“I WANTED TO GET MARRIED FOR THE STATUS”
She loved him. She wanted to spend the rest of her life with him. But that’s not why she married him.
two proseccos deep into the 87th wedding I’d attended one summer, it got to this point: If one more person asked, “So will you be next?” I was going to overturn a charcuterie bar.
I was capital-o obsessed with getting engaged. My boyfriend and I were coming up on our four-year mark. I was 27; he 32. We loved each other. We lived together. Marriage was the next logical step. At least, this was how I added it up for Greg, more times than I would like to admit (“Jess, it’s coming,” became his exasperated party line).
But I had another motivation for pressuring him to propose. In my mind, an engagement ring was a talisman that rendered its wearer invincible, and—i’m not proud of this—i wanted it more than I wanted to marry the man I love.
I was never the Girl With the Boyfriend. I attended a tony high school in an affluent suburb of Philadelphia. My family, while comfortable financially, didn’t come from the same storied bloodline as many of my peers, and with my big boobs and too-blonde hair, I stood out. I was a Marilyn in a sea of Jackies, a slut, a skank. I comforted myself with food, and by college, I gained 20 pounds. I didn’t feel comfortable getting naked with anyone, so I went from slut to asexual sidekick.
But I shed both skins after I graduated and moved to New York City. There, I landed a job I loved, lost the extra weight, and then met Greg. My life was coming together the way I’d hoped, but it wasn’t enough. As I eyed the sparkly rings on the most “together” women I knew, getting proposed to seemed synonymous with “I made it.” With a quick flash of my left hand, I could communicate not only that I had arrived but that I was no longer the un-fuckable chubby girl in my group of gorgeous friends. When Greg proposed, a week before my 28th birthday, I was elated— and then I promptly panicked. Did I want this for the right reasons?
I met with a therapist to wrap my head around the doubt. “You crave valida- tion,” she told me, “because you didn’t get it when you were younger.”
I exhaled, relieved to hear that she considered my relationship otherwise sound. But I wanted to know how to stop it. “You don’t,” she said. “It’s part of your blueprint. Sometimes we just have to sit with the things that make us feel bad and wait for them to pass.”
So I do that. I let it hurt when I remember the day someone wrote “trash whore” across my locker’s face. I let it sting when I think of how a thin, pretty friend hooked up with my college crush. Sometimes, I catch girls eyeing my ring, and I want to tell them that getting married didn’t rebrand me or complete me. It did teach me that nothing—not the perfect platinum talisman or the greatest guy who married me despite the fact that I went a little crazy— can alleviate that old ache I carry around inside me. That’s something I have to do on my own, and I’m working on it. Knoll’s novel, luckiest girl alive, is out this month.
THE r In g , THE SHOE S , A n D… OH, Y e AH… THE g room .