One week from today, I’ll be married! It’ll be almost five years to the day that my first marriage ended and up until six months ago, I never thought I’d see this day.
People have asked me, “why get married again?” While I think it’s a rude question that in some way diminishes the importance of the commitment I’m about to make and damns my upcoming marriage to the same fate as the first one, I can’t say I haven’t asked myself the same question. After my divorce, I swore off marriage, believing that the only thing marriage changes is that you’re likely to stay longer than you probably should have and that you need a court date in order to break-up. To some degree, I still believe that. Marriage is old fashioned in so many ways and while I love vintage everything, I don’t usually do old fashioned.
But I like the idea of marriage. I’ve never been into casual dating. When I got back into the dating pool it was with the intention of finding my life partner, and I was relentless in weeding through the prospects. My email to first date ratio was less than 1% and my first to second date ratio was much lower. An attractive, financially secure, childfree woman with an established career is a catch and I knew I was a commodity. And I knew that I could survive just fine on my own, even in a foreign country.
I joke that my bullshit tolerance is a lot lower these days than it was in my twenties. Yes, that means that I’m what some people have called “a picky bitch” but it also means that I won’t settle for anything less than the best for me, which in the long-term sets the marriage up for success. I choose marriage because I want it, not because I’m afraid of the alternative.
I want to come home to Robert, to laugh and dream with him… and even to argue with him from time to time because my life is better with him in it than with him not in it. It’s good to see things in ways I wouldn’t have otherwise considered and it makes me become a better, wiser, more compassionate person. It’s totally possible to have those things without a covenant but it’s a sweet and beautiful thing to say to someone, “I love you and I want you in my life until death parts us and I’m willing to make a vow to you and to sign a promise saying so.”
I understand that now in a way I didn’t when I was twenty-five. Back then I got married because it was the next logical step in the life script. I didn’t agonize over it, I can’t even recall vaguely questioning it or asking myself if it’s what I wanted and why.
Finding someone at nineteen and expecting to spend a lifetime with him was somewhat naive. I didn’t know who I was then or what I wanted for my life and in time we changed and grew in different directions and we’d eventually stopped knowing each other, or caring to know each other. I’d cry in my car all the way to work and all the way back because I was so frustrated with how my life was unfolding and I just couldn’t seem to make it all fit together in any way that would work. I loved my first husband and there were moments of sweetness right up until the day I left for Denmark, but our inability to function as a team with shared dreams and goals left me with a perpetual feeling of having been punched in the stomach. It was best for both of us to move on as friends.
From taking me to Lake Como to propose with an antique ring, to buying me vinyl records for Christmas, to knowing exactly when I need a martini, or when it’s a glass of wine, to playing old school Madonna at just the right moment, to knowing when to shut up and let me be, to the cups of tea he makes for me in the morning, Robert gets me… and we have big plans for our future.
He also challenges me. Having been adamantly childfree my whole adult life, the fact that he’s a father was so many times nearly our undoing. As a rule, I didn’t date anyone with children, but I knew from our first conversation that Robert should be an exception. Still, it wasn’t easy.
Robert has the patience of a saint and he gave me the space I needed to decide if I could take this on, and he lets me choose to what extent I’m involved. We have found a family dynamic that works and I miss The Oik when he’s not around and look forward to the weeks that he’s with us. I even went to one of his football matches this past Sunday and felt so very proud of what a good defender he is. Actually, I don’t know the first thing about football, but he can do no wrong in my eyes ;-)
And I challenge Robert. As an Englishman, he’s not entirely comfortable with my mostly four lettered New York vernacular or my straightforward approach to certain situations, or my sometimes hostile attitude towards living here at the moment. He’s more of a dog person than a big orange cat person. But he lets me be me and he takes such good care of Opie and I love him a little more for it all the time, and like he says, “there’s just something about English guys and American girls.”
When we first started discussing wedding plans, I asked Robert what he wanted and he said, “a ring on my finger and you as my wife.” Of course I hope for a flawless wedding day, but most importantly, I hope that I’ll be the partner he deserves and I hope that the experience and heartache that we each bring has made us strong enough, wise enough, and determined enough to make this marriage last a lifetime. Somehow, I think we will.