In the course of meeting someone new, like a coworker or a friend of a friend, one of the first things I'm asked is, "why did you move to New Jersey?" After explaining that my boyfriend found a job here and after two and a half years of long-distance we were ready to be in the same place, the new person will inevitably respond, "He better put a ring on your finger soon."
This statement creates such a whirlwind of emotions. Frustration: this move will only be "worth it" if he marries me. Disbelief: would you want someone to marry you out of obligation instead of feelings/commitment/desire to? Sadness: this person does not recognize my ability to choose a path nor do they see the personal growth that comes from this type of decision. So, let me lay out my feelings on the subject.
I am incredibly lucky to be in my relationship and to be so deeply cared for by another person. I am also incredibly lucky to have friends and family that supported me to take this risk. But, here's the thing: it's my risk. Keith didn't force me to move here. I was the one who said, "I'm going to move to New Jersey." While he was the only thing drawing me towards New Jersey, it was my decision.
Even though I've only been in New Jersey for six months, I have gained so much. I've grown as a person as I've learned how to stand on my own feet, conquering goals I never thought I'd accomplish (riding the NYC subway alone? check! Living without a car? check!) I've learned to take care of myself. I'm learning how to get by on less. I'm learning how to make new friends as an adult. These skills will last a lifetime, regardless of who I marry.
And, frankly, I don't want someone to marry me because they feel obligated or guilty or like they have to. I want someone to marry me because they want to marry me.