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?