If you follow me on Instagram, #adventuresinmarriage is a hashtag you’ll see me use often. Aaron and I are constantly going on adventures, trying new things, and navigating life in general not just as a couple, but as best friends and family members. I mention this because while we were plant shopping over the weekend at Lowe’s Home Improvement, I had an intriguing conversation with the young man who rang up our purchase. He had previously addressed me as “miss” when he found me loitering near the register and offered his assistance; and when I informed him that I was just waiting for my husband so we could check out, he seemed a bit surprised. I assumed he had misjudged my age (just trying to be polite) which is a fairly common occurrence. He himself looked in his late teens/early twenties. But while he was scanning our various flowering plants he asked me some questions that, upon reflection, are quite amusing to me.
“If you don’t mind me asking, how old are you?” He said this with particular inflection on the are.
“Twenty-six,” I replied.
“And you’re already married?” He had an astonished look on his face. “Shouldn’t you be out having fun and living your life?”
I couldn’t help but laugh. This isn’t the first time I’ve been subjected to this line of questioning and I’m sure it won’t be the last. I was barely 21 when I met my husband and was 23 when we were married.
“I’m having more fun with my husband than I ever did when I was young and single,” I explained. I eagerly tried to impress this upon him, despite his obvious skepticism. “We get to have fun and try new things and live happily ever after, like built-in BFF’s. What could be better than that?”
He immediately assumed that there had been some ulterior motive behind our partnership.
“Do you have a baby together?”
“We didn’t have to get married because I was pregnant, if that’s what you’re asking,” I said, a little more defensively than I had intended. The cashier started to backpedal in a confused panic.
“No, no, that’s not what I meant – I was just wondering if…” and I interrupted him before he felt any guiltier about what he’d implied.
“We’re planning on having kids, just not yet. We just moved here and we’re still settling in.” Then I tried to wrap up the topic on a positive note. “Getting married was the best decision of my life. I’m happier every day knowing that I have a partner now and for the rest of my days. Real, true love is liberating, not limiting.”
And with that, Aaron rejoined us and the conversation dropped off. But even after we left and were driving home I couldn’t shake my disappointment in the popular opinion that marriage or conventional family practices are something to be ashamed of. It’s a phenomenon I’ve encountered multiple times this year on social media and frankly, it’s pretty disheartening to think that the upcoming generation doesn’t think of traditional values as respectable or attainable.
Less recently I took part in a conversation (read: roast) about a related subject on Instagram. A woman had posted a picture of herself putting up her ring finger like she was flipping the bird, and with it a long, venomous caption chastising a financial institution for printing her marital status on her debit card. What the six-inch-long caption boiled down to was that she was pissed that her bank had printed “Mrs.” before her name on her debit card. Granted, I’ve never seen this put into practice in the US (she was from Britain, I believe – there’s no way for me to confirm this because she has since blocked me on Instagram) but even if it had happened to me, i wouldn’t have given it a second thought. I am, in fact, the “Mrs.” to my “Mr.”, a fact that I am immensely proud of.
Apparently not all women wear their titles as a badge of honor, as I do.
Hundreds of estrogen-fueled rants about gender inequality and discriminatory labels flooded into the comments. Dozens of women raged that as wives, we shouldn’t have to sport a title so degrading as “Mrs.” as if we are “property of our husbands.” Statements such as “Marriage doesn’t define me, I’m still my own person” surfaced along with testimonials of women retaining their maiden names because “marriage doesn’t change who I am.” Although these are all opinions, and everyone is entitled to one, I couldn’t disagree with their statements more.
Marriage HAS changed me, but for the better; I am more complete and content than I ever was on my own. I AM defined by my spouse, as he is defined by me – we are partners in this life, and prefer to live it side by side, working as a team, instead of independently (and apparently disdainfully.) And I find it disappointing and distasteful for these women to whip themselves into a patriarchy-bashing riot which accomplished nothing but unreasonably encouraged animosity towards their spouses and the male gender as a whole. Being only one of a handful of people who were brave enough to disagree with the feminist harpies, and after being bullied, threatened, and ridiculed for my differing beliefs, I closed with this statement:
“I hope none of your husbands read this post. How awful would that be for them to see what you all have said about the ones you vowed to love and to cherish? Shame on you.”
Take it or leave it, girls, because when it comes right down to it, my hubby comes first – and so should yours.