a wedding librarian.

    • meg

      Ha! It’s all in my brain, if you can believe it. I have every wedding graduate committed to heart. I can probably even tell you how each one got their not totally traditional dress, if you quizzed me.

  • my fiance and I had been together 7 years when I moved over to london from new england for a job. 6 months later he joined me. one month after that he proposed.

    I was making almost no money. he didn’t have a job at all. london is one freakin expensive city to live in. we had the same exact feelings and concerns as you guys.

    so we set a date for 2 and a half years in the future (this was a year and a half ago, next sept is the date), to ensure we would be in a place where we could give this wedding shin-dig our all. we envisioned we would both have full time jobs with competitive salaries, be in a place of our own (we were flatsharing at the time), etc etc. (luckily our parents were more than willing to take up some of the financial slack, wedding budget-wise)

    at the time we thought that was the right decision, but then we REALLY started to regret it.
    months would go by, and they wedding never seemed to get any closer. and god damnit, we just wanted to be married.

    so we talked about it, and we decided to get married before we get married, so to speak. when we go back in the states in sept for a visa renewal, we are going to have a small civil ceremony with immediate family. and then we will have the larger wedding with extended family and friends (all of whom are extremely important to us) as planned next sept. our already set plans couldn’t be re-arranged to suit what we wanted/needed, so we made new ones.

    go with your gut feeling here.

    never ignore the gut feeling.

    plan your future around the one constant you are certain of, your boyfriend, and the rest will fall into place.
    that has been our approach, anyways.

    so screw everybody else.
    if you’re ready to get married, get freakin married.

    anyway you can.
    even (especially?) if it’s just a small city hall wedding.
    hell, we even considered eloping.

    if you feel you can’t do the large typical expected wedding just yet, do something else.

    do whatever feels right.

    and good luck!!!

  • Oh my god, it’s a good thing it’s not me writing this blog, cause my immediate response was nowhere near so measured and articulate. More like JUST FUCKING DO IT NOW. And seriously, that response is for life, not just for wedding planning. We only have *today*, and you can while your life away making as many wonderfully smart and responsible plans as you like, only for fate to come and kick you in the teeth and blow them away in. an. instant.

    I may have kicked myself in the back of the head and made such a decision myself, recently. I may be somewhat regretting all the time I spent waiting for things to be ‘right’. Guess what? They still aren’t, and it’s very likely they never will be! So don’t be a fool like me, is all I’m saying.

    • meg

      Yeah. I forgot to say that. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the fact that we really don’t know how much time you have (marriage seems to make you very aware or mortality). We can’t afford to waste today, when we don’t know how much time we’ll be given.

      • Lisa

        “Marriage makes you very aware of mortality”

        Oh my god, I know. I know! Seriously, lately any time a movie or book features a spouse dying I automatically well up. But since getting married (just over a month ago now) my philosophy has just been: The time is now! Love everyone as best you can, don’t feel bad about not doing things you don’t want to do, have as much fun as is humanly possible, and realize that the whole point of mistakes is to learn something from them. It’s not perfect, but there’s no point in waiting to live.

      • Morgan

        Tell me about it! Marriage and death are pretty firmly intertwined for me. Being with David and getting married pretty much forced me to look hard at my life, and I just took a major career step. He made me brave enough, and getting married really drove home how short life could be. If I’m almost halfway through my life (if I was to die at the same age as my father)? Then I couldn’t do that job any longer.

      • liz

        i watched some special on cancer last night, and called josh, blubbering about what would we do if i only had one week to live.

        the only thing i could legitimately picture was a week of laying in bed next to him.

        (i feel justified in blaming my rollercoaster hormones.)

    • “…for life, not just for wedding planning”

      YES. (That is why I <3 you.) (And for our common ailments.)

  • And seriously, Meg. YOU ARE IN MY HEAD. You must be. Else where do these perfectly attuned to my state of mind posts keep coming from? It’s starting to freak me out a little. But gee whiz, I sure do love you for it.

  • Yes Meg!!! THANK YOU! I really really never understood the ‘wait until everything is perfect’ route. Because life is never perfect. Things never go as planned. And as they say in When Harry Met Sally: “When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” (or something like that…) :)

    Case in point about things never going as planned or being perfect:
    Everything was *great* job-wise for us when my husband and I got married. Then – BOOM! – 6 months post-wedding he was laid off and I’ve been supporting us for nearly the last year. Has it been easy? No. Would I take it back and not get married? Absolutely not! It’s been tough at times, but it’s also been amazing. I’ve gotten to spend more quality time with my husband than I did when he was working like a maniac and that rocks. We deal with the money issue. It’s taught us to be smart about things and to find our own fun rather than go out and spend mad money to have *fun.*

    Anyways, like you said – there is no ‘perfect’ time. And going through these things, good & bad, together as a married couple is an amazing thing. This whole post made me think of something that I want to share with everybody. My grandparents (who were madly in love and oh-so-happy together for 50-some years) had a little plaque that hung on their bedroom wall. When my Grandma passed away I was lucky enough to get to keep. It was from a couple’s retreat they had gone on for church many, many, many years ago. I thought it was beautiful and actually used this poem on our wedding programs to honor my grandparent’s memory & because it is soooo true (and fits today’s theme very well, I believe):

    What greater thing is there
    for two human souls
    than to feel that they are
    joined for life.

    To strengthen each other in all labor,
    to rest on each other in all sorrow,
    to minister to each other in all pain,
    and to be with each other in
    silent unspeakable memories.

    • Rizubunny

      Oh wow. Can I use this? Pretty please? (I kind of want to cross-stitch it on a pillow – is that weird?)

      • Use away! Sadly, I don’t have a source for the quote – other than the plaque… which only has the dates of the couples retreat (Feb. 26, 27, 28, 1982).

        But absolutely! Take it and do what you will with it! ;)

        • Sooz

          It’s a George Eliot quote “To Be One With Each Other”


  • Oh dear, links to all of the weddings that make me cry at work, right there on one 5 inch section of page.

    Cannot wait to revisit them!

    And miss Rowena, you listen to Meg now, y’hear?

  • Meg, once again, you have beautifully articulated exactly how I have felt for the past 2 years. So many of our friends have used their jobs, their money situations or their general place in life as a reason not to get married. And while I understand the traditional desire for stability, or the desire to save up for a $1800 ring and a $30,000 wedding, the whole idea of waiting for a better money situation never made sense to me. A marriage shouldn’t wait for the perfect ring or the perfect wedding, it should wait for the perfect partner and when you find that, I say, tie yourself together as soon as you can. I wanted to be married to my husband even though we knew we’d be on the poor side for a while. We lived together in this situation and we were both ready to move on to the next step. People always say they aren’t in a good money situation, as if that’s a reason to wait, but for us, we wanted to be together regardless of what was to come. In fact, we wanted to be married because we knew the future would be rough and our marriage would help strengthen our relationship so we could better support one another during those hard time.

    We couldn’t afford a huge wedding since I’m still in school and my husband’s job isn’t exactly a career right now, but we knew we wanted to be married and we made that happen. For us, we were lucky because our parents were generous and the venue was provided by my grandparents, but even if we’d had to get married in a courthouse or had a cheap elopement, we would be married now. We didn’t need a big wedding, heck, we didn’t need a wedding at all, we needed a marriage. And regardless of the economy or one’s personal money situation, a marriage is easy to create once you find the right partner because all you really need is to vocally make that commitment and get a license. The proof is in the pudding of Meg’s featured weddings… marriages can be made despite money (or the lack there of).

    • Rowenna

      I tried to get across in my question that this has nothing to do with money, or really even the economy. I agree that you shouldn’t wait to get married just because of money, and we will have the same low-key, low-cost church wedding whether we get married now or much later, whether we have no money or lots. The question for me is, if the relationship will go on the same before and after the wedding, living apart, not knowing when/if we’ll be able to live together (perhaps having to move quite far away), is there a compelling reason to get married now versus later? Obviously, we want to be married. But I’m worried I’m being impatient for something that won’t really change our day-to-day lives….

      • meg

        But my answer wasn’t about money. Go read it again. The wedding inspiration was for everyone else grappling with this, not necessarily for you.

      • liz

        throw caution to the wind. quit a job. drop out of grad school. or, make the long-ass commute (i commuted an hour and a half to grad school for 2 years). simultaneously, josh lived an hour away, and worked two hours away. meaning he would sometimes drive 2 hours to see me.

        if it was a choice between a convenient, short trip to school, and being with josh- josh would win.

      • Erin

        Hi Rowenna,
        Nope, it’s not always just that easy to pick up and move, changing jobs isn’t always an option, and quitting one job to be supported by your partner isn’t always the best choice either.

        But your basic question, “I’m worried I’m being impatient for something that won’t really change our day-to-day lives….” I think we can answer.

        If you read the wedding graduate posts, especially Meg’s reflections on her own wedding, you’ll see a common thread: being married, promising that no matter what happens, your future is tied to your partner’s and knowing that they promise you the same, changes you emotionally and spiritually. It’s another whole layer of your identity that you didn’t have before, and it’s a powerful new thing to explore together. If that doesn’t change the day-to-day, I don’t know what would.

        It won’t change the weekend back-and-forthing, or the hours-long nightly conversations. But it also doesn’t really change doing laundry and dealing with hairballs in bathtubs for people who have been living together for years. It changes YOU and your partner from the inside.

        A lot of us are sharing grandparents’ stories, and we all ooooh and awwwwww about how adorable and wise and strong these couples are. Many of our grandparents were married in the middle of a war, waiting for one spouse to be deployed, waiting sometimes years before they could be together. Many of our friends today are doing the same thing. They lived apart, carried on their separate lives from a distance, but were linked together by their marriages. It’s no more or less imprudent than what you’re contemplating. The point is that these couples weighed their commitment to each other against the binding power of the wedding vows, and chose to tie their futures together, no matter what.

        That’s really what it’s about, and if that’s where your relationship is, then go for it. It will change you, immediately, even though you’re living with roommates instead of your husband, and in the future — because somewhere/sometime, there will be a point where you get to choose to live together. And if you want to commit to the hope/expectation of that someday, and let your relationship be transformed in anticipation of it, then what do you have to lose?

        • liz

          “Nope, it’s not always just that easy to pick up and move, changing jobs isn’t always an option, and quitting one job to be supported by your partner isn’t always the best choice either.”

          but from the comments, i think we can see that people have done it. and survived. and been better for it- perhaps a little broke and a little nervous. but better just the same.

          • Erin

            Oh, definitely. I did it! And I know that for me, being with my husband is much better than otherwise. I figured everyone else had said that part already :)

        • Vanessa

          Erin I want to “EXACTLY!” you like 10 times. because. exactly girlfriend.

          • Alee

            “It will change you, immediately, even though you’re living with roommates instead of your husband, and in the future — because somewhere/sometime, there will be a point where you get to choose to live together. And if you want to commit to the hope/expectation of that someday, and let your relationship be transformed in anticipation of it, then what do you have to lose?”

            I am in awe of people who can get married on this hope. I think that faith and hope are wonderful and necessary, but that they work best when paired with a healthy dose of practicality. I am absolutely not saying that one choice is more right than the other, but, as for me, I could not get married knowing that the choice to be together was deferred to the undetermined future. I know lots of people are married and live apart, but this is only a good choice if it’s something you’re comfortable with. If you’re not comfortable with a marriage that includes living apart, I don’t think it’s the best way to start that marriage. In my own experience, when you reach the point where you want to get married, you need to take a good look at why you’re living apart and what obstacles can be overcome to get you living together – if not immediately, then within the shortest time possible. If you can’t figure out an endpoint to being physically apart, you won’t be happy whether you’re married or not.

            I think that, along with the hope for the future, we have to acknowledge the very real fear that, once the wedding is over, the solution to living together will still not be in sight. If being together is part of your personal definition of marriage, finding the solution first, difficult as it may be, can give you a lot more to hope for.

      • Whether it’s about money or where we live or how many hours we are from our partners… none of us really know what happens after we say “I Do.” Will we lose our jobs? Will one of us become sick? Will we lose our home? Will we become famous and get that dream car we’ve wanted since we were 12? Ahem…

        I think the fun part about marriage is that you take a risk together- financially, emotionally, prepared, haphazardly. You grab hands and dive/jump/sink/swim together. Miles apart or right next to each other you commit to doing it all together.

        Seriously, Rowena. Go get married. It may not change things logistically, but I believe marriage does change your life.

        • WTH seriously. I don’t even know you. Just reread this and I sound like a snob. Do what you feel is best for yourself, but if you want to get married go for it. Don’t let something like distance or not living together hold you back since it’s not holding you back from being together now.

          • liz

            hahahaa, angie, this made me laugh. i feel like we’re all, “GO GET MARRIED ALREADY, DUMMY.” when what we really mean is, “marriage is awesome! if you want to do it, do it!”

            silly interwebs.

      • I’m going to (sort of) disagree with the commenters below (though I think they make some awesome points).

        I’ve been with my now-husband for 5 years. And while I LOVE being married, I don’t feel like marriage has changed anything about our relationship. Not inwardly, not outwardly. Nothing. And I feel just exactly as committed to my husband as I did when he was my boyfriend and vice versa.

        (the only thing that has changed is society’s view of our relationship, which alternately amuses and annoys me).

        I didn’t want to try and get married while I was in grad school. I knew it would be too much stress. And really, what was the rush? We had previously contemplated never getting married, just living together. What finally prompted is us was me graduating and needing insurance. I know that sounds unromantic, but the romantic reasons that make us want to be together until we’re 100+ yrs old were the same, marriage license or no.

        So I would ask you this: what do you mean by being “ready” for marriage? If you don’t feel that it will change your day-to-day lives, what makes you want to get married right now? Explore those reasons… maybe the timing is good, maybe you need insurance.

        But I’m VERY glad we didn’t try to get married when our friends and relatives said it was “right” (about 2 years before we actually got married).

        However, if you do end up getting married, why does that negate the idea of long distance? I mean, yeah, it would suck–we were 6 hrs. apart for 8 months.–but I think it tends to suck as much when you’re married as it does when you’re not married.

  • agreed agreed agreed! being “logical” can only take you so far, and then like meg so elegantly put it you have to just realize that there’s no “perfect time”.

    initially i was all – i can’t get engaged until i’m working full time AND have moved out of my parents house and am living in an apartment like a Big Girl b/c otherwise i won’t feel grown up and the engagement won’t feel real.


    so when i get married in october i’ll have been engaged for 18 months (i also wanted a short engagement…. ha), and have lived at my parents house the whole time, and my fiance also has lived at home with HIS parents whiel he finishes law school, and is almost an hour away. but whatever.

    and then when we get married, he’ll be working in nyc, and i’ll be working in central nj, and we’ll both be at least a 45 minute commute from our jobs. but who cares.

    he’s only an hour away. get married and live in the middle.

    good luck!

  • Seriously, let me answer all of these with f*ck the economy, get married if you want to. Have a small ceremony with not a lot of people. If things pick up, throw a huge 1 year anniversary party.

    • andthebeautyis

      Seriously, a tiny, cheap-ass wedding is such a good option. My boy & I are having a beautiful full-scale wedding that is right for us for many reasons. But when I look at those living room/backyard/city-hall-&-a-restaurant weddings, I have a little pang of envy for the simplicity, the focus on what’s important.
      So, (I get that money isn’t Rowenna’s problem, but) for those who are only waiting until there’s enough money, stop waiting & enjoy the simplicity.

      • Rowenna

        I’m really sorry! I don’t mean to make this all about me, I know that other people have similar kinds of concerns that aren’t identical to mine, and Meg in all her amazingness was trying to do more than just address my fears. I love her ability to universalize an issue!

    • Margaret

      OR invite a ton of people and have a morning wedding with a cake and punch reception. Cheap doesn’t have to equal small. You can do it.

  • liz

    we were both unemployed for the duration of our engagement. painfully, bitterly, unemployed. people everywhere asked why we weren’t waiting for money before marrying.

    um. because we love each other?

    “how can you plan a future when you have no idea where your future is going?”
    this is where i disagree with the common idea that not knowing what comes next is SCARY. its not. it’s FREEING. i started a new life with someone, with absolutely no commitments, no attachments to a career- we could pick where we wanted to live, what we wanted to do… TOGETHER. such freedom!

    not to mention, who better to have beside you during a rough economic time than your SPOUSE?

  • Rachel

    hear hear hear hear hear! To everyone.
    So true – love and joy don’t cost anything! Get married because you want to get married not because you’re ‘in a good place’ financially or whatever. My fiance and I are both waist-deep in school with the end far far down the road and we’re getting married next year mid-semester because well, that’s when it’s happening! As it is I don’t want to wait that long but I’m so glad we didn’t plan to wait until we graduated or something because God knows when that will happen.

    GO for it!!!

  • Laura

    I’m with Meg, if you’re emotionally ready, then do it! And move somewhere in between your school and his job. Maybe it’s just the NYer in me, but an hour commute seems like nothing. I know people who’s commute is twice that long! It can be done. It’s just an adjustment. :-)

    • Rowenna

      People keep commenting that we just move halfway between… but it’s not that easy! Moving even halfway between where we live now would add hours and lots of horrible traffic to both of our commutes. Plus, I am living with roommates pretty cheaply within walking distance of my school, and he lives with his parents, and carpools to his temp job with his dad. Plus, we’d never be able to afford a place in the much more affluent area between us! A commenter below said they were just “hoping that everything would work out” so that one could work while the other pursues school, and that one would have health insurance for the other, etc. Neither of us have jobs that could support the other! Neither of us have health insurance that could cover the other! I just don’t know what to do.

      • liz

        we didn’t have health insurance for over a year. i know, i know. there are some people with chronic illnesses for whom this wouldn’t work. but it’s kind of a… faith, thing, i guess. i trusted that we would find a way- i trusted that the people around us would pitch in, if necessary.

        i waited until i finished grad school to get married. but if you have a lot of time left, that may not be an option. (i finished at 22)

        i think practically speaking, it’s a matter of sitting down and outlining the options. he can quit his job. or you can find a different grad school. or take a break from school. decide where you want to live long-term, and start thinking about what changes need to be made to get you both there.

        • I’ll definitely get married while still in grad school, but that’s because I have taken time off between and we’ve both done some moving around and risky business ventures that have paid off at various rates, and we intend to keep doing that. It’s about when it’s right for us, not everyone else. Although we’re still trying to figure out how that will look, because I want a big party with every friend and family member there. But that’ll have to wait. :) And boy will we look forward to that, and also to not having to wait to be married! (Mawwiage…that dweam wiffin a dweam…)

      • Laura

        Ah, now I see. OK, allow me to channel my mom for a second and suggest that you make a list. This is her #1 advice for every dilemma and it always works. Two columns about getting married: pro and con. Write it all down. All of it, even if it seems silly or inconsequential. Really think it over. Then put the list down and walk away for a few days. Think about something else for a while. Pick it back up one morning with a nice clear head and I can almost guarantee that the answer will be clear.
        Sounds trite but trust me, this shit works. :-)

      • meg

        My dear – YOU WILL WORK IT OUT. Marriage will make you do it. This is the new reality – sacrificing, scrimping, figuring things out. I don’t think it’s going to change any time soon. If you’re ready to get married, DO IT. If you’re not quite, wait a bit. But don’t wait for effing health insurance or a job.

      • meg

        Here is another way to think about it – right now you want to work things out. When you get married you will NEED to work things out, even if that takes some time, Plus you’ll have your whole community at your back wanting to help. Getting married is a little like a barn raising – everyone wants to pitch in and help the couple get started. So, if you decide you’re ready to get married (Are you? That part should be simple.) then announce you’re engaged. Things will start falling into place, slowly, slowly. Or you’ll decide you can live with the way things are for a little longer (you’re living with them now anyway, it’s not like they are going to get any worse).

      • ElfPuddle

        Y’know how everyone keep saying “screw what everybody says”? That goes for us sometimes too. We don’t know everything you know about the situation. Those of us who give advice do so from their very big hearts, very wise ideas, and very varied experiences. If it doesn’t seem right for you, then you should not do it.

        If I’m reading you correctly, The problem is not the money for the wedding or the living arrangement. The biggest fear is that by getting married and living separately, you don’t feel married. Yes?

        If I’m reading everyone else correctly, there are a ton of ways to make the money or living situation better, but there is no worry about not feeling married. It’s an internal change, and it will be there. (I’m a wedding undergrad, so I can only guess they’re right.)

        Sounds like you have nothing to worry about, Rowena. Relax, and let your love for each other fix the fear.

        • Rowenna

          Okay, this is the one I want to say “exactly!” to! I also hear about that intangible change that happens when you actually get married, and I’m terrified that it just won’t happen if he still lives in his parents house and I still live with my roommates, and everything is still the same.

          I also feel like, there’s no logical reason not to wait. It makes so much more sense to just wait a year or so… but I just don’t want to! I’ve feel like I’ve been waiting so long!

          • liz

            the change will probably happen.

            but i know i sure as hell wouldn’t want to live away from him.

          • liz

            …but what elfpuddle says is true. that’s me speaking for me.

      • Meredith

        mmm… I see what you mean now. While there is never a perfect time to get married., there are certainly ‘better’ times than others. With the details you’ve provided in the comments section that are left out of the original post, I think it’s easier to understand what you are talking about. While it’s lovely to say “Oh just get married already! You know you want to be together, just do it!”, practically, it’s much more difficult. Especially when he is living with his parents and you are sharing an apartment in 2 different places. You can’t supoort each other, you can’t use each other’s health insurance or live together; many of the “perks” of marriage you won’t be able to take advantage of. I can completely understand why this isn’t the ‘right time’; and that you aren’t looking for the perfect time, but simply a ‘better’ time.

        I agree with Liz, who said you need a plan. Plan out what you want, where you want to live and how you are going to get there. It seems you are really stuck on the living together part of marriage. Given everything in both your lives right now, if you could live together right after you got married, would you hesitate this much? From what you’ve written, it seems like you wouldn’t. So, #1 goal should be to figure out a way to live together. If that means a temp job in a different city, then so be it. Make a plan and TAKE ACTION!

        • Rowenna

          Yes, I think if we could live together there would be exponentially less drama with this decision. And we have made that plan, where we can live together and it starts in about a year or so. We’ve decided that me dropping out of grad school a year before I finish to go and live with him at his parents house is not an option, (at least, it’s not better than the current situation!) so the soonest we can move in together will be when I finish, next summer. And it seems logical to wait until then to get married. I think we’ll be fine if we wait until then. But part of me just wants to go ahead and get married now. I don’t think it’s bad to listen to logic and what works with the rest of life, but I also agree with Meg and so many of these commenters that sometimes you just need to follow your heart and just do it. So I’m still stuck.

          • Arachna

            But what’s the logical reason to wait? I don’t get it.

            How does you not being married for that year making your lives better or easier?

            Is the logic that married people usually live together so it’ll be easier for the community to see you living apart as non married individuals? That’s the only thing I can possibly think of – and in that case that’s giving a huuuge weight to what people around you think of you – and they probably only think of you for five minutes at a time before they go on to living their own lives.

            I’m not trying to be harsh, honestly, I just hear this purported “logic” all the time and I do. not. understand. and as someone who sets great great! stock by logic it peeves me to see people claiming something is logical which IMO is not.

            If you are committed to this man and ready to promise in front of everyone and the law that you are – logically you practically married and will behave the same as if you are married.

            And yes I do think you can feel very married even living apart.

          • Eliza

            Are you someone who wants a quick, speedy, do-it-now type wedding? Or are you a planner, someone who wants to invest some time and thought in putting together a wedding? Because if you’re the latter, you may find that getting engaged is a step that helps you put together the plans, not only for your wedding but for your future life together, and gives you a lot of structural help. I guess what I’m trying to say here is, the engagement can be a step in itself that can help you answer some of these questions. And also it can quell the “I WANT TO GET MARRIED NOW NOW NOW” feeling in you! Feeling like you’re making an actual step towards it – even if it’s just announcing to friends and family that “hey, we’re doing this!!” – can really help with that “argh life is so complicated and it’s never going to happen” feeling.

            (Also, yes, you don’t know right now who will have a steady, reliable job in a year’s time – but maybe the first year of your marriage won’t be about steady reliable jobs, it’ll be about working somewhere random to make some money to get from day to day and support each other. That happens sometimes – happened to my brother in his first year of marriage this year, and they’re having a GREAT year.)

      • andthebeautyis

        Rowenna, I wish you the very best, and I think you will find it. You choose what’s right for you. But if living separately is making your life hell, maybe this will help you prioritize:
        In my experience, neither being insurance-less (as I’ve been for 5 years) nor spending most of my income on rent nor having a long commute can compete with the glee that is the sound of my honey’s key in the door, the dazzle of his morning smile, or the peace of his heartbeat at night.

      • elyse

        rowenna – i’m 100% all for marriage when you know you’re with the right person. that said, my husband and i probably knew about 1 year in that we’d get married. but we waited 3 more years for him to finish med school. it was frustrating as hell sometimes. people all around us were getting married, happy as clams. our families supported our relationship and money wasn’t an issue for us either. we were in the same city, but didn’t live together and there were months-long stretches when we wouldn’t see each other (business travel for me + out of town med school rotations for him). being married when i was on a working-person’s schedule and he was a student wouldn’t have worked for us. also for us, getting married meant finally living together, and it’s amazing (7 weeks and counting!) i don’t think we would have gotten married when we did if it meant NOT living together. and if that’s going to be an issue for you, and cause more stress, then maybe waiting is better.

        as for getting engaged – we talked about it for a long time, and more important, we talked about our future together ALL the time. but we didn’t actually get engaged until we knew we were ready to start planning (10 months before the wedding worked for us). something about going from not engaged to engaged makes others take your relationship more seriously, and that can be frustrating too. You refer to your boyfriend and people go. . . oh, uhuh. You say fiance, and people take you seriously. at least that was my experience. and it’s ANNOYING as HELL! but. . . not a reason to get married.

        so i guess what i’m saying is. . .i’m all for not waiting for the “perfect” time because you never know what is coming and there never will be a perfect time. but there will be a “right” time, and you just need to figure out what that means for both of you.

    • So, clearly I’m in the minority here, but I’m a big fan of having your ducks in a row. Seriously. I mean, I get that nothing’s ever going to perfect and that if you sit around waiting for the “perfect” moment to do anything you’re probably going to waste a lot of time. And of course there’s always going to be a ton of uncertainty involved in any major life decision.


      No health insurance? No job security? No [viable] way to live together? It gives me pause. That’s not to say you shouldn’t get married. Maybe it is absolutely the right decision; maybe everything will fall into place. I don’t know. But first I’d sit down and seriously think about whether you want to make the enormous life adjustments folks here are suggesting (dropping out of school or transferring, moving [even if it makes your commute hellish], etc.). Because those are Big Deal kind of adjustments. And not wanting to make them is *okay.* I think that feeling extreme inner resistance to these sorts of shifts could possibly be an indication that marriage isn’t the right move at this very moment.

      Or maybe I’m just a big wimp. I don’t like throwing caution to the wind.

      • liz

        this is the key for me: “I think that feeling extreme inner resistance to these sorts of shifts could possibly be an indication that marriage isn’t the right move at this very moment.”

        i waited until after i was done grad school. not a very long wait. but we both look back and discuss that the very fact that we placed those parameters, demonstrates that we weren’t ready. we were in love- we wanted to get married. but we weren’t ready.

        because if i was in grad school right now, there’s no way it would hold me back. i’d switch schools. or put it on hold. no question.

        • meg

          Exactly. From what I’ve heard in the comments, it doesn’t sound like now is the time. From what I heard in the email, well, f*ck it. Do it. But when you’re READY to get married? When you’re really ready? Not a whole lot is going to stop you from doing it.

          We were not ready when we were young and broke. No way.

          We were ready when I quit my job and moved across country with no job waiting for him to go to grad school…. and no hesitation on my part. Because OF COURSE I was going to quit and move. Then you know.

  • I agree with Meg and all the folks in the comments. We were both employed at places where we didn’t want to be, but we saved a little portion of each of our paychecks every month for 9 months to pay for our modest (read: “budget”) wedding. I think we are stronger married, to pursue each of our dreams, than if we were still single, both in our minds and in the eyes of the government. This way, he was able to quit his crappy job to go back to school for something he is passionate about, while I carry on with the income and cover him for health insurance through my job; when he finds a new job and gets insurance for both of us (hopefully in early 2011!), I can quit my job and pursue what I want full-time. Hopefully all will go according to plan.

    • Elissa – I’m telling you, we are living duplicate lives! :)

      • Then we definitely need to become friends and commisserate together!

        • and by commisserate I meant commiserate
          and by commiserate I meant about the one-income part… but we could be happy talking and relating about other things! I submitted my reply too quickly. :(

          • haha! Yes! I get what you’re sayin’. :) haha We can all share budget living tips! :) (or just gripe every now and then when we’re freaking out) (DDAYPORTER – you too!)

            Also Elissa… we appear to be similar on the one income thing + the fact that you also apparently *love* photography! (I clicked on your name – yippee!) :) So I’m guessing the thing you’re going to do full-time when he gets his school/job thing taken care of is that…?? Me toooooo! :)

        • ddayporter

          I’m jumping on this commiseration train! this is my life too! :)

  • as usual, meg – well said. jake and i got engaged while we were living on the east coast, away from our families in minnesota. he’s a freelance writer and i was a legal aid attorney at the time – a month before the wedding, i quit my job and we moved back to minnesota with *absolutely no plan* other than that we wanted to get married and have a great time being young, in love, and married — no matter what came our way. it was beautiful and freeing, and it all worked out for the best – although i must say that even if i hadn’t gotten a job relatively quickly just as the economy was taking a turn for the worse (and i AM grateful for that), i would have rather faced a period of unemployment with him by my side as my husband, than have continued to wait until i was more “stable” to tie the knot. so yes — eff the recession / economy. if you know in your heart that you want to be married, get married now!!

  • Is there a way to Exactly!* the original post?

  • Rowenna, as long as you both are emotionally ready for marriage, I would say do it sooner rather than later. Life is hard to predict, and the uncertainties are better when shared. :) Before we got married, we had about 20ish months of long distance between two countries. Then I moved to his country and we were married 6 weeks later. We had been planning the wedding for about 4 months (yay, for short engagements!), and knew that the first 9 months of our marriage would be with me having an apartment in one city and him having an apartment in another city 3 hours away (due to our work). We went back back and forth between the two cities during that time and were able to be together a lot, thankfully, but it wasn’t exactly what I had envisioned as the beginning situation of our marriage. Now, nine months into the marriage, that phase is over and we just moved to the same city and have our first truly joint apartment (YAY!). It feels wonderful to be together now, but I still am so thankful we went ahead and got married when we were ready despite the atypical situation and frequent commuting. Life is short and we didn’t want to postpone what we were ready for. :)

  • Alice

    I don’t think I can say it better than Meg, but even though I’m usually a lurker, I feel strongly about this so I want to emphasize that if you’re ready and he’s ready, forget the circumstances and just do it.

    Because as Meg said, marriage is “for better or for worse, richer or poorer” but not only that. The For Worse and For Poorer side of that equation is MUCH BETTER if you have a spouse by your side. There’s the knowledge that they will always be there, that you can look past the immediate problems of the present and know that at the end of it, you’ll still be together and you’ll be stronger having made it through the fire.

  • kyley

    Oh, this is perfect! You know how people respond to certain posts saying, “This is just what I needed! This made me cry!” Well, this post was just what I needed, and it made me cry.

    My BF and I have been together for 6.5 years, living together for half of that. We know we want to get married, and talk about it on a very regular basis. But I am going to grad school next year (for 7 years!) and BF leave for school the following year, most likely far away. I don’t want to spend the first few years of married life living very long distance! And this post doesn’t change that, but you’ve given me permission to want marriage, and the things–both good and bad–that come along with that. I don’t know how else to say it, but that’s what it is. Thank you, Meg and Team Practical, for the permission to want marriage.

    Does that make sense to anyone else out there? You are all really incredible.

  • Speaking as someone who has been there, done that (meaning my 40s are long behind me) and who attends many weddings due to my profession, there will NEVER be a perfect time for anything in your life. If I’d taken that approach, I’d still be hanging out waiting to marry the guy, have the children, buy the house, make the move, start the business–you get my drift.

    I’m not sure why you’re in two different states and I agree that marrying and then going back to your separate lives would be a bit of a letdown. So address that issue and then MAKE IT HAPPEN! You are making serious life decisions based on an attitude of fear rather than an attitude of love. If you don’t break this habit NOW it will follow you all of your life.

    And although you say differently, I get the sense you are quite concerned about what others will think of your decision. Again–an attitude of fear. Elope just the two of you, have a small family wedding or have 500 people at the country club, but make this happen. You deserve to be together emotionally, spiritually and legally.

    • Rowenna

      You agreed that it would be a letdown to return to our separate lives, and then said “so address that issue”. This is my problem! How do we address that issue??? For us, the only way to address it so far is to wait until we can think of a way to address it. Unless something changes (jobwise, etc) in our lives, then we don’t see it being addressed for another year or so at least.

      • meg

        But so what? You can’t live together yet. Fine. That’s not the issue. The issue is if you want to get married. It sounds to me like maybe you don’t yet… Like you’re not quite ready for worse befor better ( which is all we’re tking about). And that’s ok. Maybe you just discovered you DO want to wait till things improve, even if that takes awoke. So maybe that iss your answer and thi post is for someone else ( I wrote this bc I see this question a lot.)

        • meg

          iPhone :(

          • Ugg. I know on my phone whenever I try to “Exactly” I push the “report this comment button” and panic.

          • But Meghan, your phone also takes sweet pictures. At least it’s not a half-piece of crap Pink Chocolate that won’t let you dial any phone number with a 4 in it :(

            I’m jelly of your cool phones.

        • First, thanks for this post Meg. I totally agree. I’m also not sure that Rowena, you want to get married.
          I have two stories: My friends Joe and Michelle got married in CA and then three days later, Michelle moved to WA to go back to school without Joe who was working on starting a business. She lived without him for a year before he could join her in WA, but the point was that they were married. They were family and that was what they needed to support each other from afar.
          My husband and I have had our share of long distance too. It was before we were engaged, I left WA state to move to CA for two years for school. We decided to play our relationship by ear. But in that time, as hard as it was, we got closer. When I moved back and could be with him, things started to fall into place. Yes mine is a different situation, but we were no less tied together. And let me confirm that the ceremony will tie you together and keep you in that frame of mind that you are together. Our situation now that we’re married is complicated too, we have a roommate. It’s not ideal but it’s what we have now.
          If you are actually ready to get married, that inner change is what will make it different. That love will grow even from afar.

          • Lisa

            *HIGH FIVE* Married with a roommate! I am married with four roommates. I’m leaving my job to go back to school full time in like a month now, so it’s sort of necessary at the moment. You work with what you’ve got, and acknowledge that if you want something badly enough, it’s probably going to require giving something else up. The question is if it’s worth the trade. In our case, YES of COURSE school is worth roommates! We still feel pretty married though. I’d echo everyone in saying that that different, intangible feeling you get when you’re married comes from that layer of security. Dude’s got my back, and vice versa, in a much more solid and tangible way now. It means a lot. A LOT!!

  • Jessie

    Thank you for this post, Meg. I got so tingly all over because it’s crazy how similar my situation is. I wish I could’ve been this eloquent when I emailed you a few months ago!

    Just know that I’m totally right there with you, Rowenna. Ready and waiting. And nothing is certain, except that I want to build a life with the person I love. That is something we know, and something we can control.

  • Arachna

    Thank you, thank you, yes!!

    It drives me crazy when people talk about waiting for a proposal etc. because of financial goal posts – is marriage about a certain lifestyle ? Is it about being in a certain economic class? I always thought marriage what just about promising that this is your partner! What do finances have to do with it? I was beginning to think I was the only one who thought that way – since everyone seemed to think it was reasonable and responsible to wait till… graduation/work/whatever.

  • Alee

    I’ve been reading APW for a few months now, and I had to finally comment to respond to Rowenna. I was/am in a similar situation: in graduate school (my boyfriend too, a long drive away), we had been together for a very long time, and had gone through lots of long distance as well as short periods of living together. We were both thinking of getting married, but decided to wait. Here’s why:

    If all goes well, I’ll be a lifelong academic, and all the time I hear about people who, newly married, accept jobs hours away from their spouse with the hopes that, three years later, the spouse will be able to join them. This sort of thing is not for me. I want the job and the relationship, but if I have to choose I’m going to pick the relationship and figure out the career afterwards. For me, the graduate degree is to be the last time I put my relationship on hold to do something else – if I value this relationship, and I do (!), at some point it has to be my first choice.

    In the year since getting married first came up as a real possibility, we’ve made some good choices. He’s finished his coursework and moved to where I am (note: this is a real pain, not an easy move! I’m across a border and he has no visa, so we spend semesters at my/our place and summers/breaks in our home country), I’ve figured out plans A, B, and C for how I can move back home once my coursework is finished (this will likely entail some creative ways of getting funding, or, at worst, us sharing funding and being totally broke for a year). We now have plans, not totally stable plans, but at least the conviction, that we can work out being together for the next few years while we finish our degrees. After that, we’ve agreed to be flexible with job searches. We’re thrifty and creative, and can live on one salary if we have to.

    If you want being married to mean living together, you can take some time to figure out what this means for you as a couple. It might mean some logistical discomfort for now, it might mean being broke. You get to decide how and whether this happens. I’m glad I waited. We still have a lot of uncertainty in our futures, but we know we can count on being together, at least. We know that we chose each other. I’m not engaged yet, but now I’m ready for it (and when it happens, we will not have a long engagement!). Good luck to you!

    • Meredith

      “For me, the graduate degree is to be the last time I put my relationship on hold to do something else – if I value this relationship, and I do (!), at some point it has to be my first choice.”

      YES YES YES!!! x (a gajillion)

      • I just said almost the exact same thing to my sister the other day. This is never where I thought I’d be, mentally and emotionally, but I’m SO happy to be in this place!

        But sometimes I do feel a little guily, like a “bad” feminist, because I’m so willing to dump my career aspirations (which I’m not 100% thrilled with anyway, so it makes it easy to consider dumping them) to prioritize our relationship. Anyone else ever feel this way? My career just doesn’t matter to me like it used to and I wouldn’t be willing to live away from him to maintain it.

        • andthebeautyis

          Yes, I do feel that way sometimes! And being in a constantly competitive field, prioritizing anything else feels like a cop-out. BUT I am a believer in the wisdom of the Ages, and every old person ever interviewed has said, “Love is what counts.” Shortly followed by “Have no regrets,” and “Follow your dreams.” Those can sometimes be in conflict with each other, but I think the regretlessness is key. Love should motivate you, so I fall back on love first. : )
          I also want to say that (perhaps because feminine brain is more likely to see the big picture) women often get the short end of the stick on this. So before anybody drops out or quits, at least have a serious conversation about what it would be like if HE did it instead.

        • Merideth

          Oh god, I’ve come to a similar conclusion, and I also sometimes feel like a “bad” feminist. Though then I remember my mom did not work outside the home and she’s the one who taught me to be a feminist.

    • Rowenna

      I really appreciate seeing people who have made BOTH choices – some who have gotten married right away anyway, and some who have waited. I think I just need to know that even though (either way) it will be hard, that no matter which way we choose, it’ll be okay. We love each other, we definitely do want to get married. Whether we do it in a few months or another year or two, it will happen.

      • meg

        We waited for five years, so obviously I’m pro taking the slow way. But when we were ready to tie the knot, we didn’t wait, to he’ll with grad school and jobs. From your comments, what I’m hearing is “I know I want tomarry this guy, but I’m not ready yet.” If I’d gotten that from your email, I would have said “wait! There is no rush.” What your email said was different though. It was “I’m ready now, but job situations and living situations suck.” Hence the post.

        So wait I’m saying is, you have to figure ou if you are ready now. If you are, don’t let life hold you back. If you’re not….. Girlfriend, WAIT!!!!!!

      • McPants

        Could I chime in on the possibility of a long engagement? It seems like a good compromise between waiting indefinitely and NOWOMGDOITNOW. A *lot* can change in a year or more. You can just be engaged for a while without having to be “wedding planning”. While we haven’t had the living apart piece to deal with, our whole universe has changed since we got engaged in November. We planned on a May 2011 wedding (instead of the September 2010 date I wanted) b/c we thought we’d be buying a house this year (woo tax credit!) and didn’t want to cram so much stress into such a short time frame. Sensible, no?

        Then in January I had medical issues, in February we lost my grandfather, in March I lost my job, which meant losing our dream of home ownership (for now), and then we had to plan a super-stressful move since we weren’t able to stay where we were living. Oh, and I’m writing my master’s thesis. We’ve probably fought more since we’ve been engaged than during the other 3.5 years of our relationship (not that we fight all the time, we just rarely fought before.) and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. We’ve come to know each other in totally new ways during this trial by fire, and our relationship is stronger for it.

        You could argue that we could have gone through all this in our first year of marriage, and it still would have made us stronger, and that’s probably true. But for me anyway, there’s the fact that we’re not set in stone yet, we could still back out, and we keep choosing this, choosing each other, choosing our future together. We haven’t promised to better or worse it yet, but in all this madness, as hard as it is, we’re not bowing out. And there’s magic in that for me.

        I kinda wrote you a novel there, but my point is you have to work out what’s right for you right now. If you’re at the point where you know you are rock-solid ready to choose this person through everything that comes up, then get yourselves on over to a courthouse and deal with the distance drama as it comes. However, if you can see that place but haven’t quite gotten there yet, there’s a reason engagement exists, and it’s not just to give you time to rent a hall and hire a band. It’s time to come to terms with the choice you’re making, shift your worldview and plan what your marriage is going to look like. If it takes you a couple years to do that, rock on. Put a ring (or a string, or a ring-pop) on it, and take the time you need.

        • ElfPuddle

          “there’s a reason engagement exists”.
          Yes. And some of us really need that. Although, since a lot of people see engagement as only “wedding planning time”, it can be awkward at times. Oh hell can it be awkward. It’s still worth it, though. Very much worth it.

      • Only you and your boyfriend can make it be okay. We can reassure you until we all turn blue, but marriage is hard work no matter what the situation. If you are both ready to work hard to stay together, then do it, now or later. You keep insisting that you’ll be together in a year when your situations have changed and you can be together, so what’s really stopping you from doing what you want to do? Maybe you get engaged and do the typical year long engagement and then, voila, things fall into place and you move in. To be honest, once you slap those rings on your fingers, your families, your friends, and your nearby strangers are going to everything in their power to help support your marriage (unless they are evil but we’re not talking about them).

    • “If all goes well, I’ll be a lifelong academic, and all the time I hear about people who, newly married, accept jobs hours away from their spouse with the hopes that, three years later, the spouse will be able to join them. This sort of thing is not for me. I want the job and the relationship, but if I have to choose I’m going to pick the relationship and figure out the career afterwards.”

      Alee, I am right there with you. I’m starting a PhD program at my dream school this fall, but what I wrote in a letter to J. when I visited the campus for Prospective Weekend back in March was something along the lines of: “This is no longer THE dream for me. It’s still A dream to be in academia and to have this career, and I am so grateful to you for supporting me in pursuing it. But you are now my dream. The primary drive of my life is now our relationship and the family we will build together, and if it comes down to choosing between you and the career, I will choose you every time.”

  • My fiance and I are getting married next August no matter what the economy or the world looks like, but we’re still working out what that will mean for our lives, especially in relation to the economy. I’m in grad school for economics, so (go figure) I’m a romantic and want to get married soon and have joint finances and become one family unit in every way. But that’s not totally fair of me because I’m earning significantly less than my future husband and I’m still increasing my student loan debt. He, on the other hand, is doing pretty well professionally – nothing crazy great, but he earns enough. But he is so panicked about money all the time. He can’t even comprehend why we would have joint finances and just become one financial unit as well as one legal family unit.

    I’m trying to figure out a good compromise based on what’s feasible, what’s comfortable, and what maximizes our joint household utility. At first I thought we could each contribute an equal proportion of our earnings to a joint account (like we each put in 50% of what we each make, and the combined total of our 50%s will cover our rent, bills, groceries, etc.). But after reading the 6/10/10 post on the one pot set-up, I can’t help but be swayed. And honestly, I can’t help but feel hurt that he isn’t inclined to trust me that much.

    I was hoping we’d have this figured out by this August/September so we could already have that giant hurdle over before we get married, but I need to figure out a good plan for us before I can start implementing anything. Anyone have any good ideas how my fiance and I can start to work this out together?

    • Morgan

      Talk about it with him. And then talk some more. Suggest various plans. Tell him how you feel. Talk more. It won’t be an easy series of talks, but it’s really rather important. It doesn’t even really matter WHAT plan you guys work out (ie, my plan is great for me but may not work for you), but you two have to figure it out together. With talking. :)

      • Marina

        I want to exactly this a zillion times. Because the thing is, a one pot system is about trust for you, but for him it’s about something else completely. For instance, my husband doesn’t want to do the one pot system not because he doesn’t trust ME, but because he doesn’t trust himself–he wants to know that he’s able to support himself without putting any burdens on me, before we fully merge our finances. Your partner might have completely different reasons. The only way you’ll find out what they are is by talking and talking and talking.

    • Kate, I admit, I was the one with financial cold feet before the wedding. And it didn’t really end until a couple of months after the wedding. We both make about the same amount so that wasn’t the problem. We had discussed, decided to merge our accounts but then, we didn’t really. I closed my separate checking/savings and we opened a joint checking/savings/credit. And then for whatever reason, G didn’t close his account. And yet I knew he had access to all of what I had and the records of what I had spent “our” money on, and I couldn’t see his. So, we decided on an allowance system. It seemed a little, I Love Lucy but, whatever works. Basically, the paychecks go into the joint account to pay for the rent, the food, the bills, dinner and entertainment out together, etc. Then we each take out a specific amount of money and put it in our own account – where we can spend on whatever we want. Truth be told, we basically have separate savings accounts because we never spend as much as our allowance is, and we still save money from the joint pool (cross your fingers that we can keep that going).
      The thing is, I didn’t feel entirely comfortable with him seeing what I spent at anthropologie and sephora, even though it isn’t nearly as much as he spends on bicycle gear. So we had to create our own safe places.
      You just have to talk it out to figure out what works best for you and you may not figure it out until AFTER you’re married.

      • Lisa

        Are you me? This is us, exactly. We have the same plan. And the same reasonings. He likes building computers. I like Anthro. We both buy books. Different checking accounts for different needs, and so far so good.

      • This is exactly what me and my (very) longterm sweetie do and we’ll continue doing it after we get married. I don’t want to be irked by his computer game purchases and I don’t need him tutting over how much I’ve spent on yarn or art supplies :-)

        Besides, when I was a teenager both my mother and my grandmother told me that a woman should always have her own bank account and I took that advice to heart.

    • meg

      Go back and read the APW money posts – lots of good stuff in those discussions. It’s hard stuff, but you know, part of marriage is supporting your spouse sometimes – emotionally and or financially. And, you know, paying of your husband’s student loan bills (achem)… but that’s just my personal opinion.

      It’s hard, but with lots of talking you’ll work it out. I’d REALLY recommend that you start talking now though. I think it’s pretty important to be more or less on the same page about finances and kids before you say your vows. Those are things you need to know you can tackle together. This would be a GREAT reason to do pre-marital counseling (which I cannot recommend strongly enough!)

  • Vanessa

    Ditto to this!! Everything Meg said is spot on. You get engaged/married when you’re ready to make that commitment and tie your life to another person. You have the “wedding” when you have money to spend on the celebration (however big or small you want that to be). In my opinion there’s no better time to get engaged than now because it just adds an extra layer of “ok yeah, we really are in this together and we will find a way to make it work out!” Go for it Rowenna!! I don’t know what you’re waiting for, maybe the storybook timeline of how everything is supposed to go?

  • ELW

    I’m usually a lurker, but as a “waiter” I felt strongly about putting in 2 cents about waiting. We are getting married in September. We will have dated for 5+ years and will have been engaged for 15 months. To many members of our families, our courtship has been really long — too long according to some. (Upon announcing our engagement, some people said that they were just glad that we had decided one way or the other. Like they would have been just as happy for us if we had decided to break up instead.)

    We waited for me to get through grad school and for him to get through the first few years of working LONG hours at his law firm. Then we waited to be in the same city, to both have jobs, to travel together, to have some time under our belts as a couple — we waited to be ready for this huge commitment we’ll be making in 9 (!!!) weeks. Were there times when I though we were waiting too long? Definitely yes. Did I get anxious the few months before we were engaged, wondering if we had done the right thing? YES! But am I happy about where we are now? Yes — Definitely Yes! I am so excited to have experienced my first 30 years of life single. I love that I’ve had all this time to grow and prepare myself to be the best person I can be upon entering into a marriage. I’ve had so many experiences that I wouldn’t have had if we had gotten married sooner.

    Rowenna — I think only you and your boyfriend can know what the right time is for you. I wholeheartedly agree with many commenters that there are many valid reasons for not waiting — carpe diem! — and that there are many invalid reasons for waiting — who really needs ice sculptures at their wedding?
    I will also say that I felt much different about my relationship after getting engaged. I felt closer to him and more confident in our commitment to each other. Although we’re not married, yet, I expect this feeling to increase infinitely once we are married. We will be tied together forever. So even if you do get married and can’t live together right away, I think your day to day life would change dramatically in the way you feel toward one another and your relationship. I wish you all the best!

    • meg

      We waited 5 years too. But when we were ready, we didn’t let anything stop us. And THAT is what I’m saying.

  • Sarah Beth

    Um….Meg? Are you reading my mind? My fiance and I were talking about this last night.

    Apparently, our parents’ worries are wearing on him. He told me that he just can’t think about wedding stuff until “the big picture” is taken care of. “Whatever I can find” is the wrong answer to the question of what sort of job am I going to look for. But, really? I’m an English/Creative Writing major, with no teaching certification, and no money/time for grad school. That IS the answer.

    So while Chris isn’t actually saying we have to postpone the wedding, he telling me he can’t take part in the planning until we have jobs lined up and suitable answers to smooth his mother’s doubts ….which pretty much means putting off the wedding, since we’re already 10 months from our intended wedding date (and roughly ten months from graduation) and haven’t decided on anything.

    So it looks like I’m going to be a wedding undergraduate for a lot longer than is sane.

    • *hugs from another English major* Would it be possible to sit down with everyone (your honey, both sets of parents) and hash out these concerns so that everyone can breathe a bit more easily? J. and I are in the boat of moving right after our wedding so I can go to grad school and he hasn’t found a job in our new city yet (one of the most expensive cities in the US, gulp), so we found we had to do some sitting down with our parents to say, “Okay, here’s what’s going to happen if he doesn’t find a job within the first 3 months. Here’s the plan if it’s 6 months” etc. etc. Everything is still completely uncertain, but man, the idea of being married in the midst of the uncertainty makes me feel *brave* and not scared.

    • Claire

      So, uh…. long time listener, first time caller?

      This is my first EVER APW post (I am such a Wedding Undergraduate I’m basically a Wedding High Schooler) but I had to reply because you are me. I am you. Something something. I just graduated with my English degree and can’t afford grad school AND there are major family issues/worries/worriers on his side. Everyone is somehow afraid that we are jumping the gun but there are no guns! Just happiness! Just people who love each other! They might be terrified that things are going to go wrong, but if you deny the gun’s existence in the first act, it can’t go off in the third. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself. Disbelieve the gun. Am I making any sense? Probably not. But this the first APW post I’ve ever EVER shown my intended because it resonates so deeply. Ugh!

  • Kim

    I’m another struggler here . . . we barely know where we’re legally allowed to live and work. But you know what — we spent so much time apart over the first few years of our relationship that we were finally just like, enough already. Marriage. Yes. If anything, going through the tough stuff is easier because in the end, there’s a binding connection between us.

    “Even though I have no idea what the future will hold, I want to tie my life to yours anyway.”

    I’m ‘exactly’ing that.

    Also, as Erin said up above, let’s not forget previous generations — and it still happens now, come to think of it — who have gotten married before someone gets deployed, or in the face of seemingly insurmountable hardships. That’s what a partnership is for.

    Here’s another thing . . . even if you plan for stuff, other stuff comes up. My mom used to say, “It’s always something,” and I was like, yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever. BUT IT’S SO TRUE! It’s always something, and there will always be stuff that comes up; as many people have said, the right time for you two emotionally isn’t necessarily the right time practically (or logistically). And YES, having a plan is definitely smart. Just know that you can plan your a** off and it might not make a difference at the end of the day (although it might be worth it if it eases any knots that might be in your stomach!).

    I think that if you can and want to do it, do it . . . nothing sucks more than feeling like you’re waiting for your life to begin. Sometimes the “smartest” thing isn’t always the best thing, in my humble opinion.

    • Erin

      Mmm, yep. “Something” always comes up. Married 4 months now, and it’s been cars failing, husband in bed for 2.5 weeks with herniated discs in his back, etc. so I’ve retired my “youthful optimism” that somehow, things will be different for us, hehe. But, “nothing sucks more than feeling like you’re waiting for your life to begin” is soooo true :) It’s just life! All of these “somethings” are just part of that life beginning.

    • Yes! My parents had been married and living together for 10 years when my dad’s job suddenly transferred him across the country. The kicker was that said company was maybe going to open another branch in a third state and maybe would transfer him there at the end of 6 months. Maybe. So my mom packed up our house and us kids and moved to the maybe-state since we had relatives there and it was at least on the same coast as where my dad now was. And for 6 months he’d drive 10 hours to come see us on alternate weekends and then drive 10 hours back to work. It all worked out in the end, since the company did open up a new branch and transferred him down, but man, what I learned is that marriage is so worth upending your life over and when things don’t work out as planned, you roll with the punches and come up with something that will work for you.

  • liz

    rowenna, i feel like i need to back-pedal a bit.

    i got the vibe from your email that you want to get married NOW. and that said, i think you should get married NOW. “love conquers all” is a load of pure garbage- but two diligent people who care for each other and want to be together can often move mountains to be together- and do so successfully, with some work and tears. i know that my marrying-process included a ton of hard choices. and for me, being with josh was worth it. worth turning down profitable jobs, worth the eviction notices, worth asking my mom if i can borrow a couple cans of campbell’s so we can have dinner, worth wondering, “what next.”

    and that’s all i was trying to say. if you want to do it- it’s not nearly as scary as it seems.

    but if this whole discussion has only strengthened your resolve to wait, then by all means- wait! you hafta live your life. we don’t. i didn’t mean to come across strongly- but i do mean to encourage you not to let little things stand in the way of what you truly want. and yes. jobs and commutes and money are little things, after all.

  • Jessie

    My fiance and I have cut every possible corner. If it means nothing to us, who cares if our guests expect it? Our guests will be outside, standing (renting chairs for a 10 minute ceremony is a huge expense), and they’ll be hot, but the important thing is that my fiance and I are tying our lives together, even when we don’t have the money to do it with an extreme party. Anyone who doesn’t understand and respect that, can honestly kiss my butt. :) We’re confident that those who do support us and understand our life situation won’t care one bit about the cut corners.

    • Meg

      Beautiful! Perfect! Yes.

  • Meg

    This post speaks to me a lot. My fiance and I’s original wedding date was last week. We had to postpone it for financial, immigration, and health reasons. However, we’ve postponed it by only a few months. We’re getting married in September and spending very little money on the whole shebang.

    Financially, it still doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, because we’re definitely not “settled” yet, and my fiance may not be able to work for several months after moving in. It means intense budgeting, ramen noodles and lots of date nights in, but we were so sick of living in different countries. He could return to his home country after the ceremony, but I couldn’t bear to start our married life that way.

    In Dave Egger’s novel “What is the What”, there is a beautiful passage about not waiting for love that I think applies beautifully here; “I will not wait to love as best as I can. We thought we were young and that there would be time to love well sometime in the future. This is a terrible way to think. It is no way to live, to wait to love. “

    • Sarah

      What a beautiful passage. Something to live by, that.

  • Kristen

    I know you’ve been completely maxxxxed out recently (but you mentioned an upcoming vacation somewhere – right?) and I just want to say again how much I appreciate everything you do. I loved this post. Even though I’m sitting here in my office with tears running down my face because of it.

  • Katie

    OMG, I’m sooooooo glad someone else finally said this! I’ve been saying it since before I got engaged to my currently-unemployed-soon-to-be-back-in-school fiance.

    I can rattle off a HUGE laundry list of things I guarantee my parents didn’t plan on when they got married 43 years ago. I promise they didn’t plan on my dad getting laid off while they had three kids in college AT THE SAME TIME. They didn’t plan on him having to take a job that meant living 9 months out of the year in Southeast Asia. And they didn’t plan on him getting paralyzed and needing several back surgeries. But that’s what happened. I’m convinced, plans anyone makes for the future are cute, and nice to have, but in general, pure fiction.

    And as for waiting, well, I think it’s summed up best by one of my favorite quotes from Larry McMurtry: “If you wait, all that happens is you get older.”

    Seriously, THANK YOU for posting this. (I’m crying at my desk in my cubicle)

  • peanut

    Right on. I have never understood why people tie their financial situation to getting married; the two things are on different planes as far as I am concerned. In fact, if you’re hurting financially, having a partner there to help you through it would be better than going it alone, right?

    One thing that drives me NUTS is when couples say “yeah, we’re ready to get engaged, but _____ is saving up for the perfect ring!” or ” we don’t want to get engaged until _______ can get me the diamond I deserve!” ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME that is ridiculous. You get engaged because you cannot imagine another minute not being together, not because your checking account/credit card limit has reached a certain level so you can purchase a piece of jewelry.

    • Emi

      Thank you Peanut! This baffles me as well. You commit to a person, not to a dollar amount.

  • Funny, true story . . . My retail landlords are a very sweet 80+ year-old couple who have been married for 50 years. & guess what- they don’t live together! When I first started renting the space, he lived in the apartment above the shoppe & she lived in an apartment about 10 minutes away. She would visit every day. A few years ago, she moved into our building but into another apartment. They just need a little extra space & it works for them, it may be the secret to their long marriage.

    Now I’m not saying this is the norm or anything you should strive for in your marriage. It’s just to point out that marriage is different for everyone & if you can’t live together (although I believe people have made excellent points about working that out) for awhile, then so be it. There will never, ever be a perfect time. Life is never perfect or fair- GO for it!

  • Lady D

    I think a lot of people use things like the economy or another version of “the timing is just not right” to mask underlying doubts or concerns about getting married at all. I could fill a stadium with women I know whose boyfriends used the “when X happens I’ll be ready” excuse and then, mysteriously, when X happened it turned into another X, and he was never ready. I’ve been there myself, years ago. If you are ready to get married then absolutely do it now!

    At the risk of being the lightning rod here…how can you have a marriage without living together? This is a really interesting concept. I get living apart for a finite period (until someone finishes her degree in six months, say). If marriage is about two people sharing their lives, how does that happen if you are indefinitely not living together? We are signing up for those little moments and annoyances like coming home to him and paying bills together and doing the housework and cleaning the dog’s ears. That’s why we get married. I can’t envision a marriage without that stuff. Or a marriage where that stuff happens on the weekend…two days out of seven. I will commit to you and love you and put up with your crap 2/7ths of my life?

    • Meredith

      I agree somewhat. All I have to do though, is look at my parents as a counter example. My Dad is a consultant and works wherever there is work to be done. For 1 year he commuted to Florida (by plane) on Monday and came back on Friday. For the last 3 years he’s been working in Pennsylvania. It, seemingly, works out for my parents. But they’ve been married for 33 years and this consulting didn’t start until just 4 years ago, when all 3 kids were enrolled in or had graduated from college. The rest of their married life they lived together. But my dad has no plans of stopping consulting, so you could say that for the indefinite future (until he retires) they will be living together on the weekends only.

      From the perspective of some, it seems strange. But I feel like when you’ve been together so long, have accomplished so much, have your life for the most part together, being apart during the week isn’t terrible. So I agree that it’s hard to build a life together when you aren’t living together and have no definite plans in the future to do so, but for those that are established, have been married for years, are happy etc, it can be done. And is done. And won’t ruin your marriage.

      • Trust me, I’m with you, Lady D, on living with your husband. For my marriage, I plan to live with my husband. We’ve been living together for over three years & we won’t change that when we get married in January. I’m not an advocate for living apart but if it works for a couple, & they have 50 years of marriage to prove it does work for them, so be it. Not everyone has to live by the norm- they’ve made their own norm & it works.

      • Jess

        I’m glad your parents are making it work. My fiance is in a career field that will require him to be gone the majority of the time. While I would love to be able to see him more (especially once we do have kids), I know this is what I signed up for. I never had any illusions that he would be the husband who came home every night at 5. But with so few examples of couples in this situation, it’s nice to hear some reassurances that it can be done.

    • Arachna

      I don’t think you need to live together to share your lives. In the past I’ve spend two years where the person I shared most with was on the other side of the country (not even a romantic relationship here!).

      I’m not getting married because I want to share a hamper. The causality goes the other way. I’m getting married because I want to have a partner during my lifetime wherever that lifetime takes me, because of this I want to spend as much time with my partner as is feasible with all the other awesome things in life, because of this we live together, because of this we share a hamper. But I’m not getting married because I feel a need to share a toothbrush holder – that’s just a byproduct of the important stuff it’s not the important stuff itself.

    • meg

      “I think a lot of people use things like the economy or another version of “the timing is just not right” to mask underlying doubts or concerns about getting married at all. I could fill a stadium with women I know whose boyfriends used the “when X happens I’ll be ready” excuse and then, mysteriously, when X happened it turned into another X, and he was never ready”

      Amen sister.

  • Emma

    I’m a lurker, but this post was too personal not too comment. Meg you hit something close to home by saying,

    “Even though I have no idea what the future will hold, I want to tie my life to yours anyway.”

    I will be married in 3 weeks (!!!) after 2.5 years apart and dating for 3.5 years. Growing up I thought you “had” to wait till you had your life figured out in order to get married, that’s just what you did. But as you said this is terribly wrong, when you’re busy living and loving, life will take care of itself. If you want to marry, DO IT.

    From NYC and TX my Fiance and I will join each other in Ohio after the wedding as he begins a wonderful step in his career and I take an exciting step finding a new one in mine. Yes this is a sacrifice, this is what marriage is about.

    Like others have mentioned and what my Fiance taught me: you can always have a career but what about the people around you? What about a wonderful young marriage?

    When we got engaged we had no idea where we would be as of our wedding and I literally jump for joy inside because our wedding will be a true celebration of COMING TOGETHER. In every sense of the word.

    Rowenna, although for you this ‘coming together’ may not seem physical right now, what other forms does it take? How can an engagement cause for exploration of your future? An engagement is a wonderful time to ponder the future…

  • Laurel

    Can I nominate this post somehow somewhere as the single BEST blog post on a wedding/bridal blog EVER?!

    My fiance and I got engaged in September 2009. He had recently gotten a new job that was paying him an insane amount of money, finally felt financially secure, popped the question, and we moved in together in a luxury high-rise in Manhattan. We felt like after 5 years together , a start-up business, a failed start-up business, and a year apart on either end of the country, we were grooooooving! And then March 2010 rolled around…he got laid off. We immediately put our weding plans on hold, got deposits back, and are STILL trying to pay our retarded rent with my miniscule journalist’s salary.

    He was depressed. I was depressed. We fought. We cried. Our lives felt like they were in limbo and there was this heaviness that made us feel like we couldn’t move forward. Earlier this month, we made the decision to f*ck our financial situation, f*ck the economy, tell that limbo to suck it, and take back our progressing lives!

    It’s been three weeks (THREE!!) since then and we’ve mapped out a savings plan, secured a venue, secured a photographer, and found a dress for our February 2011 wedding. And everything has been so EASY! It’s just fallen into place.

    My fiance is still on the hunt for a job, but we’ll make things happen and we’ll get through everything together. My advice echoes Meg’s: no time is ever perfect. If you continue to wait, you’ll spend your life waiting and great things will pass you by. It’s scary to experience something as monumental as marriage and a wedding when you can’t really see the future in front of you, but that’s life. Finances, jobs…luck, in general, can change on a dime. You never know what the future holds. So, carpe diem, ladies!

    In the end, we may not have the most Knot-worthy, visually stunning, may-as-well-have-bought-a-house-with-the-money-we-spent wedding, but it will be all ours, and we will be walking down our path hand-in-hand.

    Hugs and love to everyone on this comment board, Meg, and Rowena!

  • Kimberly in AK

    “You don’t get perfect. You just get someone that you want to spend imperfict with. And that is the biggest gift in the world.”

    I wanted a quote that I could put up in our home that would remind us how much we belong together and how happy we are (10 day’s married).

    Since I’ve been yenning to learn cross stitch and procrastinating this is the quote that delivered the kick in the pants to start me out. I’ll send a picture of the finished product.

    Thank you,

    -Kimberly in AK

  • It struck me that the asker kept saying she wanted to get married when she knew where the future is going, what the future holds, etc.

    Please, please, please, before you get married throw away that notion that once you are married you’ll know what will happen in your future. That contract won’t change a thing with respect to your abilities to predict where your life will go. And having the expectation that once you are married everything will go as planned… well, that’ll be one more thing that doesn’t go as planned.

    I am incredibly happily married, and life has taken twists and turns that I never expected, planned for or would have been up for before we got married.

    Get married because you’re ready to make that commitment to each other in the face of uncertainty; and the one thing you will be certain about is your marriage.

    • meg

      Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

  • I think that it’s clear that living together as a married couple is important to you, Rowenna. That is why you asked this question. Since it is important to you and will make you “feel” married, then I think you should wait until you can live together. You’ve already said that in one year you could live together. One year is the perfect amount of time to be engaged, plan the wedding, and finish grad school.

    The second thing to consider is financial issues. You’ve already said that this isn’t about money. So really, this issue is mute. And I’ll echo the comments above – don’t wait to get married because you’re afraid you’ll have to sacrifice a good job, or whatever. This is the part of life that will ALWAYS be uncertain. My fiance has lost two jobs in the past year. It’s not going to change the fact that we are ready to be married, and therefore – we’re planning the wedding no matter what happens with our jobs.

  • Aaaaand I’ve got chills. Thanks, Meg. <3

  • Milena

    I spent nearly an hour trying to compose a reply to this post, because I have so many different thoughts swirling through my head. I have an opinion on long distance relationships, plans, being ready, etc. But nothing I wrote down was sitting comfortably with me. But I kept at it and here is what I came up with:

    I think if you were really (emotionally) ready to be getting married, you wouldn’t be asking the question. It kind of worries me that you have this huge expectation of FEELING MARRIED once you get married. That is a big weight to be putting on a baby marriage. Not everybody gets that feeling. I know people who say that life went on just the same after they got married. I assume that you FEEL like you are in a relationship with your boyfriend now? How do you keep that feeling? I assume you have to work at it. So you will have to do the same once you get married. Getting married is no guarantee that you are going to be in the same place (physical or emotional) forever. Things happen. People still manage to make their marriages work, mostly because they lean on and trust each other. Tough times and a little creativity help couples bond for life.

    A plan is a rough draft of where you think your life will go. Guess what? Life rarely happens according to plan. No job is secure these days (have you heard the stories about how many policemen are being laid off, how many reported crimes will not be attended to due to lack of staff, and how asking for police help at the scene of an accident could end up costing you for reporting it?). It could be a long time before jobs are considered secure again. If you spend all of your life waiting for something, you are never going to get anywhere. (There’s a bus stop metaphor in here somewhere…)

    • meg

      I’m going to exactly all of this.

  • Merideth

    I don’t normally post on blogs, I tend to be an observer, but this really got to me. My partner and I got engaged after 8 years of dating, mainly cause there was never a good time (just graduated from college, graduate school, unemployment, student loans, exc…). We got engaged right as I was looking for my internship so we had no idea where I would be living or if he would be able to follow. So still not the best time, but I don’t think I could have made it through my interviews, waiting to finding out if I got an internship if we hadn’t made that leap. Now I’m going to be living in the Bay area and he has to stay on the east coast for his job. Sometimes I can’t even think of the wedding without crying cause it just seemed to represent this vast period of time where I won’t get to be with him. But at the same time, I think our engagement is one of the few things I feel certain about when all else feels so up in the air. Its not really a great time to be planning a wedding but I think it would be harder if we weren’t.

  • suzanna

    Woooooooooooooooooo! Sing it, Meg! This. Is. Awesome. You are totally and completely the Big Can of Sane. I am one of the people who has fallen for Waiting for the Perfect Moment, and I needed to hear this BADLY. Thanks for the inspiration–I sent this to my sweetheart, hoping to inspire him too!

  • “How can you plan a future when you have no idea where your future is going?”

    I never know where my future is going. If I’m lucky I know where the next few steps are going, but the rest I figure out along the way. The future is a crazy big uncertainty, no matter where you are in life. I’d rather face that crazy big uncertainty with my husband than by myself.

    I know of a couple that got married last year and wasn’t able to live together until this year. They were both in graduate school in different states and were only able to see each other a couple of weekends a month. Was it ideal? Anything but. Yet they made it work rather than wait till at least one of them had graduated.

    Sometimes you just have to jump.

  • I think there is a distinction, like Meg was saying, between waiting for “everything to work out” and waiting for a specific goal. For example, I got engaged while my partner was in between jobs. I told the voice that said “you should really wait and get engaged to someone with a paycheck” to F* off, because that’s not how marriage works. It’s not conditional on jobs. And yet, we waited to get married. We are in what will be a two year engagement, and we chose that because it allowed us to plan a wedding at home from very far away with a little less stress, and gave us time to save for a honeymoon. These were important things to us, and it sounds to me like living together after getting married is important to you. So….if you hearts and minds are there…why not get engaged? It’s a great, big, important, life changing and family dynamic changing event. And, you get to savor engagement till you can have the wedding that is right for both of you.

    • meg

      Yes on specific goals. Double triple yes.

  • soto


    Seriously, I had another mini (okay not so mini) freak out about the wedding. and dropped the big E word: elopement. I know my guy thinks I’m settling, but really…. I’m not enjoying the wedding planning, we’ve already postponed the wedding three months because of money issues (and the money situation still is not getting better), bigger shit that costs more money keeps falling on our plates, big changes at work shake up the little work stability we have!

    I love this guy. I just want to be married. PERIOD. I don’t want the dread of the next eight months of being able to afford the wedding we’re (cheaply!) planning. I want good food, good booze, and good music to celebrate this new beginning. And can’t this all be done with all the nightmare-ish wedding planning?!

    I was feeling so down about not wanting to plan (and figure out a realistic budget) for my wedding, and somehow I just KNEW that APW would set me straight :)

    From a hippie-wannabe bride in Florida, thank youuuuuuuuuu!

    • soto

      whoops, I meant of NOT being able to afford the wedding we’re cheaply planning ;) wedding woes causes typos!

  • Class of 1980

    I haven’t read the comments yet, so no idea how the conversation is going.

    I think it likely that we will be in a Great Depression; not a recession that will be over soon. In case anyone wants to know why I think so, there are many reasons, but a quick answer would be to Google “Gerald Celente”, the trends predictor.

    So I would ask myself, what if everything does get worse? If I found the right person, would I want to go through even darker times not married to each other?

    Maybe this others don’t see it this way, but it’s something I would think about.

    • meg

      In a comment, this is exactly what I was trying to say. I don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel (and I’m pretty close to the situation), so that shaps our thinking, and made me so grateful to be married. When things really started falling apart, I wanted to be married RIGHT THAT SECOND. Two feels much safer than one. So yes, here we all are. We may end up having a baby who lives in a closet, but I’m fine with that. I’ll make the closet adorable, and at least we’ll all be together.

      (PS, Not pregnant. But I think this will still be going on when I am. I know, I’m such an OPTIMIST!)

      • Class of 1980

        You are a realist.

        My business partner and I are also housemates. We are both single (and not interested in each other). But we function as a household and are putting everything into place to make it through a real Depression, and everything that implies.

        Two people tackling a situation definitely feels safer than one at a time like this, no matter how you define the relationship. ;) And I can see some married couples moving in with extended family as we go through this thing.

      • That’s alright. Your baby will just join all of the other city-babies who live in closets!

  • Eh lord, I haven’t been able to read all the comments. But I have another 2 cents to add.

    Sure, marriage is for better or worse. And sure, the worse is better for having someone there to see it through with you. BUT all the talk about putting other major key life plans on hold, or dropping out of school (WTH?) so you can live together as a married couple? Not cool in my book. YES, IDEALLY you want to live together. But some of us have lives where that can’t always happen.

    My husband and I have spent the last 3 years living together, for 2ish of which we were married. It required no end of commuting hardship to make it work, but we did. However, in 1 weeks’ time, we’re moving apart, because we have to follow our job opportunities and that is where they’re taking us. (We’re both doctors on the UK. You take the rotations that you get and you THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS you still have a job.) I would never DREAM of asking him to give up his career for me, nor would he ask the same of me – we’ve both invested too much in ourselves for that to be an option at this point. Especially since we both came into this eyes wide open. We KNEW we’d very likely have to live apart at some point.

    BUT, when we got married, we were ready to tie our hearts and souls together and fuck the rest. We knew that there would be really tough times, but the view that we were in this for the long haul, for forever, would see us through. We both see the continued development of our careers at this point as a really crucial investment in US. So we’re dividing our little household only to be together on weekends. And it hurts. And it’s really scary, to go back to living alone. But it’s OK, because we’re doing it together. And so we KNOW that it will ‘work out’.

    And yes, in my opinion being married does change EVERYTHING. Maybe I was a selfish bitch before, but it was only when I said those vows that I really gave myself over to living for US, not just for ME. We could live on different planets and that new way I see our life together would not change.

    So I say only get married if you’re ready to make that level of commitment to things. And to take the huge blind leap of faith that it requires.

    And that’s me, done.

    • meg

      Yup. This. I don’t think any marriage comes without sacrifice (especially at the moment), and you have to be ready and willing to take that on. And you know when you are, because it stops being a choice and becomes an ‘of course.’ But! you need to make SMART sacrifices. Commuting an hour is a smart sacrifice, living with parents is a smart sacrifice, living apart is a smart sacrifice. Dropping out of grad school? Um. No.

      • My mother HATED that she had to live in her mother-in-law’s attic for 2 years after she was married to my dad because they had no $$. Hated it – until last year as my grandma was dying, and she realized that she was so, so incredibly grateful to have had that time with her.

        So, you never know when yr sacrifices are actually blessings.

      • Liz

        dropping out may be a bad choice. putting it on hold? switching schools? maybe not. i don’t think we should completely disregard alternative routes of finishing higher ed.

      • Lethe

        I’m a bit late in the game here, but I had to chime in on this idea of “smart” sacrifices, because I think that’s right on. It can be misleading to think about it like you must make a “choice” between your job/school and your spouse – a good marriage doesn’t pose that choice. A good marriage means you sit down together and you BOTH make a choice about what is best for BOTH of you to do, for the two of you as a unit. And that unit includes each of your goals and happiness – over both the near and the very LONG term. (Like when-the-kids-have-grown-up-and-you-still-have-years-of-career-ahead-of-you long.)

        I think us same-sex couples sometimes get a different perspective on this issue because we often don’t face the same social pressures some of you straight gals do. Even awesome, liberated men sometimes face social disapprobation if they quit a job/forgo school to move for their wife’s career – some people will make them feel like that makes them a “bad provider” because a career is silently supposed to be their top priority. (Yeah, I’ve seen it happen to friends.) And women can sometimes get social approval from sacrificing a career/school in favor of a relationship – according to traditional social mores, that may make them a “good wife” because traditionally that’s what women were supposed to do. Obviously this is not always the case, but I think we’d be silly to think all those influences are COMPLETELY gone. So it’s hard to pull apart what choice may get you the most tacit support, from what choice is best for you as unique individuals at that particular time in your life. But in gay couples there’s often no person who’s automatically designated to be the wage earner or the sacrificer so you don’t have to worry about that stuff as much when you’re making decisions together. It just makes me really think hard about how my choices or feelings about all this might be different if my partner was a man with all those role expectations on him.

        And I clearly don’t mean to direct this at anyone in particular here, nor am I saying it’s never good to make sacrifices for your spouse! Very much the opposite! When my fiancee and I were applying to graduate programs, we each sacrificed in which we chose: neither of us picked the highest-ranked school we’d gotten into; instead we reached a balance of which schools were best for us individually and which schools would put us in the same place (NYC) so we could live together and do our 20s in the city. Because that was important to us.

        So y’know, this is a novel, but – smart sacrifices = ones that come from striving to be two super self-aware individuals who, in the noise of people telling you what is right or wrong, can still figure out what they want out of life over the long term. ;)

        • liz

          and this is one of my bizarre reasons for almost being grateful for our crap economic state. because couples are being forced to think outside the default. i’m the breadwinner because, right now, i’m the only one who can get a job. (the poor man has been looking for over a year)

          we’re forced into reconsidering the concept of “sacrifice” and our preconceptions about who needs to give up what. which is kind of a cool side effect.

    • peanut

      I agree with the whole making the “right” sacrifices… and agree that quitting school is NOT the right sacrifice, for ourselves OR our relationships. Not only can an education provide greater financial and career stability for our families in the future, but giving up something like a career aspiration or higher education for a short-term gain can have negative psychological effects in the long-term. I disagree with the posters who advise you to quit school so you can move in with your boyfriend, because in the end we are individuals as well as partners and need to nurture ourselves in order to be the best wife we can be. My mother gave up grad school to move to the US and be with my father, and while they are happily married after 30+ years they will both tell you that the majority of problems they have faced in their marriage was somehow related to the fact that my mother did not pursue her education as far as she desired. We’re in this for the long haul, people, and when you take that into perspective an hour-long commute really doesn’t seem like a big deal.

      • Liz

        i completely disagree with the idea that quitting school is always wrong.

        i plan to one day finish my phd. but it’s not on the table right now. which, yes. is quitting. but quitting for NOW.

        i would hardly call marriage a “short-term” gain. if we ARE “in this for the long haul”- why can’t the long haul include higher education further down the road?

        • peanut

          For the specific question of the post, the options seems to be a) continue to live 1 hour apart for a year while she finishes up grad school or b) quit grad school and live with parter now. In this case, the “short term” gain would be to live together immediately, as opposed to slugging through the long distance for another year so she can finish school, have her degree, and be in a better situation both professionally and psycholocially for the future of their relationship. I know a couple where one member goes to UCLA, the other to UC Irvine, and they live in Long Beach (halfway point) and they commute every day to and from school on the 405. It’s the worst commute imaginable, but they do it because neither one would allow the other to quit their educational pursuits. I know another couple where the wife is leaving on a one-year internship to San Diego, and the husband needs to stay in San Francisco; it was a non-option for the wife to leave school. Being a wife does not mean putting your education on the back-burner; there is always a way to make it work.

          • liz

            sometimes it does. and sometimes being a husband does.

            i’m not saying it always should. just that we can’t flatly, across the board, black-and-white declare that quitting school is never an option.

        • I certainly don’t think there is one right or wong way to go about things, I was just responding to the (rather lovely and romantic) earlier posts that seemed to suggest that for love, one should throw all caution to the wind. I certainly agree that to be ready for marriage you need to be willing to make the huge leaps of faith that are inevitable in tying your path to someone else’s, but I also think there are real-world practical considerations that people often have to take into account. And it’s that balance of matching our practical to our emotional needs that we’re all constantly trying to work out in our marriages.

          And, with all things, it depends on the situation. I don’t know what Rowena and her boyfriend are studying, but for some things (like medicine – my personal experience) you *can’t* stop and start studying/postgraduate training, or even transfer in and out of programmes with any kind of ease. (At least not here in the UK.) You need to push on through where you get your posts and make the sacrifices regarding commutes/living apart as they come. It’s a fate all dual-medical relationships *know* they will have to face. I was just providing an alternative perspective of a situation where the decisions to modify career/study in order to stay together can perhaps that little bit more fraught.

          • liz

            i didn’t get that vibe from you, agirl. it was the comments that followed yours, the ones that screamed, “DROPPING OUT IS NEVER OK,” that didn’t sit well with me.

            to be honest, after the seeming disparity between the original email and the comments threaded throughout, i don’t feel that i understand rowenna’s situation. so i was speaking in generalities- not to her specific plight.

            one piece of marriage that isn’t often discussed is the idea of prioritizing your aspirations. josh knows what i want out of life- i know what he wants. we get to organize what’s important now, what’s important later, and how those pieces fit together for us. for our situation, being in school at the same time doesn’t make sense. and i’m the one with the paycheck, so he gets to go first. fair nuff.

            it’s not always a matter of dropping something because marriage “gets in the way” (one of the ideas i hate most) it’s a matter of figuring out what works. similar to what you were saying, i needed to set aside my PhD because it’s not practical right now- and sometimes, goals need to be set aside in favor of practicality. i need to pay bills. and that necessity might not be so overwhelming, were there not two (almost 3!) people surviving on my income. so yes, in part, my education was set aside for my marriage.

            as couples, we need to prioritize our aspirations together- which is what i would expect from rowenna, or anyone else.

            and i know this is becoming a huge tanget away from the original purpose of the post. but it comes back to the root for me- which is that, yes, sometimes you can set aside “responsible” pieces of life for something you want more. education, career moves, a larger bank account. which sounds archaic only because it’s coming from me- a woman. but i know josh would do (and has done) the same for me.

            anyway- like i said. i’m not trying to argue what’s best for rowenna, because, really. who the hell knows. i’m just trying to point out that it’s not automatically some anti-feminist, backward thinking move to set school aside.

          • Liz – Exactly.

  • Rachel

    Amen to that, sister! I think I’ve never heard a more romantic description of marriage that this: “You don’t get perfect. You just get someone that you want to spend imperfict with. And that is the biggest gift in the world.”

    I love APW all the time, but I have love love love loved this week, in particular. It seems even more honest and rugged than usual, and I think it’s been a wonderful reflection of marriage.

    • meg

      Probably because I’m writing it on the fly, because I’ve had no time to get things ready. It’s bad for me working full time (I’m sick now), but good for content. I banged this one out in 30 minutes last night ;)

  • agirlcalledred

    This makes such a ridiculous amount of sense to me. The not knowing when to take the jump as well as the thought that there’s no better time than now.

    As someone who said screw it and took the jump, all I can say is: Life is never perfect and so you have to -make- the perfect time to get married, to move in together, to travel to do anything risky!

    While my sweetness and I were both finishing up our studies last year we finally got around to setting a wedding date for October this year. We had to give plenty of notice as his birth father works in Timor Leste and it can be very tricky to get time away. We planned what we could save on what would likely be our two small incomes and budgeted the wedding for that. All I can say is thank goodness for traditional fathers who like to pay for weddings because we never planned for having to survive on one income without a dollar to spare. So the timing sucks and the stress isn’t fun but we’re so glad that at twenty years from now we get to look back on 2010 and remember it as the awesome that year we got married in, not as a crappy year of fruitless job interviews and pinching pennies.

  • Well put Meg. It looks like the post maybe addressing a different question / reader, but I think it is important to remember that large sums of money are not wedding prerequisite – the desire to stand with the person you love is. I can’t imagine pushing through the hard times in life without my loved ones standing by my side.

  • Meg, this couldnt have come at a better time.

    As my better half and I grapple with “when to get married” (we keep putting it off every year, mostly based on family pressure…”it’s not the right time”, they say, because he’s a late-blooming undergrad that still has a year of school–“how will he support you??”).

    We’ve decided last week to marry in September.
    I am so stoked to read a piece of affirmation about the recession and money and not waiting!
    I am going to print this off and read it to my parents when we meet tomorrow evening, likely they will be yet again trying to get us to wait.

  • i think there are 3 things that have to be ready for people to get married: you have to be ready, your partner has to be ready, and your relationship has to be ready.

    sometimes it really, really sucks when all 3 of those aren’t in line and you have to sit with it for awhile. i’m not saying that this is definitely your case, but it may be that there are some big things that you have to wait for. and waiting can be a good thing, a time for self-reflection, a time to continue to build on the relationship you have with the other person and with yourself, and those things can contribute to the foundation on which you begin your marriage. because, judging from the comments, when those 3 things align, come hell or fucking high water, you are getting MARRIED. waiting sucks, for sure, but it might be the right thing. which doesn’t make it easier.

    and i just realized this comment may be more about me than about you. funny how you write yourself to the answer sometimes…

    • We totally DO write ourselves into our own answers, Jackson! Right now you’re making me look back at what I wrote…hmm….

  • I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this situation has little to do with the whole “living together or not” thing. That might just be code for: “I love my boyfriend but I’m not ready for the thrill of marital mess. Not yet. But I WILL be when the mess is a little…well, less messy. Because *that’s* the only kind of marriage I’m willing to handle right now.” Which, by the way, is fine. It means WAIT. Definitely WAIT. But don’t blame it on distance and timing when it’s probably(?) about your relationship with marriage.

    I’ve browsed through nearly all 150 or so comments and have realized that no matter how “head-motivated” or “heart-motivated” the advice has been, it seems that nothing anyone can say will convince you to get married right now. (Which is fine because no one should be “convinced” into marriage anyway.)

    However, I think that you’d *like* to be convinced to tie the knot because it’s much easier than admitting that you’re not ready to be married to the man you love.

    You probably also wrote in because you’d like to hear someone present a good argument for getting married right now. So far, there have been many. And there were many great ideas for compromise. But they don’t matter because you’ve already made up your mind. You’re just waiting to feel okay with it.

    Forgive me if I’ve just made a lot of incorrect assumptions about you. Just thought I’d present another spin on things. ;)

    Good luck and keep us posted.

  • lynne

    Totally agree with you, Meg! My fiance and I had a long conversation when he was laid off over a year ago. We had talked generally about marriage, but did his job situation mean we couldn’t do it until he got a job? What if he went back to school – did we put everything on hold until he was done?

    Then, he told me that you can’t put your life on hold for what’s going on out there. We would scale our expenses back to fit our income, but that didn’t have to mean we that we had to scale back our hopes and plans for each other.

    Later, he started to doubt whether we were doing the right thing, and I told him that a marriage is building a life together. And that’s what we’re going to do.

  • Angela

    In my opinion: go and get married!!
    my now husband and me (we were married 3 months ago) were waiting for about the same reasons that you have been waiting….like 5 years. When all was supouse to fit together (he finally get a good job in my town) then 2 months prior our wedding he was fired, with no good reason at all.
    So, if you ask me, all things can be in their place, but, BUT all things can get weird, and difficult about jobs even the day before your wedding, so, if you are completely sure you wanna marry, get you license right know, and figure some kind of party for you and your boyfriend….and then your two together may figure it out your live…..

  • Thank you so much for this post. My boyfriend and I have been together for 7 years (5 of which were spent long-distance) and we are constantly getting badgered about when we’re getting married. Because of our ever-inopportune timing, engagement and wedding plans are inevitably going to be postponed for grad school, teaching English in France, and the rest of the myriad of dreams we have for ourselves aside from marriage. In short, thank you for the reminder that it is up to US to decide when we want to put our love down on a special piece of paper. When we’re ready, it will happen.

  • I don’t have time right now to read all of the comments, so this may have come up already. (I’m sorry! I usually love reading Team Practical comments, they make my day!)

    When FH and I got engaged, we talked pretty soon after about what time of year we would like to be married, and both of us agreed in the fall. Neither of us wanted to deal with the unpredictability of a Northeast winter, and summer is too hot, so it really only left two seasons. We didn’t really want to wait more than a year – I’m 28, he’s 34 (happy bday, FH!!!). Neither of us wants kids, so it wasn’t about that, but we got engaged so we could get married.

    I’m not knocking those who choose to have long engagements – there are a number of good reasons to do so. However, to postpone your wedding indefinitely simply because of precarious finances seems to be missing the point. My mother, after announcing that we planned to wed in the fall of 2010 (we got engaged on Jan 2), said she wanted us to “wait” (no specified amount of time) so she would have time to save money (again, no specified amount). When I told her thanks but no thanks, she called me selfish and impulsive, and said she didn’t understand what our hurry was.

    Hurry? No. It’s more like, why would we wait? So we have more money to throw an expensive party? No. We’re getting married because we want to get married, not because we want to have a Wedding.

  • “You don’t get perfect. You just get someone that you want to spend imperfict with. And that is the biggest gift in the world.”

    These are the best words I’ve read in regard to getting married. Thank you.


  • Sarah

    Meg, I completely agree with you in your post and in your comments (which is big for me, because I rarely agree COMPLETELY with anyone on any subject. I’m just difficult like that).

    Rowenna, I hope you are listening to Meg. If you are ready, then do it. If you feel uncomfortable, then don’t (this seems to be what you are leaning towards anyhow).

    My fiance and I have been dating for 7 years, and we just recently got engaged. No particular reason on why we waited so long. It just felt right where we were, but I knew years ago that if he asked me to marry him, I would say yes, and we could go to the courthouse that day and I would feel awesome about the decision. But we were content, and there was no rush.

    What really kicked us in the butt was when he got diagnosed with celiac disease. That changed so much about our lives. It was then that I realized that even though we weren’t technically married, we were already living our vows (for better or worse, in sickness and…more sickness). So still, there’s no rush–thank goodness he didn’t have something terminal–but it definitely made me realize some things about what I wanted to do in my life before things really got screwed up. It made me realize that I didn’t want to go through those things without him–and I wanted to be by his side when things got sh*tty for him.

    We live together, and I asked a good friend (who also lived for a long time with his now-wife before they were married) if anything changed after the wedding. He said no. It was pretty much the same. I’ve also had friends in the same situation who said that everything changed. It truly depends on the couple, I think, and how you’ve built and managed the relationship.

    Sorry for the random string of thoughts, but this one really got me thinking, Meg.

    Rowenna, I wish you luck and happiness, in whatever choice you and your partner make. Just make sure it’s the right one for you.

  • ka

    thank you.

    i really needed this virtual kick in the pants.

    when i committed to my then-boyfriend/now-fiance i told him it wasn’t because i wanted to spend the good times with him, it was because i couldn’t imagine the bad times without him.

    i dunno when or why i started waiting for “a good time” to get married to him!

  • Andrea D

    You can wait and wait and wait for the perfect time to get married but that perfect time might never happen. I got engaged in February, we decided on a date in April of next year, since then I got laid off and our cat passed on. But we’re not stopping the planning of the wedding. Its still going to happen, despite the ill-timed lay off and Crabbers passing. If we waited for the perfect time, there is no guarantee that that perfect time will ever come.

    Some things we wanted for the wedding have changed – smaller guest list, limited bar, and my mom bought my dress for me. I was planning on buying one myself. I had budgeted more for it, but when life happens, you adjust. I got a less expensive dress and I love it just as much as the $1200 one I had been fantasizing about. We also got a new cat (in case you were wondering – her name is Sheba… she’s insane :))

    So please, don’t wait for life to sort itself out -It just may pass you by!

  • Isabelle

    This is a great post and the comments are particularly interesting…!

    We started dating young, but we’ve been together for more then 9 years now, living together for 4. I don’t think getting married will change much in our day to day life, but we started to talk about having some kind of legal security towards each other last year. For us, getting married symbolizes a new chapter to our life together. It will put our couple into “adulthood”. It is a commitment we have already started to make but from which we won’t be able to get out of so easily after the wedding. In that regard, we have chosen the best symbolic timing for us – June 2011: my boyfriend will have just ended school and will be starting his last internship. We are thinking of starting a family in the few years after.

    Is it the perfect timing? No. My guy’s a full-time student and I just got back from a 6 months leave from work without any income (that was a surprise!). But for us, it’s the best. We’ll manage the rest, because the flowers and the big dress isn’t what we care about. We have a list of priorities and we’ll make things work. I think we forget about that when were planning our own wedding, but economical difficulties tend to help us refocus on what’s important.

    When thinking about when to get married, we both had our “moment” when we felt ready. When things were going worse and worse at work, I started to think about my life, changing jobs, having kids… I realized I was ready for the next step in our relationship and in my career. My guy realized a few months ago that he’ll soon be turning 30 and that made him realize time is going fast. To achieve his personal goals, he has to take actions. Getting married, to me, is not just about the love or the need you have for your better-half but also about the vision of the kind of life you want as a couple and what it means for you. My fiance and I had a lot of talks about the future: what we wanted for ourselves, job and personal life, where WE were going, how soon each of us wants a family, a house…

    I think that it is crucial for a couple to have common goals in order to grow together. When you have too many things apart from each other, you start to grow, well, apart. That said, a couple can grow together while being apart. A friend of mine had a long-distance relationship (like in two different countries!) for three years. What made them stay together was that they were slowly working to move in together when her guy’s contract would end. If you don’t know when is the right time to get married, a couple’s goals talk in necessary. Then you’ll know if you’re headed in the same direction, at the same pace.

  • This is such a brilliant article. To be reminded that such joyful, lovely weddings can be put together without all the usual hullabaloo is so important! x

  • “You don’t get perfect. You just get someone that you want to spend imperfict with. And that is the biggest gift in the world.”
    -I’m sure I’m the 938 person to repost that quote on here but I haven’t read all the comments. I cannot tell you how much that speaks to me and surely everyone else who has ever been born.

  • Rhonda

    I’m totally forwarding this to my ex-fiance/boyfriend/future husband (yes, that’s all the same man…it’s messy) immediately!

  • Amelia

    Meg, I just wanted to let you know that I bookmarked this entry and I re-read it almost once a week. I also just sent it to a friend who is planning her France wedding from China with her family in the US. Hopefully it is inspirational to her as well.

    My parents have been pretty hard on us since we’ve announced our wedding plans (along with some other pretty big and costly life changes). A lot of “you should elope” and “this is way too expensive” and “we hate weddings” etc. etc. and I really love my parents so it is hard. Anyway.

    My favorite part: “We seem to have forgotten that when times get hard, that is the very best time to become a family. That is the very best time to combine forces and try to make it together. That’s what our grandparents did, and our great grandparents did. They took each other in worse, and worked together to create better.”

    Thank you.

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  • Gina

    I came across this entry during a web search.

    THANK YOU. <3


  • Samantha

    “We take each other in worse and make it better.” THIS. Exactly.