Don’t put a ring on it, yet

Emma Finkbeiner

We’ve all been there, absentmindedly scrolling through our Facebook news feed at the end of the day when we stop abruptly to find yet another engagement announcement.

re-Emma
Finkbeiner

As a 20-year-old college student, the last thing I thought I’d see weekly, and sometimes daily, would be friends and acquaintances announcing engagements and posting about their wedding plans.

Maybe getting married this early seems more shocking to me because I come from divorced parents who married very early, but this column is not meant to denounce these acts of love. I’ve been in love before, and am currently, but it seems like it has become an expectation for couples my age to be thinking about marriage as soon as the words “I love you,” come out of our mouths.

I see this becoming another element of the pressure we receive from peers and family members to know and decide our future before we walk across a stage with a diploma in our hands to the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance.”

I was surprised to see, despite my own observations, that a Pew Research Study released in 2014 revealed the millennial generation is getting married later than any previous generation. The study showed only 26 percent of millennials are married between the age of 18 and 32. However, I still feel there is a pressure to have it all figured out.

Let me be fair and disclose that I have several close friends who have recently gotten engaged to their partners and I couldn’t be happier for them. They are couples who have been in happy, healthy relationships for years and couldn’t be more perfect for each other. I commend these couples that are playing the balancing act of planning a ceremony that symbolizes tremendous love and commitment while in school, but I personally don’t think I could focus on such a large project right now.

This article is driven not by a resentment toward those who decide to say “I do” before graduation, but by the unrelenting pressure I have felt to get married, a pressure I don’t want to force my significant other and I to make that commitment before we are ready. It probably doesn’t help that my partner is 24 years old and he probably receives even more pressure than I do.

My significant other and I have been asked countless times since we moved in together when we plan to get married, and to be honest, I think I would marry him if he asked me to. However, it just isn’t something that is on our minds right now. When he and I have hardly had a legitimate conversation about marriage, it becomes an incredibly awkward situation when people ask us about it in public, flattering as it may be. Yes, we have learned to coexist, which is a feat of its own, but we are only approaching the one year anniversary of our relationship.

There are a few reasons I’m skeptical about getting married at this point in my life: cost, time uncertainty after graduation and the combining of loan debt. CNN Money reported in March of 2014 that the average cost of a wedding has risen to approximately $30,000. It is customary for the bride’s family to pay for a majority of the wedding, but while I’m already receiving help from my parents to pay for my education, I wouldn’t want to throw wedding costs into the mix. Not to mention the time it takes to plan a wedding and the stress it could add to my everyday life. Combining my student loan debt with my partner also seems like a hefty undertaking at this age and the fact that getting a job after graduation for both of us is unpredictable.

As much as it scares me, it is also exciting. To see friends start a new chapter of their lives and often be a part of the process from engagement to newlyweds, is a unique experience. It shows me that I’ve taken a giant leap into adulthood and that I’m going to experience making big life decisions in the near future.