Dear 100 Hour Board,
So I started dating a guy from Tinder.
I'm sure my grandma will be thrilled if I "settle down" with a returned missionary with a stable job who's good-looking. I think he would get along with my brother and sister, who are my closest friends. I'm glad to find someone smart and where I feel chemistry, who shares my values, and actually treats me well.
I am, however, contemplating the identity shift involved with getting into a fairly vanilla monogamous relationship with a dude from my hometown.
I have read a lot about marriage as an institution (channeling Mae West, have spent over 30 years trying not to get 5150ed), and it seems like it can be a vehicle for self-betterment and even self-expression for yuppies like ourselves. Frankly, I think that I would probably be happier in my day-to-day married than I have been single.
However, there are other moral and artistic considerations. I think I spent some of my early adulthood with bohemian affectations but a deeply conformist worldview. Now, I feel like I appear quite bourgeoise, but philosophically, I've become more radical.
I have a hard time thinking of that many suburban married white women who changed the world.
No surprise, my ultimate aim is to be a writer, and that's a super lucrative and stable profession. I really do have a deep-seated fear of becoming some guy's economic dependent, in whole or in part, and waking up one day saying to myself, "What happened to that woman who answered to no one? Am I just playing out a script because I couldn't think of anything more creative?"
I guess I don't even know how to start a dialogue with someone, especially without it becoming about my parents' marriage, which it's safe to say, is the opposite of what I want for myself.
The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there. If there's one thing you wish you knew before going down the path to the altar, what is it?
---Portia, living up to her namesake's ambivalence
Dear Portia (or rather, Jo March),
Even as a married woman, you don't have to be a white vanilla suburban wife who answers to her husband. And if that's what this marriage would end up being, don't get married... at least not to him.
I may still be in the very early stages of my marriage, but I have a husband who actively supports me when I want to go to protests, listens and participates when I go on rails about political discussions until the early morning hours, and reminds me constantly how grateful he is that I speak my mind and am stubborn, opinionated, and independent. He doesn't feel like that's a threat to him at all, rather, he is inspired by me.
I have a man that I love wholeheartedly. We get to cuddle every night and tackle life events together. He teaches me about my flaws and my talents, and in my 3 years of being in a relationship with him, I've changed a lot - for the better.
You are right - marriage can be a vehicle for immense self-improvement, and I highly recommend it because I am *way* happier getting to do all the mundane life stuff with someone who makes me laugh all the time. There are "vanilla" aspects of everyone's life, but living life as a married woman isn't "vanilla" because everyone's life is different. Maybe he doesn't want a vanilla life either! A discussion about goals seems in order.
When you make the right decision, even if your husband is the one working, he won't consider you a "dependent" and you shouldn't feel that way either... because you're a team. It's "our" money not "his" money that you "use." He'll support you in your goals of writing and wants you to succeed, and he'll be by your side.
Does he respect your independence? Does he champion and cherish a strong woman who chases after her own dreams?
None of these expectations are unrealistic at all, so if he meets them, you've got a keeper, and being married is awesome.
I think you should decide what you want from your life and live it. Is your goal to "change the world"? How do you want to change the world? Is being married going to hamper that goal? Ulrich's oft-cited quote of "well-behaved women seldom make history" was meant as a critique of history. Domestic labor is immensely valuable! So your typical suburbanite isn't going to be leading a rebellion or masterminding a great work of art. It doesn't matter where you live, most people don't "change the world," period. Or maybe we should be looking at this from another angle. Everyone changes the world.
I've edited a LOT of Wikipedia pages in the last five years. Thousands of people read information that I researched every day. But is that change "better" than the love and care I give to my family? Whose life is going to be more changed by my actions, the person who reads something I wrote, or the child I spent every day talking to at dinner? Unless you have specific plans that require you to be single (like... joining a nunnery, or other specific volunteer organizations), I don't think that marriage should prevent you from doing what you want to.