Got your attention, huh?

When I was a teenager, I was like most young girls. I read Tiger Beat and BOP magazine TigerBeat BOP magazineand dreamed about Jonathan Brandis and New Kids on the Block and other movie/TV/music stars. Cute was everything. Whenever I imagined being married in the future–well, quite honestly, I didn’t want a husband; I wanted to be Angela Bower, work in advertising, have a home in Connecticut and a penthouse in NYC, and have a fancy, pretty boyfriend who worked in fields like I didn’t quite understand, like venture capitalism or investment banking or stocks and bonds. And moonlighted as a singer or poet. It was light and fluffy, as dreams should be.

How things change. Being in my mid-30s. Living an adult life with bills and responsibilities and choices. Now, when I think of marriage and the future, the first thing that comes to mind is the dollar bill. (Or the pound, or the euro, etc. Look, I’m an international gal. Anyway…)

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those women that needs six figures in my life. I don’t care if my future husband is an accountant or a plumber. But I’ve got bills, ya’ll. And bills will come after we marry. As such, I need someone who will nicely fuse his paycheck with mine and make them eventually go away. Is that bad? Am I being superficial and money-hungry? I don’t think so. I’ve taken care of myself financially since I was in my early 20s. Dealing with finances won’t go away, but the idea of two people backing each other up financially is far more attractive to me than a cute face. Hey, physical attraction is important. Life would be extra, uh, interesting if the guy you’re sharing your life with looks like a resident of the Black Lagoon (or we look like that to each other). In the end, however, I just don’t have those particular stars in my eyes anymore. Share my faith, undoubtedly; love me, oh, yes; make the butterflies jump and dance in my belly, absolutely; be able to support our family financially, yes, yes, yes. And yes.

When people tell me about “available” menfolk in their lives and how they’d like to introduce me to them, the first thing I think about is whether they’re employed. This is a far cry from my 20s, when I was far more concerned with the way one guy’s hair seemed to curl so beautifully in the front or the dimple in that other’s one cheek or… You get my drift. Times and what I consider important have changed. Some say that when a woman meets a man, she looks past the moment and into the future at what their lives will be like. I agree with this because I do it. While I believe men largely stay in the present, women look ahead at what you will be, what we will be, and whether we’ll be living with your parents.

From time to time, I think back to those days of afternoons on the sofa in our basement, surrounded by my glossy teen magazines and reading them like they were historical tomes. That girl was not thinking about 401Ks and renting vs. buying and how that pesky school loan will never go away unless we donate our first child to the Department of Education. This woman is, though. Just saying.

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