This week, Barack and Michelle Obama celebrated their twentieth wedding anniversary. That’s a marriage that’s lasted almost as long as I’ve been alive, and that’s something that’s really worth celebrating, especially when the couple in question are still as obviously in love as the President and his First Lady.
But I’m not even 23 yet. I don’t need to think about those kinds of things at this point in my life. Do I?
No, I don’t. But there are plenty of young men and women my age (and younger) who are thinking about making a life-long commitment to their partner. I’ve lost count of the number of people I know from my country NSW high school who are married, engaged or already have kids.
While that may have been the path they’ve chosen for themselves, I’m not personally ready for that degree of responsibility. I’m young, I’m single, and that’s more than okay by me, even if I do have my moments where I tell social media otherwise. It’s a good situation for me to be in at this point in my life.
Marriage and kids have never been high on my agenda, but the older I get, the more susceptible I get to the incredible levels of cuteness that can emanate from a happy couple.
I can’t help it. I admire the idea of a strong, working marriage.
I’m really lucky in that my family has a long history of strong marriages. My parents will have been married for 25 years this November. My maternal grandparents were married for over 50 years, until my Grandma passed away. I’ve been blessed to see in my own life the power of the strong, loving friendship that makes a long-lasting marriage.
The most recent example that springs to mind is Amy Pond and Rory Williams from Doctor Who, whose recent departure is still a deep wound in my heart. They face one thing after another, be it extra-terrestrial shenanigans or something a little more everyday, and they face it with guts and aplomb and together. Even in their farewell episode, they were in it together, forever and always. They never lost their sense of humour, and their love for each other was always the driving force, even when it all looked like it could all fall to pieces. How could you not admire a couple like that?
But marriage doesn’t always have to be the conventional one-house-two-cars-three-kids nuclear family. One of the greatest marriages I’ve come across in my internet jaunts is that of Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer. This is a couple that only spends a total of a couple of months a year together (thanks to touring commitments and other reasons), and yet still manages to keep the flame alive via blogs, phone calls, text messages and the most adorable Twitter conversations you have ever read. And yet, when you see them in the same room as each other, they are still obviously head over heels infatuated with each other.
Outside of the realm of my own personal experience and the world of fame and fiction are even more tales of marriage that impress me beyond words. A friend of mine once told me about a couple he knew, both of whom were bi-sexual. Both husband and wife openly engaged in sex with their own gender, but when it came to heterosexual relations, they always came back home to roost. It was a bit Meet the Fockers, but at the same time, it was one of the most incredibly endearing love stories I’d heard, because the love and trust at the core of their relationship was what drove them through their everyday lives, while still allowing them the room to be themselves. It was the most perfect example of romantic give and take I’d ever heard of.
These are the kinds of couples you can imagine growing old together and loving every minute of it. They are the ones who hold hands when they walk out to dinner for the millionth time; these are the ones who get annoyed at their lover’s flaws before smiling about it and remembering that those flaws are actually part of their charm; these are the couples who you can see are totally comfortable in each others presence. No two relationships are the same, and a good chunk don’t fit the model that society imagines they should, and some aren’t even legal marriages (by choice or not), but it’s hard not to romanticise what they’ve got as the ultimate ideal – loving and being loved in return.
While marriage isn’t particularly high on my ‘Things I Must Do’ list, finding someone I could spend the rest of my life with is, in a way. I’m not in any rush, but to experience the love and support that I have been blessed to see in the lives of others is certainly something I’d like in my own life. But like Amy Pond, I’m happy to be The Girl Who Waited.
Edit: Thank you so much to Neil Gaiman, who retweeted my call out for Twitter screencaps (despite it being a kind of weird request) and to all those who helped out with links, especially Nicole Connors.