“What about your careers?”
“You’re so young.”
“Don’t you think you should move in together first?”
Yep. Heard it all in the last week. I am beginning to think there is nothing more public than an engagement. Everyone thinks it’s their shot to chime in with their opinion.
As for my relationship, not much has changed. I call him fiance, uh, sometimes. I have a tiny rose gold band I wear on my left ring finger. But I am still Cassie. And he’s still Kyle. Sometimes we look at wedding pinterest boards together. And we joke about having a zombie themed wedding or wedding pie instead of wedding cake. But we are still – Cassie and Kyle. And chances are long after we say vows, we’ll still be Cassie and Kyle.
The way the Catholic church views marriage and love is so radically different than how the secular world typically views it. I knew this coming into Catholicism, but it never felt quite so visceral and personal. I’ll be the first to say that people are called to many, many different things, and marriage is not something everyone is called to. But when I first announced my engagement to my professional acquaintances and friends, the reactions were usually a stifled “Congrats” followed by, “Don’t you think you should move in together first? You’ve only been dating for 2 years.”
Last night, I met with my women’s group at the church for the first time since the engagement. I encountered nothing but love and support. The Catholic church is gaining another union, let’s celebrate life and the beauty of love. All of the women were dying to know how it happened, I let out a sigh of relief at not just their approval, but their delight.
The church believes, hopes, and adores the sacrament of marriage. The fact that it gets it’s own sacrament speaks volumes. The church wants marriages to succeed. The message I have gotten from my priest and the people within my parish is, “You’re about to enter one of the scariest, but most exciting parts of your journey as a woman. Enjoy the good and look for love and support in the hard parts and we will be here. But we want you to enter a healthy, loving, union, because it’s one of the most beautiful things on earth.”
It means the world to me when I feel that support. You don’t get it a whole lot of other places. I find the secular world not only wants marriage to fail, but expects it. Prepares for it. Takes caution in the high possibility of it. “Take as many steps toward commitment without actually committing, because it will probably fail. And just in case things fall apart, you need an out.”
I’ve never felt so public in my life. (And I talk about cervical fluid openly, so that’s saying something.) Few have been openly critical to my face, but I can sense when someone doesn’t approve. I squirm, I begin to defend myself, I make loud sighs. But here’s the kicker, here’s what I really wish I could smile politely and say, “I don’t need to defend myself to anyone.”
And it’s true. I’m young, but my engagement doesn’t really need to do any defending. And quite frankly, I’d rather put my energy into my relationship, my career, or my next meal. You know the saying “If you don’t approve of gay marriage, don’t get gay married.”? Well if you don’t approve of young marriage, don’t get young married.