“Nice girls don’t do that,” my father said, the day my engaged sister told the family that her fiancé had won a trip for two to Bermuda. In fear, she retreated, no challenges, no arguments, just retreat. Her fiance took his brother on that romantic trip, and I don’t think he ever quite forgave her.
This story sticks with me so many years later, as I watch my oldest child get deeper and deeper into a relationship with his GF. I now get messages from her parents, wishing me the best, or simply saying hello! GF speaks as if she is entrenched in my family for the long haul, and she plans her schedule carefully, so that she can be a part of whatever family event is ongoing, even if it is cleaning out the garage.
Love her, or hate her, GF appears to be a part of my family at least for any time in the foreseeable future. For the moment, I am OK with that, because the one word that she has not said, at least to me, is MARRIAGE.
Now, is all of this closeness such a bad thing? I cannot say that I am completely committed to her as a perfect match for my son, but I can say the following: There are worse out there. She is reasonably smart and pretty, maybe just a bit too out-going for my taste.
OK, that came out really badly. Let me take my turn to retreat and try to explain. My mother is in a panic – that they are together for two years, and that they appear to be planning their futures together. First college, then planning locations of where we all want to end up (I am planning to move out of state, as I have previously mentioned). Our ultimate goal is to all end up in the same state. So, relevant here, is that GF believes that she is part of the conversation.
Back to the conversation at hand, I am in this seemingly endless debate with my mom over the clash of her traditional values, and my goal to prevent my kids from having relationships that end up in divorce. Morality aside, if such a thing exists anymore, I no longer think that the culture in which we live expects girls to be virginal when they marry. White dresses are symbolic, and we need not read any more into the color of the dress than the Bride’s personal taste. Pregnant Brides in White, more power to you!
This clash of values needs to be explored. While I kind of shake and quiver as I apply these standards to my daughter equally to my sons, I feel deeply in my heart that giving up those ultra traditional values will ultimately prevent them from making choices that might not otherwise be best for them.
Try it, don’t buy it, is my feeling these days. I stand by the fact that I would rather have my daughter live with a man, not be a virgin when she marries, and not be “able” to wear white when she marries, than to go through the extraordinary emotional and financial disaster that is known as divorce.
I do believe that as times change, we certainly need to learn to adapt and change. I believe in the institution of marriage, and I believe in the idea of marriage. But I also believe in making rational decisions. Are we able to make make such decisions where love and passion are concerned?
And all that being said, marriage is a contract like any business contract. We would no more enter into a business contract when we are in the giddy stages of love and passionate bliss, than we would enter into a financial transaction after drinking a bottle of wine. Do your research! Love the one you are with, and all that, but whatever you do, remember that marriage, is at its heart, a contract. Be wise about signing on the dotted line.