Bias Buster: Five Incorrect Assumptions About Marital Status

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Woman being interviewed for new job by panel of business people

“Let the world know you as you are, not as you think you should be.” – Fanny Brice

I got engaged at the age of 44 and this is my first marriage. I’m one of those people who didn’t see a point to marrying anyone unless and until I met my soul mate. I went about the business of living my life and, unexpectedly, when I was 40, met a wonderful man. So, now I’m getting married. Life is pretty cool sometimes!

Since the engagement, I’ve encountered some misconceptions about brides heading into a first marriage. We are not all in our twenties, we are not just starting out in life and kids may not be the next thing on the agenda. Here are my answers to some of the questions I’ve been asked since my engagement, which shows how marriage may change – or may not change – the lives of more modern brides.

Are you going to have kids? Um… no. I’m 44 years old and if I had wanted kids by now, I would have had them – married or not. I say this at a time when my friend has just announced she is pregnant for the first time – at the age of 45. She is thrilled and I am thrilled for her. Also, my fiancée has two teenage sons, so we already have kids. Another misconception regarding children is that, despite my fiancée having custody of his children for more than half the time since before he and I have been together, people still seem to think he does not see his children often or that someone else has primary responsibility for them. Not in our case.

Are you looking forward to wedding gifts? No way! I am at the stage in life where I do not want any more stuff. In fact, I am going to get pretty angry if someone tries to give me a blender. I like the idea of telling people in lieu of wedding gifts to contribute to charity. Meanwhile, a friend of mine is also getting married for the first time at the age of 44 and she is doing everything in the traditional manner – gift registry and wedding website included. I guess I can always re-gift her my blender.

Are you changing your name? No. I have always found that tradition paternalistic. It makes even less sense at my age when my personal and professional life has been lived under one name. Changing my name at 44 seems like an unnecessary complication. A friend of mine changed her name when she got married because she felt not having the same last name was an unnecessary complication. Both of us are right.

Are you excited to be starting your lives together? Have I mentioned I’m 44? A newly married couple moving out of their parents’ home for the first time may be excited to be starting adulthood together. But, I’ve been a full grown adult for well over half my life. Single people my age do all the things married people my age do. We pay the mortgage, take business trips, unclog the garbage disposal, practice law, have brunch with neighbors, go on vacation and cook dinner. One change I have enjoyed since meeting my fiancée is now I’m not the only one who stacks the dishwasher.

Are you going to continue working? Now, I can’t help but get a little judgmental about this one. Come on, folks. Would a man ever be asked this question? First of all, this question assumes that my fiancée can support the lifestyle I had when we met, without my income. Why would someone assume he is able to do that knowing nothing else about him, other than his gender? Also, lawyers generally do pretty well financially, so it would seem silly for a woman to scrap her 15 year legal career just because she’s met some man. Nope, not me.

The next time you meet a soon-to-be-bride, try not to make any assumptions about her marriage. In recent history, couples have decided for themselves, when , how and why they wish to partner with another. I believe this results in couples making better choices in partners and experiencing greater happiness in their choice. Marriage does not “look like” anything in particular anymore, as each of us make the choices that match our own unique paths.

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