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Every little girl dreams about the white dress, the ring, and of course the groom. But as of a few years ago, I retired that dream entirely. After a series of failed relationships, I was under no circumstance looking for a committed relationship, let alone the white picket fence. I was completely content with my apartment, new puppy, and gym addicted life style- what more could a girl need?

Then along came AJ. In all respects he was the one that got away. In college we were buddies, and we tap danced around the fact that we were both in relationships during those years- we shared a few clandestine moments in my dorm and his west Philly condo (sorry Ashely and Bill- but you’re both married now, so all’s well that ends well, right?). But to my dismay, nothing serious ever evolved back then, at least nothing beyond a solid friendship. So when we started chatting again, I was thrilled with the chance at a real date.

That first real date turned into an entire weekend, and a few weeks later he packed up his stuff and we somehow found a way to cram it all into my one bedroom place. From there came a bigger place, new jobs and a distinctly intertwined life. We share a space, bank accounts and things- we own kitchen gadgets, pets, furniture together. If a ring suddenly appeared on my finger tomorrow, would it change one thing about our daily lives? Not one bit.

As a result of our year and a half relationship, my desire for the white picket fence and all of it’s accoutrements has reared its ugly head once again. To the point of secret pinterest boards, and lofty web searches for the perfect ring. But alas, the man who captured my heart has no desire for marriage- no understanding of how a piece of paper can validate our feelings- and as I stated just in the previous paragraph, it wouldn’t change our lives a bit- except that it would.

I can’t quantify the reasons why its important, why husband and wife is so different than just Jessa and AJ. But it just is. As an atheist and agnostic, we don’t associate the typical religious or spiritual ideologies with matrimony- so those justifications don’t hold any water. I guess I just see it as a commitment, a binding agreement, in front of family and friends to navigate life together. To be, and create a family. But could we do those things without wedding vows? Yes. Are we already doing some of those things? Yes.

As each day passes, and more Facebook friends change their relationship statuses to “engaged”, do I resign myself to be forever “in a relationship”? AJ isn’t heartless, he is a good strong man, who is in fact willing to do the marriage thing- for me. But can a wedding really hold the significance its supposed to when the groom’s heart’s not in it?

Until Later,

Jessa Jay

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