Author | Photos Tamara Menzi

The Feminist Wedding Diaries: Getting Married Doesn’t Mean You Have To Settle Down

On occasion, a well-meaning individual who has recently learned of my engagement tells me, “Oh Sarah, it’s so nice to see you settling down!” While it is intended to be sweet and supportive, this remark sounds weird to me. Why? Well, because I’m not settling down, I’m getting married. I have come to understand that settling down and getting married are two separate things – two separate things that do not necessarily go hand in hand.

Now, I do not wish to insult anyone who chooses the settling down route; however, to me, settling down means establishing a routine, committing to a particular path, and deviating from said path as little as possible. Settling down means putting down roots that compromise your options, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just not what I’m doing by getting married.

The truth is, yes, getting married legally binds me to one person, but that doesn’t bind the two of us to a certain kind of life, emphasis on certain. Since getting engaged, most areas of my life have become less certain, not more so. I have started a ton of new ventures, putting myself out there far more often than I used to. For example, I recently started recording a weekly podcast about popular culture called Canadian Idle with my friend Joanna Adams. I also finally got up the gumption to pitch a young adult novel I co-wrote to publishers. It was a nerve-wracking process, but one that ultimately paid off. On what will go down in history as one of the best freaking days of my life, our book, Good Girls, was accepted for publication by Inanna Press. I’m tickled pink to say it will be released this coming fall. All in all, I’m trying new things and putting myself out there every day.

My partner’s unwavering support is one of the things that has helped me take more chances. Growing up, I may have been the only teen in the world whose mother gave her a stern lecture about how she needed to take more risks. As a youth, I rarely stepped out of my comfort zone. I was too scared to tell a boy I liked him or to wear a bikini in public. I was a meek individual who regularly missed opportunities to do things she would have loved to do, all because I didn’t want to make myself vulnerable, ever.

Getting older and more mature has assisted in the process of getting over my fear of risk-taking. Reminding myself I have a really solid support network of people, who will not judge me should I fail, has been a particularly important strategy for convincing myself to take chances. My fiancé is one solid pillar of that support system. The act of agreeing to marry each other is a commitment that reassured me we as a couple are invested in being there for one another in the long-term. Just as he has me to help him get through any of life’s challenges, I have him too. I find that knowledge both comforting and empowering. Overall, my relationship with my partner has made me a bit more experimental, and a whole lot braver.

While getting married is by no means the only way to increase one’s tenacity, my fiancé and I work together to make each other stronger. We are a team. In fact, we are the best, most functional team I’ve been on since my high school debate team! When I told my fiancé I wanted to start a podcast, he personally volunteered to edit it, and when I told him about my lifelong dream to be a published YA author, he never balked. He had absolute faith I had stories worth telling, and that I’d find a publisher who believed in me as much as he did. My fiancé has never pressured me to settle down and follow a calmer path. He knows I’d never forgive myself if I stopped exploring my ambition.

Being with my fiancé has taught me many things. But the most important thing I’ve learned is perhaps this: in a truly feminist and egalitarian relationship, the best partners will encourage you to do the things you want to do. That means they’ll support your dreams, even when you aren’t exactly sure how you’ll accomplish them yet.

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