From the Desk of Andrea Garcia, Photo Editor

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From the Desk of Andrea Garcia, Photo Editor

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(The Ram Archives)

By Andrea Garcia 

We grow up with a conventional expectation that you go to high school prom, complete your college degree and find a career to set you up through retirement. Somewhere along the way, you’re meant to find the right person to climb all the other steps of life with you. So, you spend thousands of dollars on the Disney wedding you’ve been planning for — because your prince (or princess) finally came. The overly-elaborate wedding cake is topped with the cherry of a marriage certificate as functional as a framed college diploma. However, there’s a stigma that follows choosing to hide from the bandwagon of Pinterest wedding boards and the greedy $54 billion industry. Is it so cynical to believe that someone could aspire for a happily-ever-after alone?

Well, I do.

I’m not saying that I don’t believe in love and relationships, but I don’t think it’s always possible to be with someone for the rest of one’s lifetime. It shouldn’t be so hard to believe when according to the Huffington Post, divorce rates are only now crawling down, a percentage at a time, from over 50 percents after a 25 year spike, and yes, that does now include Brangelina. But the reason for this — that us millennials started getting married at later points of our lives — shows us how people find successes in other aspects of life outside of relationships. Simply put, there are slightly fewer marriages happening in our generation, and older generations need to understand why.

Prioritizing other facets of life, such as an education, over marriage should not be seen as selfish. As the average age of married couples continues to get higher, so heightens the level of education women pursue. This includes law and medical professional degrees. Speaking as a girl who took notes from Elle Woods, I too would prioritize my law degree over marrying Warner. Establishing one’s professional life is something everyone should ardently pursue, single or not. If I spend six or seven years in school to acquire a law degree, then it’s my focus afterward to put my education to use.

Shame on anyone who would try to convince their significant other differently; that just isn’t love.

But so it also goes that people simply change as time goes by. The average age to meet “the one” is somewhere between 17 to 25 years old. That’s only in the first quarter of an individual’s expected lifespan. For better or for worse, the person you fell in love with is not the person they grow to be in the other three quarters of life. And sure, part of marriage is vowing to develop with and to cherish that person anyway, but why make a promise you can’t necessarily keep?

If both sides of a relationship truly support each other as individuals and share a strong enough bond to last a lifetime, then that commitment shouldn’t need the validation of a marriage certificate.

The patriarchal institution itself has become outdated as the traditional roles of marriage are dissolving. Long gone are the days of “honey, I’m home!” and deciding who will bring the kids from school to soccer while chugging coffee on the way out the door. Just like there are failed legal marriages, there exists successful relationships who don’t confine themselves to a marital status.

What has to change is this idea that marriage is a milestone everyone should reach. I would be happier with a successful career that I can ultimately control than with a relationship that may or may not last. That shouldn’t be looked down upon, and it shouldn’t equate me with some lonely aunt from a Lifetime movie. It only means I have my lifetime to focus on MY happily ever after.