Tying the knot is a decision not to be taken lightly, so why do so many people expect you to rush into it as soon as you happen to have a ring on your finger?

On the morning of May 22, 2015, my partner did the bravest thing by proposing to me in the middle of the newsroom where I was working as a journalist.

He is quite a private person, so you can imagine how daunting it must have been for him to let everyone in on his business, when he nervously walked into our building, with a huge bouquet of sunflowers (my favourite flower!) in one hand, and the stunning ring, which he bought while visiting his mother in the UK the year before, bulging from his front pocket.

From the moment I said yes, the inevitable question came: “So… when is the big day?”

By the time we got engaged, we had been friends for over five years and dating for over a year. We knew that we wanted to marry each other, something we had discussed when we defined our relationship on our first date.

What we did not anticipate, however, were the life-changing events that adulting would toss into the fine print of our happily-ever-after, including the birth of our son (our hearts in human form), unemployment, job changes and moving house.

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My partner and I had challenges dealing with his two years of unemployment; a decision we both made. He found a job in retail this year, something both of our families are grateful for, although his job is in Pretoria, and mine, which is in local government, has me based in Johannesburg. We are also long-distance parents: our three-year-old son lives in Kimberley with my family.

All of these life-changing events made us realise it will take us a little longer to tie the knot, which is perfectly fine with us, because we are already committed to each other.

It is wise to rather stay in the lane you are in, and continue to focus on what is important – the destination you are driving towards

But this has not stopped the people around us from asking about our wedding plans when they hear that we are engaged.

Firstly, I have tons of baby weight I want to lose before I can even think of our ‘big day’. Secondly, work and living expenses have forced us to live six hours away from our son, and one hour away from each other.

Lastly, we both want my partner’s mother, who is based in London, to attend our wedding, and flights from London are not cheap.

Marriage is a big step

All of this aside, marriage is a big step, and while we are ready to spend the rest of our lives together, we want to do it the way we want to, together.

Recently, at a relative’s funeral, my cousins approached us with so much concern, you’d think someone else had died, and asked how “serious” we were about our commitment. We shrugged it off and told them to “wait and see”.

I know people love festivities, but we are not about to put unnecessary pressure on ourselves to appease other people, who are likely to only care about the free food and alcohol at our wedding, and not about our marriage.

I admit it has been difficult seeing many of my peers get engaged and married in a short space of time, but life does not unfold in the same way for everyone.

It has been important for us to stay grounded during our four-year engagement, and our immediate family and close friends understand and respect our decision to take things at our own pace, according to our means.

The love and respect we have for each other has made it possible to stay true to our commitment and the kind of future that we want as a family.

We know what we want to achieve as partners, parents and individuals, before turning to society for an official seal of approval

We tend to allow ourselves to feel pressure from people around us, which is not always wise if you are already travelling at a high speed in life.

It is wise to rather stay in the lane you are in, and continue to focus on what is important – the destination towards which you are driving.

Article by Poppy Louw, first published on Change Exchange.