"...and how's Jennifer? Have you met anyone special?"
"Oh yes, I have a boyfriend."
"How lovely! And how long have you been together?"
"Oh..err.. it'll be 6 years this year."
*eyes flicker to my ring finger*
"Oh, no ring yet?"
*gives me a sad look*
This seems to be becoming a bit of a regular occurrence and every time I find it incredibly bizarre! Marriage isn't really something I think about anymore other than after conversations like this. Are Mark and I going to get married one day? I don't know. And that's not because I think that I haven't found the right person, it's actually quite the opposite. I think if we're both fortunate enough to reach old age, we'll be sat next to each other in our rocking chairs making fun of each other like we always have done. It's something we joke about sometimes, you know, I'll send him a picture of a ridiculously big bigger-than-my-hand diamond with the caption 'I'll have this one please' and he'll meticulously describe an elaborate proposal featuring dancing bunnies and hundreds of people. But we've neither said we will definitely one day or we won't ever.
Whether it's because I've seen too many couples, who were very much in love, get married only to separate shortly afterwards or because I don't know what the word marriage means for us right now, I just don't think we want things to change. I mean, we're happy, we're doing okay. What if we get married and it prompts a change for the worse? I'm not especially religious (I don't think. Ahh faith, more questions that I find myself mulling over sometimes. I'm almost positive my head should have internally combusted by now with the amount of things going on in there!) and although Mark's family is, we don't go to church regularly so a religious service wouldn't be particularly appropriate for us, I don't think?
Being the centre of attention is pretty much my worst nightmare and combine that with only really wanting to have less than a handful of people there, it wouldn't be a big fancy occasion. I don't want the big fancy dress and we wouldn't want a huge elaborate venue or big party because it's just not us. We would spend the day shuffling around awkwardly, not really knowing what to do with ourselves and trying to make awkward small talk with distant relatives we don't really know very well. (He has the biggest family I've ever known!)
Would getting married change our relationship, for good or bad? I don't know. Would I take his surname? I don't know, I'd have the worlds longest name if I did, especially because I'd like to keep my Mama's family name in there too. I like how things are right now.
And the truth is, I don't want him to get down on one knee and take out a box with a shiny ring inside, no matter how beautiful it is. I'd be completely terrified of losing something he had taken the time to choose out of all the rings in the world and then I'd be worried that if I did lose it, it would be some kind of bad omen and I'd worry about it constantly...for the rest of forever probably. I'm a bit like that. Crazy. I also have a bit of an irrational phobia of wearing two rings on the same finger and I do kind of already have the wedding band that I would like all picked out and stored in my head (- and yes I know that's incredibly ironic for someone who doesn't even know if she ever wants to get married at all. I'm a walking contradiction to my own thoughts!)
But mostly I'd find the whole thing much more romantic if he just turned to me one day, completely out of the blue, and said "...so...want to go and get married sometime?"
Right now I'm mostly thinking that it's something that will either feel appropriate (that's not the right word, but you know?) at a particular point or it won't and we'll just carry on as we are. And I think I'd be okay with that. Either way. Fate? Destiny? Who knows?! I think it's quite clear after all of this that I certainly have no idea!
And then of course there's the continuation of the conversation as if the first set of awkward smiles weren't bad enough...
"So...when will a miniature Jennifer & Mark be arriving?"
....and that's a whole other set of thoughts mostly involving 'how on earth can we possibly ever be responsible/good/mature/smart/sensible enough to guide another human, who we would be solely responsible for, into adulthood and do it well when we're not really sure what we're doing ourselves most of the time?!' Even though I secretly think he would be a wonderful father. It's more my own abilities that I doubt on this occasion.
But I'll leave that one for another day... ;)
P.S. None of this is to say that I don't understand the concept of marriage at all. I actually think it's a really beautiful thing. Neither to I begrudge or in any way look down on anyone that does want a big, beautiful wedding day or romantic proposal so they can celebrate their love in front of their family and close friends. I think marriage is such a personal thing and is ultimately something that will vary infinitely from couple to couple. I'm just trying to figure out what it means to me and if it's something that's right for me/us.