By Nicolle

This week, in a conversation about engagements, a regular blog reader commented to me, “You hate that stuff.” By “stuff,” he meant marriages, engagements, bachelorette parties, wedding showers, wedding ceremonies, receptions and diamond rings. I responded defensively and got slightly upset that he’d think such a (in my mind) false thing. “You write a blog about it,” he continued. “About hating that stuff.”

Let me take this opportunity to clarify: While I do wholeheartedly believe in what I write and have written on this blog, I do not “hate” marriage, engagements and/or celebrations involving nuptials. Yes, my tone may tend toward the more realistic, cynical and occasionally sarcastic, but it comes out of a desire to see my generation’s relationships improve upon the hollow and sometimes destructive models we’ve been culturally handed.

And, my own realism is born out of a place of fear. I’ve never seen a healthy marriage model. The marriages closest to me involve infidelity, codependency, unmet expectations, loneliness, depression, emotional abuse and conditional love.

How’s that for something to shoot for?

Because I lack a healthy marriage model, I’m at a total disadvantage if I’m ever in a position to decide to get married. Since the likelihood I’ll marry before I die is extremely high (nine out of 10 Americans marry at some point in their lives), my fear is only compounded. And since I know my learning style and personality need systems and models and directions for even things as messy as relationships, my fear is increased again, this time to an exponential level. So to combat that fear, I spend my free time researching relationships and blogging about those findings while also trying to be self-aware about my faults and how my baggage could mess up my relationships. But no matter how much I learn, I’m still scared.

by Eric Johnson

I know marriage isn’t all sunshine, unicorns and rainbows – I’ve seen it. So, if some of the people I admire most in my life don’t have healthy marriages, how can I expect my (potential) marriage to be any different?

To make things even worse, I’ve recently admitted to myself that I have a desire to be married. Not long ago, I considered myself above the masses of females dying for a ring and a lifelong commitment. But I only put myself in that ivory tower because it’s easier to pretend you don’t desire something than to admit that you’re afraid that desire will never be fulfilled. That no one will pick you. That you’ll end up alone, with three cats, a box of (gluten-free) macaroni and cheese and a bad Katherine Heigl romcom on a weekend, while all your married friends bond with their soulmates on Caribbean cruises.

Yes, that image might be a cliché, but seeing relationships and engagements blossom around me in the last year puts life in perspective for me: Eventually, all my best friends will be hitched and there’s a chance that I’ll be the only single one. Everyone else will have a new, built-in best friend while I’m left searching for any friend at all.

While the odds are in my favor that I’ll eventually get married, the fear of being alone isn’t halted. Plus, the fear of screwing up a marriage if I ever have one hangs in the air like an angry storm cloud. It’s a catch-22; neither option seems like the better option.

So, I‘ll continue with my realism, my blog and my fear. Maybe embracing what scares me and acknowledging that there’s space to mess up will eventually lead me to a healthy, happy marriage. And if it doesn’t, at least I know I was honest with myself – and that Katherine Heigl will always have an audience of one.