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30 July 2010

Labels. Ehh.

It’s funny how much importance people put on labels.  Whether it’s the kind of coffee they drink, the clothes they wear, or even their job title, people can get completely inflated or bent out of shape because of a simple label.

I’m sure you guys know what I’m talking about.  But recently I’ve had quite a direct experience with the ways in which people assign meaning to labels.

When J and I were going through the process of applying to prequalify for a mortgage, I had to fill out paperwork.  Stacks and stacks of paperwork.  One of the first questions offered a few seemingly innocuous boxes about my marital status.  Of course, I checked Single, which I think is kind of funny considering single isn’t a label that I apply to myself, personally.

During my first phone conversation with our loan officer, he asked in a somewhat surprised (and judgmental tone), “So, you and J aren’t married?”  Well, no.  We’re not.  So?

He alluded to some potential problems that could arise when a home is bought by an unmarried couple.  I kindly but directly shot back something about, “Is this an issue because we aren’t married?” and he backed down a bit.

Similarly, at my new job I’ve told some coworkers that I’m in the process of buying a house with my boyfriend.  One was so bold as to say, “So you’re not married and you’re going to buy a house together?”  What’s that about?  Is it because they wouldn’t personally do what I’m doing?  Is it because they feel less secure about themselves because they wouldn’t do it and therefore need to question me about it?  I just don’t get it.  Why would other people care?

And, to be honest, in my little slice of the world, I don’t see how a relationship lacking a marriage certificate and a marriage are much different.*  And granted, I’ve never been married, so what do I really know?**  J and I are totally committed to each other.  We’re buying a house together, after all.  We have dogs.  We have things.  We have each other.

And the way I look at a marriage is really a relationship with a huge celebration and a goregous white dress thrown in there somewhere.  I’m totally down for that and can’t wait to get engaged and married, but I think if I didn’t get engaged and married, my relationship with J would continue on just the same.  So why do people get so hung up on the label of “boyfriend” when I say I’m buying a house with him?

It doesn’t bother me much because I don’t care much what the people making those judgements think.  Sounds harsh, but that’s how you have to respond to things like that, right?

What other labels are frustrating on a personal level?  I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way.

*I’m not saying that they aren’t different for other people and couples, so don’t take this as my blanket opinion of everyone’s lives.

**This evokes that standard scene in movies where the parent yells at the child who is making an assumption or judgment about cheating or some other indecency.  Which I think is probably pretty true.  How could you know if you haven’t experienced it?

One Comment leave one →
  1. 30 July 2010 2:22 pm

    They are fools. Not to say that weddings are just a formality, but they kind of are. They mean something very beautiful and it’s a nice, bold statement… but with or without the wedding the values and meaning of marriage can still be shared by a couple.

    I’ve gotten a bit of marriage advice around here that sounds just as negative as the feedback you’ve gotten about home buying- and it’s stupid. People are projecting their own insecurities and judgment on others because they’re 1.) not properly socialized 2.) stupid and 3.) well, stupid should count for two of those reasons. I “met” a woman through her blog and she bought her home on her own while she was still just dating her husband. When she told me that my first thought was- how powerful, how encouraging, how cool! You don’t need a marriage license, or a mortgage, or anything saying you and J are tied together- you let each other know that you’re committed every day when you say ‘i love you.’ All that other stuff is just so others know how to value you or treat you. So, so dumb.

    Ef them 🙂

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