I Waited 9 Years to Get Engaged & I’d Do It Again

Source: @jonathanborba | Pexels
Source: @jonathanborba | Pexels

Despite all the glass ceilings we women have shattered, there’s still a weird, outdated societal stigma surrounding marriage. Take it from me—I waited over nine years to get engaged to my partner, and many of those years were filled with prying questions and judgmental looks about the state of my relationship. Everyone looked at us like we were crazy for not taking the next step because there’s apparently a “correct” timeline to follow when it comes to getting married…?

I don’t regret waiting one single bit, given what I learned about myself, my relationship, and my future. Ahead, I’m getting into the details to explain the real reasons my partner and I waited “so long” to get engaged, what I learned from it, and why it was the best decision I made as a woman.

Why we waited to get engaged

My early 20s were marred by mourning the loss of my professional wrestling dream after being rear-ended by a drunk driver and sustaining permanent neck and shoulder injuries, healing from said injuries, and finally making the career change to writing. Please don’t mistake me: I wouldn’t change my life for anything, nor can I imagine doing anything else besides writing, but needless to say, marriage was the last thing on my mind (or my partner’s mind, for that matter).

This is what we’d tell people when they asked when we were going to say “I do,” but the truth is that while we blamed extenuating circumstances, it’s obvious now that the reason we waited so long to get engaged was simply because we weren’t ready to get married. Sure, we’d toss around the idea occasionally, but if I’m being honest, there was a lot of sh*t we had to work through individually and as a couple, including some personal challenges and decisions about our future we’d been avoiding.

My fiancé has an avoidant attachment style, which inadvertently affected me in more ways than one. But after a particular event forced him to face this about himself and learn how it made me feel, he put in the work and started practicing mindfulness to become less avoidant. Not only did this show me that he was committed to becoming the best version of himself for our relationship, but also that he’d always have my back. Additionally, I had an epiphany one day that we both needed to stop living in limbo and decide whether we were going to have kids eventually. I admitted that while I wasn’t in any rush to become a mother, I did want to have kids eventually, and he told me that while the idea of being a parent scares him, it’s something he wants to do one day as well.

Taking the time to work through some of our challenges, as well as making the decision to have children one day, finally brought our future together into focus; for the first time, we had a real plan and knew what we wanted to create as a couple. And since we also felt secure in our respective careers, we knew we were finally ready for marriage. It was time for the next chapter of our lives to begin.

The “right” time to get married is always when you and your partner truly feel ready for it—not because society’s told you it’s the right thing to do.

What I learned from waiting

People will always try to put you in a box, especially as a woman, but here’s the thing: You can’t let their opinions sway you. Are other peoples’ opinions annoying at times? Yes, absolutely—but one thing I learned is that opinions from our trusted friends and family members often come from a place of love; they care about and want us to be happy, but it’s up to us to stay firm in our resolve and be true to ourselves no matter what.

What’s more, while some will argue that marriage is nothing more than “a piece of paper,” I now know that marriage truly is a big deal and not something that should be taken lightly. They say marriage is for better or worse, and waiting so long to get engaged gave us a chance to see each other through the good times and the bad. And I can confirm that it’s a hell of a lot easier to love someone when they’re thriving than when they’re sick or at their lowest because they lost their job. But taking the time to grow together and experience both the madness and beauty life has to offer will better prepare you for the lows and highs the future holds.

When it comes down to it, there truly is no timeline in life. We’re each on our own trajectory, and that’s a beautiful thing; what’s right for me and my partner won’t be right for everyone, and that’s OK! Regardless of how long you’ve been together, the “right” time to get married is always when you and your partner truly feel ready for it—not because society’s told you it’s the right thing to do.

Why it was the best decision I made as a woman

One of my biggest fears growing up was that I would become wrapped up in my husband as soon as I got married and subsequently lose myself in the process. There are so many examples of women in pop culture (and in everyday life) who give up their careers to support a man and their shared household. The man gets all the glory, and the woman shrinks herself. That lifestyle is just not for me.

Waiting so long to get engaged allowed me to grow as a person throughout most of my 20s and develop my own identity as a woman with my own career. So, while I will be a wife in just a few months, I know that will only be one part of me. It won’t define who I am. I’ll still be me.

As a woman, it can sometimes feel like you have to pick and choose what you want when it comes to your career, love, and family, and I think this is exacerbated by our fertility timeline. Egg quality tends to decrease after 35, and although more people are getting pregnant later in life and fertility treatments have come a long way, egg freezing and IVF cost a pretty penny. Since my fiancé and I eventually want three kids after we’re married, and I’m 28, it makes more sense for us to try to make that happen naturally without blowing through our savings. (I plan on starting in my 30s, but I digress).

While I will be a wife in just a few months, I know that will only be one part of me. It won’t define who I am. I’ll still be me.

Final thoughts

When it comes down to it, you have to pick what you want. Despite what society says, you can have it all—you just might not be able to have it all at the same time, and that’s OK. I think knowing what’s most important to you is key to making all your dreams come true. For me, that was focusing on and prioritizing myself and my career first before getting engaged, and now I’m at a point where I can prioritize my marriage and, eventually, family alongside that.

It sounds cliché, but whether it’s getting married, changing careers, or moving across the country, you have to follow your heart and do things in your own time. I’m so grateful my fiancé and I stood firm in our decision to not rush into marriage, and I know that our marriage will be all the better for it. And after we tie the knot, I’ll have no problem telling people we are taking our time to have kids as well—because other people’s ideal timelines for my future aren’t the standard for defining my success as a woman, as a wife, or as a mother.