I have something shocking to tell you. It will go against most of what you have seen on TV. Read in books. Watched in films. Ladies, I am here to tell you...it's okay to get married for the first time...at age 41.
How do I know this? Well...that 41-year-old, first time bride is none other than myself. In four days I will be walking down the aisle behind my bridesmaids who are now closing in on their 20-year wedding anniversaries. My father has long since passed away, and none of my grandparents survived to see this day. But the day is finally upon me. And I couldn't be happier.
The best part of waiting to get married is that you have a better sense of who you are...at least that is the case with me. I was recently asked if my future husband completes me. I said, "No. He enhances who I have already become." I don't think that anyone should complete you (sorry, Jerry Maguire). I think you need to be in space where your life is complete with or without a man. Now, don't get me wrong. It took me years to learn this lesson. I bought into all of the Disney and Hollywood myths (and I'm here to tell you that women still do, which is a big problem...but, hey, they're making millions, so why change now?).
Now I do know couples who are still happily married straight out of college, and I've dated some good men in my life (okay, maybe two or three). I even came close to being engaged twice. But I wasn't comfortable in my own skin. My self-esteem took years to solidify especially when it came to who I dated. My father was a very dominant man, and our home was the stereotypical 50's household, but there was violent behavior and there was a lesson in female submission that needed to be unlearned. I'm not proud of some of the decisions I made when it came to men, or some of my behavior, but I didn't know better. And then I learned better. And it took years of my time.
But the time was not wasted. I didn't sit in the corner and cry (okay, sometimes, but my friends eventually pulled me up and took me out for ice cream). I knew that I could not control if or when someone would come into my life. But what I could control was how I lived it. So I decided to go to graduate school. To spend time with my father's family after his death. Seven years passed in Acadiana, and I wouldn't trade one minute of that experience. I wrote, I met lifelong friends, I earned my Ph.D., I leaped over barricades to catch Mardi Gras beads...well, that's a story for another post.
And when I graduated I got a job at TCU (where I am still teaching to this day), and I love every minute of my job (well, sometimes when the papers pile above my head, you will hear me grumble from behind them). It was around that time that I started to have friends buzz in my ear, "Have you tried online dating? Try online dating!" Lord. Really? That's for desperate people. What if I end up with some creepy dude in cyberspace who stalks my apartment past midnight? But after about a year of that buzz, I took the plunge. And four creepy guys later, I met Kevin...one week before my subscription would expire on eHarmony...on my birthday.
Three years later, two beautiful step-kids, and one amazing man later, here we are...four days before our wedding.
I'm here to tell you that the number of days it takes you to get married is trivial. Live your life. Don't waste it wondering why it's not turning out one way or another. That's not something that you can control. What you can control is your own happiness. And if the right person comes along, whatever age that happens at, you will be ready. And if he doesn't, that's okay, too...despite what your mother says.
So if you see a 41-year-old bride on the road this weekend, her veil blowing in the Texas breeze, don't be afraid. It's just me. It's taken me some time, I took the long way around, but I'm finally getting to the chapel.
And it's my turn to say, "I do."