Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Why Get Married?!

I read the blog of a young D.C. woman who gave her boyfriend of 7 months an ultimatum to either marry her or get lost. He has until February 1st (that's with a one month extension) to make up his mind. Now I have to admit I don't personally know this couple and odds are I'll never meet them but I'd like to offer my perspective. I was engaged to three guys before I met and married my husband. The first was a college fling and ended painfully for both of us when he graduated before me. The second was a man who took good care of me following my college break-up. He was generous with his money and attention and, basically, I took advantage of him for 7 years. Then he finally figured out I wasn't going to marry him and broke it off. The third was a goofy, brief, long-distance thing with a world-class karate champ from the other side of the world. At that point, I decided a breather was in order. For about five years of casual dating and, more importantly, time to do what I wanted, when and how I wanted, I started to enjoy my own company. Then . . . KABOOM!!! Totally out of the blue, a man walked into my office and sparks flew. It scared the heck out of me and surprised him, too. After three dates he moved in with me. For 5 years, I'd been very content with my own, little apartment and my own stuff. Thankfully he didn't bring much with him, but sharing a tiny studio apartment with another adult nearly drove me up the wall. He was ready to commit but I didn't want to give up my freedom. At the same time, I was soooo attracted to him. Lust nearly did me in, but I resisted marriage for a year and a half. Then, the INS forced the issue. All of a sudden I was in danger of losing him -- permanently -- because he lacked paper work! That sealed the deal. We endured a court hearing, embarrassing and infuriating INS interviews and have been evolving as a married couple ever since. Now I'll answer the question I asked at the beginning. Being married is perhaps the most exhilarating, exasperating, boring, exciting, maddening and lovely thing two humans can experience together. Speaking from experience, living together and being married are NOT the same. Love is a small though crucial element in the chemistry of a good relationship. Marriage means you're committed to your spouse through bouts of projectile vomiting, rashes, enemas, arguments and jealousy and so many other obstacles to making it easy. Yet if you've entered into it with the right partner, it just keeps getting better and stronger from year to year. I've learned patience, tolerance, and that I'm not actually perfect. In return I receive unconditional love! We got a late start, but I pray that we will enjoy each other for another 25 years -- at least!

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