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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Reaching the Peak

Sometimes I feel like I've over complicated getting married. In my mind I've turned it into something impossible. It's like how I imagine climbing to the top of a mountain would be. I've circled the mountain, attempted to climb it with varying degrees of success, even nearing the peak, but I've never gotten all the way to the top. And after spending most of my adult life trying, I've determined that it is (nearly) impossible to reach the peak of that particular mountain.

When I see people get married, I think, "How is it possible? You love him and he loves you and you believe you can tolerate each others imperfections and you have agreed to bind yourselves to each other? How?" Not because I think it's a bad idea; I think it's a wonderful idea. I just don't understand how some people manage to get to that point and others can't seem to.

The other day I was talking on the phone with a friend who is trying to set me up with his friend. In the course of the conversation, he said something like, "it's not about dating a ton of people, it's about finding the right person and getting married." It sounded so simple. Meeting the right person and getting married. Pretty straight forward, right?

I think that when people get married early, it's hard for them to understand older single people like myself. It seems to them that I'm making it overly complicated or waiting for someone perfect, but that's not the case. Or.... is it? Maybe I am making it too complicated. I hope that when and if it does happen for me, it's as simple as my friend made it sound.

I'm not so naive as to think there are no problems along the way for my friends who get married. And I also don't think of marriage as the end - although comparing it to a mountain peak does make it sound that way. Throughout life, there are many mountains we have to climb. This particular mountain is just the one that most baffles me.

Don't misunderstand me - I'm not circling the base of the mountain in a panic or anything. I hope this post doesn't come across as desperate. My friend's words just got me thinking about this conundrum. I'm wondering if there's an easier way to get to the top than the paths I've been choosing.

Thoughts? (And if you're thinking arranged marriage, I beat you there.)

Note from me: After reading this the day after I posted it, I really wanted to take it down. It makes it sound like the only thing I think about is getting married, which is not the case. But I decided to leave it up anyway - take it how you will. It's a part of me.

16 comments:

Katherine said...

You're speaking my language! I often feel the same way when I see people get married. Rarely do I feel jealous, but more a sense of satisfaction-they did it! They reached the impossible peak! And then I ask myself the same questions you do, and the same useless advice from others. (Sorry, others, but really, "You just have to find the right guy?" Not advice.) So I tell myself again that for now there are other thing I need to do, and when I do get married I'll be that much more prepared. :)

Ashley said...

I'm right there with ya! I think we older folk do complicate it, but only because life gets more and more complicated the older we get, not just in terms of marriage.

Maybe the key is, how it says in the scriptures, becoming like a child. Becoming child-like sounds like a fun theory; let's give it a shot!

--A new reader of your fab blog,
Ashley :)

Heather said...

I got married the first time young. Then I got married again olderish.
I can see how not being young would complicate the matter. You have more of an idea what you would and would not compromise on.
I still think you would know though when you have found THE guy.

Linda said...

It seems terribly complicated and impossible until you find the right one. You can't imagine marrying the wrong person, but the waiting seems eternal and so you second guess yourself, thinking that you must have done something wrong along the way. Not so. You just haven't met him yet. Don't give up the ship.

Haupi said...

They say we all have unconscious programming that helps create our reality or experiences...I don't know where I'm going with that other than to say - maybe you really deep down don't want to get married yet? Or not.. Hope it works out with your friend's brother - but regardless, you're a sweet girl and it'll all turn out just like it's supposed to.

Haupi

Ashley said...

I love your mountain analogy. I often think about where on earth there's a guy who will put up with me and vice versa. It's the one big thing I can't control, so all I can do is throw my hat in the ring and try not to worry about it too much (Easy, right? Haha). I like Katherine's thought on telling myself I have other things to do and will be much more prepared compared to the young marrieds. We have a lot more knowledge and experience to bring to the table in a marriage.

Amy said...

I am in favor of arranged marriage, as long as I get to pick who does the arranging.

We singles get a lot of what feels like contradictory advice. Everyone says that marriage takes work and there is no "one and only," but everyone also says all you need is the right one and once you find each other all this complication will work itself out.

This amounts to people telling me that I can't expect to just sit back and wait for everything to fall in place, but simultaneously telling me that there's nothing I can do about it and I just need to wait and someday everything will fall miraculously into place. It's no wonder this marriage thing looms up like a mountain that can't be scaled.

I think it's normal to think about it and be baffled by it, especially as we get older. But there's something to be said for walking around in the foothills and exploring the scenery down here :). I've had experiences and friendships in my single years that I would hate to give up.

Mark said...

Ten and a half years ago my bishop interviewed several of the "older" guys in my ward and suggested to each of us that we should lower our standards in order to find a spouse. He thought I was being too picky and wouldn't accept the idea that a good match had not yet occurred in my life. I very nicely told him to take his advice and timeline and shove it.

None of the other guys took his advice either, and the ones that eventually found a nice girl to marry did so on their own terms.

Reevaluating expectations is not the same thing as lowering standards. It isn't a matter of finding a smaller mountain to climb. It may mean finding a way up that a younger person would overlook.

When you're done with your hiking boots, can I borrow them?

Anonymous said...

Now I know I'll never meet you (I'm just an anonymous blog groupie, after all) and I know that I do not know any more of you than you have posted, but to me you have all the ingredients you need to let love rise. You are thoughtful; you apparently appreciate the quirkiness of children; you recognize beauty when you see it. You have a great sense of humor and are sometimes self-deprecating, which indicates a checked ego. You have friends and a strong family. You are a brave, forthright writer.

You will be the same person after marriage that you were before. When somebody chooses you to be his wife, you are somebody special, right? That means, Elizabeth, that you ARE somebody special at this very moment. You will not change. You only need to wait for somebody ELSE to change so that they recognize all that you are.

Patience.

Elizabeth Downie said...

Thank you Anonymous, for your kind and thoughtful comment. It means a lot!

Sarah said...

Becoming child-like is a great plan, and will make the journey more enjoyable! :) And it is certainly more complicated because as we’re older, we have more set career paths, less flexibility, and have seen too many friends divorce, knowing we have to be so careful who we in the end do choose. For advice (not that I should be doling it out!), I'd say to make yourself the focus rather than focusing on finding the right guy.

By the way, your mountain analogy is perfect! As someone who has just recently climbed a mountain, I’ve learned 2 things. The peak (getting married) is not the end, because then you have to come back down – which was MUCH harder than going up, but also, completely thrilling in a totally different and unexpected way. And, the second thing I learned is that once I climbed a mountain, I never wanted to do it again, so I saw that similarity to marriage, too…once you do it, that should be your only time, so pick a good one and use all your preparations to do it right! :)

(For the record, I already think you are super well-rounded and not at all focused on ONLY getting married, and that's why I love ya!!)

lizzie mc.- said...

There are pleanty of challenges to face so don't change your standards. One suggestion that I've liked is to write down the qualities that you want in a man... then develop those qualities... except maybe massive biceps:D I think you are the kind of person that has a fair idea of what you're looking for and are the kind of person that would attract him. Some of us are lucky enough to have been led instead of to our clear idea of what we wanted to what was right. I believe that you see the pool narrowed because you know both what you want and what is good for you. That just means you know who you are... and that's a good thing. Don't stop climbing, but enjoy the view on the way!!

Jodi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jodi said...

Hope it's ok, but I wrote my thoughts on my own blog here: http://jodigreeneyes.blogspot.com/2010/08/marriage-who-really-has-it-right.html

Debbie and Bobby said...

I think it is all about the Lord's timetable/plan for us. We don't see the big picture as he does. I remember when I was 18 my roomates and I made predictions as to who would marry first, second, etc. It SO did not happen in the order we predicted. It actually happend almost the opposite. If you would have told me that I would be married at 21 I probably would have laughed in your face so I think this finding "the one" has something do it. Or least finding one that you feel you are compatible enough with to decided to share the rest of your life with. And it all can't be forced into some timetable that we've layed out for ourselves.

Liz said...

If I have learned anything from watching How I Met Your Mother, it can take years to find the one.

I tend to panic about what ifs and I think what if a huge flood occurs and I have to get to higher ground. That makes climbing that mountain imperative. But that's just my crazy mind.