Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Stop pushing me down the aisle!

OK, I’ve had enough now. Maybe it’s my age. Maybe it’s catching up with old friends. Maybe it’s seeing people’s status updates on Facebook basking in the glory of their personal achievements. But, if one more person tells me what I should be doing with my life I swear I will be forced to blow a raspberry in their face before farting in their general direction.

Firstly, there is my relationship with the fella, aka Him Indoors. Him Indoors and I have been together for over seven years now. We have lived together for over three of them, and before that managed to maintain a long distance relationship before I dragged him kicking and screaming to London. During that time, we have survived unemployment, illness, bereavement, and our relationship is stronger than ever.

Aaaah, you might say. But here comes the hitch (excuse the pun). We have no plans to get married. He has never popped the question. Walking down the aisle is not a priority. OK, it will probably happen one day, but neither of us is in any hurry. And we are both quite happy about this. The problem is other people seem unable to grasp that this is an acceptable state of affairs. The conversation goes something like this:

Other person: So, how long have you and Him Indoors been together?
Me (smiling): Oh, just over seven years.
Other person (amazed look): Wow, that long? So, are you going to get married?
Me (still smiling): Nah, neither of us are that fussed to be honest.
Other Person (knowing look): Yeah, right. I bet you want him to propose really ...
Me (smile becoming a grimace): Nope. We are perfectly happy as we are.
Other Person (concerned look): Oh ... er ... so is everything OK?

Why? Why do people assume that just because we don’t feel the need to spunk all our savings on a flouncy dress and an over-priced fruit cake that there is a problem with our relationship?

Another classic came a couple of weeks ago when I went dancing with a friend and her boyfriend (whom, for the record, have been together for nearly as long as Him Indoors and me and, believe it or not, are also not married. Or engaged. Or having a baby.) Him Indoors didn’t come along.

Had we had a big bust up? No. Was I on the lookout for a bit of extracurricular activity? Certainly not. The truth is he doesn’t like dancing. But I do. So sometimes I go out dancing and he stays in with the Xbox (aka The Other Woman). On this occasion, I ran into a colleague. Whilst having a break from bopping, he asked where Him Indoors was. I happily explained our arrangement. He took a sharp intake of breath before changing the subject.

The following Monday at work he announced to the office that he had ran into me at a bar in Brixton. Without my man. Un-chaperoned. Glances were exchanged. I bit my tongue and glared at my computer screen.

So, apparently there is something terribly wrong with our relationship because we haven’t felt the need to run down the aisle, and we feel comfortable enough in ourselves not to have to spend every living second within sight of each other. But that isn’t where it ends.

At Christmas I met an old school friend who had just dropped baby number two. She clearly loves being a mum and has already managed to convince her hubby to have a third in the interest of conceiving a girl. So, baby number one happily being entertained by dad and baby number two happily chomping down some milk, she asked if Him Indoors and I were ever going to tie the knot. I gave my usual, well-practised response. She looked at me.

“Yes, but you will want to before you have kids, won’t you?”
I took a deep breath. “Mmm. Don’t think we will have kids.”
“What? OK, maybe not now, but you will one day. And you don’t want to leave it too late.”
I took another deep breath. “I don’t think I’ll ever want them. I just don’t feel the urge.”
She looked at me dumbstruck, then smiled reassuringly. “Oh, you’ll change your mind.”

Hang on. Don’t I know my own mind? OK, so fair enough, my maternal instinct may kick in any day, but right now I can quite safely say I have no urge whatsoever to add to the burden of this already over-populated planet. Why can’t people accept that my life doesn’t revolve around wanting to “settle down”?

And guess what? I am 30 ... and I don’t have a mortgage. Or a car. Nope, not even a cat. I am also still naive enough to do a job, not because it is in a field that pays particularly well, but because I believe in it and it is something I am passionate about. I am also likely to vote in the general election, not for Labour or the Tories, but for a party that I actually feel stands for what I stand for too. Not in protest, but because I refuse to vote for someone because they are “the lesser of two evils”.

Bloody minded? Maybe. But at least I know my own mind, what I want and what I don’t want. And if that doesn’t fit into your perfect little pre-conceived world, well, frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn. Read more by Shelly.