Better Together

A few weeks after our wedding, I ran into a high school classmate. She was interning for a company in the building where I work. I stopped her in the hallway to catch up. When she asked about my life, I told her about the recent wedding and a few other things. I then asked her what was going on with her. Her response was, “wel, I’m not getting married—I have too much I want to accomplish to even think about that.” She then told me she was in grad school and a few other details, but that first sentiment is what has stuck with me.

I haven’t seen her in close to a decade and once she knew I was married, I suddenly became someone less ambitious, less significant. This could also be in my head, but based on her tone, I think it’s a pretty accurate reading. She reminded me that you really shouldn’t generalize anything.

Although I didn’t care for her generalization, it did get me to reflect a bit on our relationship. I started wondering if being involved in a serious relationship had indeed held me back in any way.

When I started dating Mr. Starfish, I never really thought of our relationship as closing any doors. Looking back, I see it as something which opened me up to more possibilities. We started dating when we were teenagers. Although our relationship formed early on, I never saw it as a reason to stop growing, changing, or pursuing my dreams. It’s actually been quite the opposite.

Since we started dating in our teens we went through a lot together. We went through that college struggle of what do I want to do beyond graduation? Both of us struggled with what we should do and what we wanted to do. I went to school and received a degree in a pretty specific field. My senior year, I decided it wasn’t right for me. When I look back at that time of what to do post graduation, I feel like if I were by myself, I would have felt like I had less options and maybe even settled with that career.

I had a bit of family pressure (pretty much in my head out of guilt) to continue in the field. My parents were very generous in paying for the bulk of my education. I specifically chose my private college due to their excellent program. The tuition was far higher than those of my siblings. I felt like if I didn’t pursue this field, I’d be failing them and all the hard work it took them to put me through school.

One of the things that I learned from Mr. Starfish, whether he knows it or not, is to always question happiness. I knew in my heart this field wasn’t right for me. He simply thought that if it didn’t make me happy, I should do something else. He made it sound so simple. Having his support regardless of what I chose, gave me the encouragement to make a leap of faith and try something completely different.

I feel like we are constantly reminding each other to make happiness a priority. We support each other and encourage each other. I feel like I’ve found someone who sometimes believes in me more than myself and gives me the courage to try things that may be scary. I like to think I do the same for him.

While life does change a lot from being single to coupledom, I don’t think it has to close any doors or limit dreams. Do we make compromises? Yes. Do we check in with each other on things? Yes. You don’t have to do this when you’re single, but you may not have that person who also has your best interest at heart. I value Mr. S’s opinion. When I’m making big life plans, I want his input, not only because I want him to be a part of it, but often times he gives me a new perspective or the encouragement I need.

I think marriage is what you make of it. I know I would still have many accomplishments of my own regardless of my being with Mr. Starfish, but I think his support has helped me to further believe in myself and pursue more. I think we are both equally great people, but I also think things are better together. Isn’t that the point of marriage?

Have you ever gotten the feeling that people thought you were less ambitious or received  any other type of judgment based on your relationship status?


Mrs. Starfish

Wedding Date:
October 2010
I Have a Bullsh*t Hair Color
Fool Me Once, Shame on Me. Fool Me Twice...
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  1. Guest Icon Guest
    Sarah, Guest @ 12:23 pm

    The high school classmate is what we like to call a “HATER.”
    I agree with everything you’ve written. I’ve been with my husband since high school and while we’ve gone through our ups and downs, he has always been my #1 supporter and has always made me feel that absolutely NOTHING is impossible.

  2. Member
    mpine 47 posts, Newbee @ 12:26 pm

    what i always try to remind my single girlfriends is that if a guy is making you feel like you are missing out on opportunities, then he is not the right one for you. my significant other has helped me be stronger as a woman and helped support me while i am in grad school for something i love. he moved across the country to be there for me! and i would do the same for him. that’s how good relationships work

  3. Guest Icon Guest
    Laura, Guest @ 12:37 pm

    I agree with Sarah, she’s a hater! I am a happier and all around better person because of my fiance. Having someone else in your life allows you to grow in ways that you can’t on your own. And I might add I have accomplished a lot in my life AND getting married. Who says you can’t have it all?!

  4. Member
    ookbob 327 posts, Helper bee @ 12:38 pm

    I know how you feel, starfish! High school friends and people I haven’t seen in years (and therefore have NO idea the person I’ve grown to be in that time) give me that little “Aww, that’s cute….?” with the condescension in their voice and on their face. Like I’m getting married and that’s all that’s happening in my life and that’s all that’s ever going to happen.
    No matter that my husband-to-be will support me through career changes and grad school.
    Whatever. They’re jealous (they just don’t know it).

  5. Member
    Melini 1078 posts, Bumble bee @ 12:50 pm

    I used to work 16 or more hours a day 7 days a week. That sort of schedule wouldn’t jive with marriage for me unless DH was working beside me at the same thing. I have a few married friends who still keep those hours, but if I had to wager, I don’t think they’ll be married for that much longer. .

    Your friend may well have been judging you. But she also might have been making a personal statement that she’s in 16 hour a day me mode at this point in her life.

    Some people are happiest when career is first (to the near exclusion of all else). Others are happiest when their homelife/relationship gets that kind of attention. Many of us prefer a balance

  6. Member
    nickeraway 21 posts, Newbee @ 12:54 pm

    Starfish, I am experiencing this exact thing right now! My story is very similar to yours and I oftentimes do question if marriage will hold me back from being ambitious and pursuing my dreams. I constantly have to reflect and remind myself that Mr. Farmer is extremely supportive and we have been together through so many things (and years). Marriage is the next step for the both of us and will open up a lot of new and exciting “doors”. We’re ready for it and by the sound of things, you are to. Mr. Starfish will continue to support you and your dreams and ambitious and what’s even better than what your high school friend has…YOU get to do it together with someone that YOU LOVE! Best of luck to the both of you!

  7. Member
    Miss 1Cent 168 posts, Blushing bee @ 12:58 pm

    I’ve found that people who think marriage holds you back in life have only been in bad or lacking relationships. That girl is totally a hater, and the only reason someone would say something so negative in response to something positive is jealousy. I’ve met many of those girls, they are usually the girls who whine to their gfs that they are going to be single forever. Sometimes negativity like that is just the reason why people aren’t finding the one….

  8. Guest Icon Guest
    Lori, Guest @ 1:06 pm

    Then again, maybe she was just jealous. It’s kind of hard to top “I’m married” in the newsfeed … so she had to remind herself that she’s much too busy and important to get married. Women like that make me tired. Why can’t we just support each other as a sisterhood? Personally, I want to celebrate your life in its present, perfectly imperfect form-whatever that may be.

  9. Member
    soyjoy222 3817 posts, Honey bee @ 1:07 pm

    Wow, loved this post!
    Something you could only post on WB and have others understand. :)

    Who knows what her issue is. She could be a Bitter Betty, or she could really feel that marriage is insignificant.

    But, like you, I believe that me and Mr.Soy are better together. I feel as though our lives had not really ‘started’ until we met. Granted, we met when I was nearly out of college and he had been working for a long time, but he and I instantly felt that our lives were changed for the better. This had not been the case in previous relationships, which maybe why I was a little bit of a Bitter Betty prior to Mr.Soy.

    This classmate may feel this way now, but I bet someday when she meets “The One”, her feelings will change big time.

  10. ladyfingers Member
    ladyfingers 1257 posts, Bumble bee @ 1:11 pm

    Great post! It’s sad that your high school classmate views marriage as something that would hold her back – you are so right that it certainly doesn’t have to, and shouldn’t.

  11. Member
    kristophine 303 posts, Helper bee @ 1:27 pm

    It’s an interesting question. I feel like my life since high school graduation has been a series of wildly conflicting career paths: first I wanted to be a chemist, then a linguist, then a child psychologist, then a doctor, then a research statistician, then (and finally) a doctor again.

    I’m trained for psychological research, but the decision to try to become a doctor was something I wrestled with for years–well into my relationship with my FI. It represents the peak of ambition for me, in many ways: it’s a huge chunk of money on top of my extant student debt, and it’s a massive investment of time and emotional energy. I’ve tried not to put my research career on hold too much, in case I don’t get into medical school, but it’s tough to balance work with night classes as I complete my pre-med pre-reqs.

    I made the decision to try for med school after living with my FI while going to grad school for research psych. After the first year of my grad program (it was a terminal master’s program), I looked at my summer job and thought, “I don’t want to do this. I do not want to sit behind a desk, far away from the anatomical science that I loved about psychology, for the rest of my life.” I think having the constant support of my FI made it more possible for me to decide to say screw it, I’m going for it. It also makes it much more difficult to think about going back for a PhD in Neuroscience, because that would involve uprooting my FI from reasonable jobs for very little financial reward–and given modern academic tracks, probably more than once. So there’s upsides and downsides.

    And I know our relationship has helped build up my social skills. I’m severely anxious, and without my FI I might never have done the scariest and most productive things of the last four years.

    I used to think I was going to be a single-minded, career-track person who would die alone in a high-rise apartment. Now I think I’m a single-minded, career-track person who’s going to try to juggle babies, marriage, social activism, and a career in medicine. Whoo. Woot?

  12. Guest Icon Guest
    a m., Guest @ 1:39 pm

    I don’t think she’s a hater…some jobs/programs require every bit of your time and attention and really don’t leave room for marriage. She should have been more sensitive and aware that she might have offended you, but don’t we all say the right thing in the wrong way sometimes? It’s awesome your marriage helps you achieve even more and it’ awesome she can choose to throw herself into work right now. Everybody’s happy.

  13. Member
    Melini 1078 posts, Bumble bee @ 1:40 pm

    As I read many of these responses (while laying around decidedly not working 16 hour days in my married home) I’m feeling my old balls-to-the-wall career self react.

    If the old friend was judging, the responses that are saying that she’s a jealous hater who obviously will never be as happy unless she gets married too are no better. The truth is almost no one from my career land really does look down on my personal life choices. They got older and made similar ones for the most part too. But when I was in that place I was judged all the time by people who were certain that I was some combination of unfortunate, miserable, and selfish. It got old and probably made me feel like the rift between the way I lived my life and they lived theirs was probably greater than it really was.

  14. sunhat Member
    sunhat 1453 posts, Bumble bee @ 1:59 pm

    I’m sorry someone felt the need to say such a dumb thing to you. I didn’t meet Mr. Ball Cap until we were in our 30’s, but def balances me and I in no way feel like I can’t keep growing just because we are together now. That girl is crazy! Oh and whatever you are drinking in that picture looks delicious!

  15. Member
    paw 871 posts, Busy bee @ 2:08 pm

    While, I do not agree with her statement that you cannot accomplish things while getting married. I do think having a partner changes things or maybe changes what you want. For example, my hubby’s job is extremely demanding of his time. He is dedicated and passionate with. I will say that being with him has caused me to re-evaluate my job, and I have chosen a different path than I probably would have if I wasn’t with him in order for me to be able to take care of things around our house. I don’t regret it by any means, but I do think there is compromise that I know this path is more important to him, and my job wasn’t as important, so I switched in order to be able to do things I found important like owning a home and having a dog that I know he cannot dedicate time to.

    It sounds like that girl would not be willing to do what I did. Then again, I think if she met the right person for her, she wouldn’t have to change her path if she was so driven for it.

  16. spaniel Member
    spaniel 6778 posts, Busy Beekeeper @ 2:28 pm

    I do think that getting married forces you to make some compromises, and some of those might be about your career (or where you live, or what kinds of chores you’ll do at home…). If Mr. Spaniel and I weren’t already together, I *might* have gone to a better law school out of state. That would have impacted my career (or it might just mean that I’d be in even more debt now). He *might* have tried to start his career in the Bay Area instead of near me and his family.

    But I don’t think either of us held each other back. We’re both working our butts off. If anything, I see my career ambitions as hampering my marriage. 😉 My priorities absolutely changed after we became serious (well before we got married). Maybe I’ll be a less successful lawyer as a result, but since that’s not what’s most important to me now, I can’t really say that I’m too broken up about it.

  17. Guest Icon Guest
    Viviana, Guest @ 2:41 pm

    Honestly, what that old classmate said to you is what people who can’t get anyone to date them say, let alone someone to marry them. She will probably be alone for the rest of her life staring at her grad school diploma surrounded by 20 cats while you will have a loving husband and hopefully blessed with many children. Haha :)

  18. Member
    lisaelanna 530 posts, Busy bee @ 4:19 pm

    Almost immediately after returning from our honeymoon I moved to Austin, TX and started working on my PhD in Civil Engineering at the University of Texas. Upon starting work I have learned that there are 6 other women in my lab (all working on PhDs) and all but one of them is currently either married or engaged. I can’t think of many things more ambitious than working towards a PhD (although there are certainly many things equally as ambitious), and clearly there is not a lack of married women pursuing higher education, even in a field with as few women as engineering has. Thus, I think that gal’s statement was rather ignorant. I think that it is fine if you’re not ready to get married, or the way you have arranged your life does not allow you to have time for a committed relationship, but its not acceptable, and kind of rude, to judge others just because they made choices different from their own.

  19. Guest Icon Guest
    Army Amy*, Guest @ 12:02 am

    What an interesting topic! I have to agree that for me, being married has opened up a lot of possibilities. I’m currently working as a teacher, and I could see myself staying at my exact same school until I retire. However, now that my husband is in the Army, it’s unlikely we’ll be living where we are much longer. Moving gives me the chance to reevaluate where I’m at with my career. I’m considering going back to school and exploring other fields. I don’t know if I would have had the courage to do that had my man’s job not given me the opportunity.*

  20. mspony Member
    mspony 9265 posts, Buzzing Beekeeper @ 12:23 am

    Wonderful post Starfish. Clearly Mr. S has been a wonderful inspiration for your personal and professional life.

  21. Guest Icon Guest
    anna, Guest @ 7:36 pm

    My husband has really pushed me to do MORE with my life. Having someone else have faith in me, and push me, AND be there to catch me and support me, has been invaluable. I would not have been able to go back to school to get my masters, and therefore not be in the job I am in today, if I had not been with my husband. And I don’t think I would have been motivated to push myself out of my previous career without his gentle nudging.

  22. Member
    cafegirl 1021 posts, Bumble bee @ 9:30 am

    I think everyone grows differently. For me, I can’t imagine marrying someone from high school because I really needed my 20’s to be independent and to do things on my own. But that does not mean that people who found the right person early can’t grow and thrive. I don’t think your friend was being rude (it all depends on tone–was she snarky or just reflective?) Some of the responses to this post make my back stiffen and remind me of having to defend being single in my 20’s. Just because she said that does not mean she can’t get a date or won’t marry.

    @Melini: I completely agree with everything you said.

  23. kettle Member
    kettle 926 posts, Busy bee @ 5:35 am

    I’ve had similar reactions from friends who are exactly my age but not ready to settle down yet. But with Mr. Kettle, I’m not giving anything. Everything we’ve both dreamed of and wanted is now an actual possibility only because we’re with each other. NYC for grad school? Yup. First child delivered in Europe? Yup. Own our own business? Yup. Neither of us ever thought those very specific yet obtuse goals/dreams were possible until now.

  24. Guest Icon Guest
    snowygreen, Guest @ 9:57 am

    Hi Mrs. Starfish! I too am getting married in RI and am looking for a videographer… I’m wondering if you would mid sharing the name of yours? I looked back thru your posts and couldn’t find it, but maybe I missed it?! Thanks!!!

  25. starfish Member
    starfish 1902 posts, Buzzing bee @ 6:02 pm

    @snowygreen: I’m sorry I just saw this now. I don’t think our wedding videographer is in business any longer. He took down his website and when our corrected video finally arrived it was from a SC location. Mrs. Zebra worked with Mike Picard, you may want to PM her and see if she has any feedback. I hope you find someone! :)

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