I Do, I Don’t Beta Testing Love
In today’s on demand economy, consumers are used to subscription based or per-use models. This holds especially true for millennials. The way this generation interacts with the world and each other is different than any generation before. This includes dating, relationships and marriage. The process of building romantic relationships has become technology driven, through online dating sites and apps such as Tinder. When I was in my early 20’s, love at first sight, lifelong romance and a happy ever after marriage were desired.
According to a Pew Center Report, just 26% of millennials age 18-32 are married, compared to 36% of Gen X and 48% of Boomers who were married when they were the same ages of 18-32. Sadly, 81% of millennials believe that most people cannot be trusted, including their spouse. This lack of faith makes it easier to break up a marriage without fighting for it.
The millennial generation has a different, elastic concept of forever. Today, 43% of millennials advocate a type of marriage that allows couples to split up easily within the first two years. One third of this generation support marriage licenses for a set period of time only. Starter marriages or Beta Testing your partner is downright depressing. I hope these 25-35 year olds are not adopting an attitude that marriage is irrelevant and exclusivity is a worn out concept.
When I was the age of millennials today, I got married in three weeks. Crazy? Yes. Madly in love? Definitely.
It was a beautiful summer day in June when he walked into my life. He was my college roommate’s brother. As I walked down the stairs in my home, I felt my heart start to pound as I looked into his eyes for the very first time. Did he feel the undeniable, take your breath away, chemistry I did? Was it love at first sight? Yes, it was. There was intense passion, waterfalls, love letters and a dog named Shaggy.
I was supposed to leave for my first year of medical school in August. He had not yet told me he loved me. Yet, in the heat of the summer sun, he asked me to marry him. He said he could not imagine his life without me. I could not bear leaving him, either. Two days later, we were married. His mother and sister were the only witnesses to the beginning of our life together. My beloved grandparents, who I adored, had not met him yet. They ended up loving him as much as I did once they got over the initial shock of my marriage.
I took my marriage vows very seriously. I was very young with little life experience when I said I Do.
My fairy tale love story lasted five years. I loved him too much and lost my identity in the process. I lived in his shadow as he climbed the ladder of success. He did not love me enough or stopped caring along the way. Were we supposed to last until death do us part? I wanted him to be my happily ever after. And so I left behind the person who was everything to me to find myself and my own career.
When my marriage was falling apart, I tried anything, including counseling and therapy. I was not looking for an easy way to end my commitment. Divorce comes with a high price. Yes, it is expensive. But, there is no price worth the toll it takes on one’s heart and mind. I went into this marriage with faith and love.
Love should not be as forgettable as a Facebook status update. I had a starter marriage, like the millennials of today. The only difference is I did not enter marriage as a short term project. The memories and regret will stay with me for the rest of my life. There is no easy way to wipe away the pain and loss with a tweet or mobile app.