I had a friend once, guy named Steve, who said to me, when we were discussing women and past relationships, that he’d “marry them all in retrospect…but only in retrospect.”
I’m still not quite sure what he meant.
Ultimately, I guess he was talking about the fact that we are conditioned to think of marriage as the be all and end all of a relationship. And he, being a rebel, didn’t think in those terms and would only consider the possibility when he was no longer in any danger of it actually happening. Most of us, though, most of us are slightly different.
I remember when I was in high school and the big thing was a “promise” ring, which was like a pre-engagement ring – a promise to make a promise as it were. This was our society, that when you showed a romantic interest in someone* the first comments were about marriage. Anytime you’d casually mention your enjoyment of something by stating “I love X,” your friends would immediately chime in with “well then, why don’t you marry it?”
It’s just what we were expected to do.
The first time I cohabitated with a romantic partner, I would refer to us as being married (we weren’t) because I was under the perception that the simple act of having a legal contract drawn up didn’t change anything. For me, that was wrong (not saying it’s wrong for everyone, but I certainly felt different when I was actually married) but again, it illustrates how important it was to society. We were “living in sin” by not having that little piece of paper.
So, when I met someone several years later, I was nearing thirty and knew that my time was running out. I liked her well enough, loved her even, so when the opportunity came, 6 weeks after we’d met, to get that little piece of paper while we were visiting my folks in Vegas, we took it. I’m not sure I “decided” it, as per the initial question posed here, but it happened.
When we were driving into Vegas, my girlfriend had said “the only reason we’re not going to get married this weekend is because I don’t have a nice dress.” I took the hint. The next morning, I proposed, and she didn’t like that proposal for her story, so instead, she orchestrated a different one, later in the day. Remember, it’s all about the story. With the proposal out of the way, we set about making plans to actually carry out the task, including securing rings and a venue. We invited my sister and her then roommate to join us and just like that, before the clock could strike 12 and we could all turn back into pumpkins, we were legally wed.
It lasted just over five years.
Then it took 14 years before I’d do it again. Which isn’t to say I was a monk or a hermit. No, I had relationships, but I had learned something in those 5 years of being married. Or more specifically, I learned something in the year of getting divorced. I learned I didn’t have to get married again. Not unless I wanted to. I didn’t have to think about situational permanence with every girl I thought was cute. Sure… I would have married them all in retrospect. But I’m really glad I didn’t since none of them worked out. Instead, I waited until I knew that getting married was something I wanted to do.
And when I met Rasa, I knew.
So, to answer the question: How did I decide to get married? I knew this was the person I wanted to spend my life with, to have children with, to grow old(er) with.
Granted, our timing was a bit off, but the plans were actually in motion before we knew about Monki coming along. At least before I knew. We had bought tickets for a trip to Belgium (one I ended up taking alone, the details of which are detailed elsewhere) and my plan upon purchasing the tickets was to propose at some time during the trip**.
Before that could happen, though, I got the news about the upcoming baby and that I’d be traveling to Belgium alone, so I upped the timetable and proposed on New Year’s Eve. The planning for the wedding, again, which was supposed to be totally different*** began in earnest after my return from Belgium. We had no choice, due to the weird paternity laws here, about when we were going to get married. It had to be before Monki arrived on the scene.
But the initial desire to get married, regardless of all the complications, was strong and my choice completely. Best question I ever asked and best response I ever received.
* And let’s be real here, when I was in high school, that meant someone of the opposite sex since marriage equality was a long way off legally and I’m still not sure we’ve reached it emotionally – And I’m only speaking for certain countries since there are ongoing protests here in Lithuania to even discussing the concept.
** Had we ended up with the tickets to Paris, it would have happened at the top of the Eiffel Tower, the site of our first stop on our first holiday together – and yes, she already knows this so no need for a spoiler alert!
*** Originally, the plan was to propose and then have a destination wedding the summer of 2016 at Disneyworld in Florida. The best laid plans, right?