When I was approached to write a companion piece to Sarah Marcus’s wonderful post, Why I Didn’t Get Married, I was apprehensive. How could I share my own experience of why I am getting married without over-romanticizing and sounding cliché? I only want to be honest in sharing what I feel is a right next step in my relationship without pushing the institution of marriage as an agenda.
I never imagined a dream wedding when I was younger, and in fact, I didn’t really picture myself as the kind of girl to necessarily get married. I was more of a tom boy growing up, concerned with playing travel basketball and going to Red Sox games with my dad. Perhaps, I inherited this disconnect between me and marriage. After all, my grandmother told my grandfather “no” on several occasions when he proposed until finally one of the nuns told her that he’d eventually stop asking. My sister dated my brother-in-law for more than ten years before deciding to make it official. Of course, my family has provided wonderful models of marriage filled with unconditional love, including my parents who will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary in July.
Maybe I should begin with the highly romantic “how we met” story. I met Peter (my fiancé) in Boston at a college bar, where Peter and his friend Dave hosted a trivia night. (Plug:) If you’re ever in Boston, check out Sweetwater on Tuesday nights for trivia (Dave is still hosting). After much flirting post-trivia nights and collusion from my roommate Kaitlin, he asked me out on a date. Only it was via text message. I texted him back with a diatribe saying, in short, ask me out in person. Only I am technologically challenged and the lengthy text cut off about half way. Peter didn’t know if I was annoyed and wanted nothing to do with him, or if I happily accepted, until the next week when I saw him at trivia.
We went on our first date at Mother Anna’s, an Italian restaurant in the North End of Boston. We enjoyed our pasta dishes, drank a smooth bottle of red, and openly discussed issues we had with past relationships (I know, this is one of the “do not’s” of dating). Looking back, I see how a relationship that opened with so much honesty relieved much of the fears (otherwise known as “baggage”) I had built up from my own previous relationships. It was a wonderful evening, and on the way home… I fell.
Literally, I mean I fell down awkwardly and embarrassingly, while trying to navigate the unleveled brick at Government Center. Peter lifted me up, asking if I was OK, and walked me to the subway station. He asked if he could kiss me (ok, I know…I’m starting to do that over-romanticizing thing I said I wouldn’t do).
I knew in that first week of dating not that I would necessarily marry Peter but that it could be a possibility. I had never felt this with any other person I had dated. I suppose that adage ‘I just knew’ holds true, except that in reality it is more like a feeling of ‘I think I know,’ followed by we will see where this goes. There weren’t any Swingers-rules of wait four days to call. No games were being played; we pretty much laid out what we both had to offer on our first date. We saw each other the next day on Peter’s birthday, and a week or so later, he met my immediate family on my sister’s birthday.
After a few months of dating, we were taking things “fast” (what better way to see if a relationship works in terms of what is right for you, than to not follow social norms). We decided to move half way across the country together to Chicago. In uprooting and living together, I think we learned a lot about each others’ strengths and weaknesses. The challenges of making new friends, finding new jobs, and adjusting to a much larger city away from familiar friends and family was one we faced together, which made it that much easier but also that much harder. These necessities of friends and jobs did not all come aligned and packaged neatly. There were often nights that I would be home alone, bored, and job-hunting, while Peter was at a happy hour with friends he met at work. With a bar on nearly every corner, there was also the temptation of going out often, as if we had just turned 21 years old again and our priority was to have fun, rather than to take care of each other.
After two years, we decided to move to Virginia after I was accepted to GMU’s Creative Writing MFA program. Peter was the one who had encouraged me to return to school and pursue my passion for poetry. Even though he has different interests and is more of an athlete than a scholar, he supported my pursuits and endeavors, as I hope I have supported his. This disparity in hobbies and interests isn’t a matter of “opposites attract,” in the sense that it is overly exciting to be with someone so unlike you. Rather, in many ways it has brought us closer, because we have been able to learn from each other.
If Peter was not in my life, I probably would have attended school anyways, maybe just not at this point in time. I may have also done a lot of the other cool things that Peter has taught or shown me, playing golf, learning how to drive a stick shift, snorkeling, and the list goes on. Even though I am perfectly capable of learning all on my own, it has been the most wonderful experience to have my best friend, and such a patient teacher, share his life with me and open my life to other experiences.
Relationships require work, especially to make the relationship into an equal partnership. (Yes, we squabble as every couple does, but sharing what bothers you is a lot healthier than keeping it in.) After living together for another two years in Virginia, it seems that we had grown together in a positive place and have achieved this partnership. We have entered into financial decisions together with buying a new car, and we have survived knowing each others’ bad habits. If Peter had asked me to marry him when we lived in Chicago, I don’t think either of us would have been ready for it. Now, it feels right, and we both feel we are mature enough to make this commitment.
A few months after being engaged, when asked about color schemes and linens, I had no idea and truthfully did not care so much about these minor details. Though, wedding planning has been fun (especially if you approach it lightly as a big party to celebrate rather than a day that has to be perfect), and I look forward to sharing the day with all of my loved ones. Marriage is not right for everyone, but should be a choice, one that is considered long and hard and seriously. More important than cake choices, which DJ will play the best music, and seating charts is the privilege and right that I have to choose to marry the person I love. For shame that anyone be denied this freedom.