We are engaged. Usually it comes out like this: “We're engaged!!!” Admittedly, I have been smiling for five months almost non-stop. Wedding planning is in full swing. Save-the-dates have been mailed, the reception and rehearsal dinner sites are secured, and china is selected. My father, the florist, has a zillion ideas and I think he’s planning to line the church aisle with arrangements on the pews that are five feet tall. (I’m serious.)
I’m excited. I’m 33 and have finally found my true love. He is the only man I have ever dated who has not tried to change me in some way. He loves me for me, with my impatience and my closet full of shoes. He doesn’t mind that I ask him to open the fridge by the handle because I don’t want to have to clean the stainless door again before the real estate agent shows the house. He rolls with my crazy ideas and supports my daydreams of opening a bakery someday. He comes to church. He loves my kitties more than I love his dogs.
I want to be married to this man. I cannot wait. So why do I have these momentary flashes, zings, and fears about not being single anymore?
My mom says that when I was four, I put my hands on my hips and proclaimed loudly, “I DO IT!” I guess that’s it. I have always done it. I have gone after whatever seemed to be important to me at the time. I do what I want, when I want. I can take care of myself. I LOVE the single life. I love my house (which is up for sale) and happy hour crowd (whom I don’t see as much now) and runs in the morning. I love working late when I need to and eating Rice Krispie treats for dinner.
Of course, there has been the discussion about changing my last name. I like Jarvis. It’s served me well for this long. I’m happy to keep it. My fiancé doesn’t agree. For a bunch of reasons many of you probably know, he wants me to change it. I’ve agreed. I’m happy with it. I’ll use it as an excuse to buy new towels and LL Bean tote bags.
Over the 4th of July, we had friends down to my beloved’s house (soon to be our house) for a cookout. It was great fun to be the engaged couple throwing a party. One of our friends, Elizabeth, asked us if we had thought about our wedding invitations. She works in a stationery store and was offering to help in any way she could. This reminded me that I had a question about how to address our invitations.
“The Rev. and Mr. —-“, she replied.
Seriously? Yes. Apparently, the person with the title goes before the one without. It was a moment of sheer triumph. “Ha!” I said loudly. The Rev. and Mr.! Yes! While my sweetie does have a master’s degree, his didn’t come with a title. I know it’s silly to be so happy about this newfound information. I have enjoyed slipping “The Rev. and Mr.” into conversations with my fiancé on occasion. It makes me giggle. Usually he just responds with his last name to make sure I remember that’s what comes next. He’s a good man.
I like it though—The Rev. and Mr. Thanks, Elizabeth and etiquette gurus. In some small way, it reminds me that even though I am getting married and changing my name, I am not suddenly required to give up my individuality and personal style. I am not deferring to anyone; rather I am joining this amazing man on this beautiful journey.
I have shared some of my single clergy experiences in the Single Rev column, more often than not anonymously. It is hard to be a single clergy person. It is lonely at times, and people are nosy. It’s awkward to see a vestry member at a restaurant with their spouse when you are a few tables away on a date. Parishioners don’t know how to invite one person over for dinner. I have been asked to share a room with parishioners on overnight events to save money. I am sure I am not alone in these struggles.
As I enter the land of the married, I am truly grateful for having been single for so long. I know that no matter what happens along the road of marriage, I can care for myself. I also know I have the capacity for great love and devotion, because I have for so long experienced them through the church, fellow “clergy chicks,” and friends outside the church. Single life is good life. It is shared life. It is full life. I pray that married life is the same—good, shared and full.
However, I might just have some stationery engraved with “The Rev. and Mr.” just to remind myself how lucky I am to be both an individual and part of a couple.