Ring Around Your Finger/Rope Around Your Neck, short term/long term
January 10, 2009 3:06 PM   Subscribe

When you consider marriage, do you have a time frame? Not for the ceremony, mind you, duration of the bond itself.

When you were married, did you think forever or hope for ten to twenty? More? And if you are as yet unhitched, do you think towards the future in terms of numbers, or an indefinite?
posted by emhutchinson to Human Relations (62 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
I believe the commitment is to the death...
posted by pwally at 3:11 PM on January 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


yeah most of us think the commitment is "until death do you apart"....not that it always turns out like that however....but initiallly....
posted by The1andonly at 3:13 PM on January 10, 2009


My (new) husband and I joke that we have entered into a one year contract, with a re-negociation for another year on our anniversary. Seriously though, I intent on staying with him until one of our deaths (or the singularity...then I don't know what we'll do :) )
posted by lizjohn at 3:19 PM on January 10, 2009


Given the tremendous damage of divorce--to children, to couples, to finances, even with the existence of a prenup--I think that nearly everybody envisions their marriage as lasting until death. Otherwise, why would one go through the wrenching emotional pain, trauma to children, and financial catastrophe of splitting up, when these could be easily avoided through living together?
posted by Gordion Knott at 3:20 PM on January 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I pretty much hoped and planned for forever.
posted by fenriq at 3:22 PM on January 10, 2009


I was never much of a long term planner. I never had an idea of what my life would be like in a year, never mind to be an old person. But the longer that I knew my (then) girlfriend and the older that I got, the future became a little less hazy. So it seemed like a good idea to start planning a future together, and my (then) girlfriend is now my wife.

I still don't really know what my future will be like, but when I got married It was because I wanted to spend my uncertain future with my wife. So there is no time frame except for the "death do us part" thing. I can live with that.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 3:23 PM on January 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


At 23 and 24, I don't think Mr. Darling and I gave the concept of marriage much thought, much less the duration. We'd been living together for a while and a lot of our friends were getting married, and that seemed like a good enough reason at the time.

What really cemented it for us was a few crises in the early years - the kind of challenges that either bind you together or tear you apart - where we discovered that going through them together was better.

Then, our kids. Having grown up with divorced parents and remarriage, what I want more than anything is for my children to be 100% secure in the fact that their dad and I love each other and will stay together through thick and thin. They see us at our worst and at our best, but I never want them to go to bed - as I did - wondering if the next fight will be the one that ends it all.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 3:31 PM on January 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


Just a comment. Handfasting is frequently done for a year and a day in pagan traditions. I read somewhere once that we as humans aren't wired to be married for our entire lives (source escapes me and can't look it up at the moment).
posted by arimathea at 3:37 PM on January 10, 2009


I love my husband and plan on being with him as long as both of us are still drawing breath.

That being said, I remember wondering why I wasn't nervous on our wedding day, as tradition seemed to demand. I realized that I would be much more anxious about marriage if it wasn't so easy to get a divorce.
posted by bibliowench at 3:37 PM on January 10, 2009


I've been married twice. Both times, I went into it expecting it to be permanent. Obviously I was wrong in the first case; the second case seems to be working out. IMO, if you go into it expecting it to be of limited duration, you're doing it wrong.

If something happens that radically extends human lifespan, my wife and I might decide to renegotiate at some point. That's the only way in which I would consider ending the marriage before the fact.
posted by adamrice at 3:45 PM on January 10, 2009


I said yes. That was supposed to be for life. Then I adhered to my part of the deal: sometimes in a smart way, sometimes in a stupid way, until #2, after 11 years, disclosed her own agenda and pointed me to the door.
My intention here is not to sound pessimistic (as you see, there was a period where I patently wasn't) or haplessly nostalgic, but to indicate that there are two persons involved in the deal.
That's the real nut to crack. You're not going to be alone with this.

Nevertheless, yes: if you go into it expecting it to be of limited duration, you're doing it wrong
posted by Namlit at 3:49 PM on January 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Given the hassle, stress, and general nonsensicality of marrying with the intention of one day divorcing, I'm uncertain why anyone would bother with that kind of planning. It could be a myopic thing at the start, like Sweetie Darling says, or it could be the real sort of want and need to love through, live through, and struggle through your lives while married, but I think that the idea or the illusory sense of it has to be there from the start.

Otherwise, why get married? Stay together, living together, and reap the benefits of being able to walk whenever you find yourself no longer committed. Sure there are some legal sort of perks, but I doubt they're worth the halving of assets or the negotiating of some silly contract making a rift between you and your (ex-)SO.
posted by johnbaskerville at 3:51 PM on January 10, 2009


Marriage, I believe, should be for ever. And that's why I refuse to get married.
posted by ShameSpiral at 3:51 PM on January 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


It sort of depends whether you believe in any sort of afterlife ... I'll be pretty miffed if I don't get to meet up again with my SO after death ... and I'm also expecting to get back together with every one of our dogs, past and present ... :-)
But to be serious, I think that most of us just think that year to year can't-think-how-I'd-live-without-him/her is pretty good going. The until-death thing is a definite bonus.
posted by Susurration at 3:52 PM on January 10, 2009


I went into marriage knowing I couldn't imagine finding anyone else who understood me as much as my partner did. I knew no one else would find me as funny, adorable, and beautiful as he did. For my part, I couldn't iimagine being with anyone else but him for the rest of my life.

We've been together for almost 18 years, and have been married for 14 of those. I love him more now than I did on our wedding day, and he'll tell you the same thing about me. We knew right from the start that staying together was the only option for us. Divorce is not an option for us, period. It is for some people (it should be for my parents, for example, but they refuse to go through with it), but it's not for us.
posted by cooker girl at 3:56 PM on January 10, 2009 [7 favorites]


I wouldn't have bothered getting married if I didn't hope we could do this for life.

Together 13 years & married 7 so far.
posted by luriete at 4:00 PM on January 10, 2009


I think there's something to the fact of when you meet in life as well. I've known Ms. Pops since High School. Sometimes it really hits us that whatever our disagreements, we have known each other the way the best of best friends know each other, from those formative years. I know better than to claim to know the future. I think a lot of the permanence of marriage starts with the fundamental psyche of the people in it. There's not a doubt in my mind that people who feel happier with themselves and life in general hold their spouses to less extraordinary standards. I know I never had thoughts that my marriage was forever any more than I had thoughts that I would develop the gift of invisibility. I just liked the way marriage made our relationship feel permanent and vital. Any ruminations about staying together or splitting up over the years never centered around our piece of paper, though.

Being contemplative is good. Letting it overwhelm you isn't. Don't overthink it.
posted by docpops at 4:16 PM on January 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Forever. That said, this is sort of a forced question for me. I didn't and don't think in terms of a timeline most of the time. When I proposed, I just thought she was the person I love and want to be with. The "forever" part was there, but I think it was more subconscious.
posted by grumblebee at 4:16 PM on January 10, 2009


I got married intending the commitment to be life-long but I was aware that many marriages start out well and don't make it. Somewhere around the 15 year mark, I realized that I knew my husband and myself well enough that to feel sure that we would be there for each other into old age. Since then we have had some very trying circumstances but there was never any question in my mind that we would face them together. So, at 22, I was hoping it would be for life and at 50 I am confident that it will be.
posted by metahawk at 4:23 PM on January 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm 20 and single, but, I do intend to get married one day. When I do, it will be for life.
posted by firei at 4:26 PM on January 10, 2009


I'm 30 years old. When I was younger than I am today, I used to fear the idea of getting married one day because I thought there was no way I could sustain a relationship until death. Then I met The One. We're getting married later this year and I have no fears, no doubts at all that this is one that will last until death.

So yeah. Forever. Until Death do us part. And I think, especially given the answers before me in this thread, that that's what most people entering into a marriage hope for.
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:27 PM on January 10, 2009


Handfasting is frequently done for a year and a day in pagan traditions
Well, yes, if by "pagan traditions" you mean "late 18th century myth, or at best an obsolete and highly localised custom".
posted by Pinback at 4:33 PM on January 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


Just for reference,
the year and a day thing is usually just for the first year and a day. It's a trial marriage. After that, you either go your separate ways, or go for (an intended) life, or specific fixed-term marriage.

But, how many people do you know that got married in only a year from initial dating or living together? Because you can kind of think of it as that equivalent. Dating, then going whole hog for a year to see if you can make it work.


Anyway, yeah - If it was me, I might do a handfasting first, but probably only with another neopagan, because it'd be held a whole lot earlier in the piece than say, the length of any of my longer term relationships, or the point we started mentioning handfastings etc otherwise.
If I got married, I'd want extensive pre-marriage counselling. I'd want an agreement that we'd sit down at least every 5 years, and work on any niggles (see counselling etc), before it gets bad. I'd want an agreement that if we had kids, we'd be functional parental units no matter what, and preferably a team (living in an large flat, with outside partners would be acceptable - I know a couple who are really working that one well). I'd want a prior commitment that in the case of a break-up, we'd go through at least 3 months of couples counselling, with at least 2 different counsellors, and have at least one counsellor agree that it would be best for us to break up, before going ahead.

So yeah, like shamespiral - I might not ever get married, but if I do, the above agreements, are really important to me.
posted by Elysum at 4:42 PM on January 10, 2009


Permanent was the intent, but then we'd started going out together with the intent of permanence, so marriage didn't really change that.

Seems to be working good so far.
posted by rodgerd at 4:47 PM on January 10, 2009


Forever, unless by some radical change in personality one of us hits the other or cheats on the other. And of course forever is terrifying. But I'm gonna do it, yeah. For the reasons mentioned above--I cannot fathom anyone loving me so completely and unconditionally. It's impossible for me to imagine someone coming along who could understand and accept me more, and find me so smart, warm, beautiful, and funny. And it goes right back at him for me too. He's my best friend, and the best best friend I've ever had. So that's that.
posted by ifjuly at 4:51 PM on January 10, 2009


I'm an unmarried, 30 year old single person who didn't marry her last boyfriend because she's going for the forever thing and she had her doubts about that possibility with him. I'm of the belief that if you have doubts of it being forever, then don't do it; go for a civil union. The institution of marriage isn't for everyone, and it shouldn't be; humans may or may not (studies seem inconclusive) be designed for monogamy but many nations over have adopted monogamy as the cultural norm. Although it seems that in Hollywood, a place that doesn't particularly take the institution of marriage seriously, the civil unions last forever (Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell are just one example) and the marriages generally get a couple of years.

On a side note, I spend a lot of time in Amazonian Peru where people rarely get married until after they've been together for twenty or thirty odd years and they already have a few children, both together and/or with past partners. They usually don't get married until they really mean it, and the foundation is already there.

But I claim to actually know nothing. I am an unmarried product of divorced parents, and that makes me a bit more nervous of the whole thing, but if I ever do dive in, I want it to be until death. And with a whole hell of a lot of counseling.
posted by cachondeo45 at 5:02 PM on January 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Nevertheless, yes: if you go into it expecting it to be of limited duration, you're doing it wrong

Repeating for truth, at least as far as modern American civil and/or religious marriage goes.

Mr. F and I have been together for 4.5 years and married for almost seven months. We half-jokingly ask each other "Hey, wanna give it another year and see how it goes?" once a year, and that's as close as we come to re-enacting any bullshit 18th-century myths within an unconventionally religious framework.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 5:06 PM on January 10, 2009


When I got married at 20, I thought forever.

By 30 I realized that marriage was largely an out-dated ritual for a different time and place.

If you are western and middle class, odds are your spouse doesn't need you to solely take care of them. You don't need a dowry to start your life. You're not going to have a ton of children so you don't need a mama-figure. You're likely going to live to mid 70s or 80s, so you'll probably change direction a few times.

Anyone who marries forever is giving up a lot. You only live once, sorry. 10 years, 15 years max.
posted by brandnew at 5:08 PM on January 10, 2009


Forever and ever. ( of course I've only been married for a few months, but that is the intention)
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 5:18 PM on January 10, 2009


When I got married at 20, I thought ten years was a reasonable expectation.

Now, I expect forever.

Turns out, he rules.
posted by kristymcj at 5:23 PM on January 10, 2009


I meant to add, it's 10 years later.
posted by kristymcj at 5:32 PM on January 10, 2009


Tomorrow it will be 23 years.

Much water under many bridges. In the mean time, emphasis on the "mean," enjoy yourselves, MePeople, and look at the face before you, and realize as time goes past it's hard to make the good things last, but you can try . . .

If this were better placed in MeTalk, MeChat, or MeOtherworld, please forgive me.

Elizabeth, wife
posted by emhutchinson at 5:32 PM on January 10, 2009


Forever is a mighty long time and I don't think most people can really conceive of the reality of that. Sure, we have a lovely picture in our heads of growing old on the porch, smiling contently at each other every now and then as birds chirp in the background. But no one really knows for sure how it's all going to turn, so we go day by day and eventually look back and realize that forever wasn't long enough.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:33 PM on January 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Isn't marriage the ultimate expression of optimism and hopefulness and trust? And isn't that why we do it? Because sharing *that* with someone -- and not the day-to-day stuff -- is what really makes you feel like you've got some control over the happy path of your life?

I think it is. And I don't think it's wrong for so many people to enter into it not being fully cognizant of the oh-so-many things that can (and will) go wrong, that can (and will) make it fail.

And that's one of the really frustrating things about not being able to gay-marry. Because hell, sometimes I feel as hopeful as anyone else. And sometimes I feel as cynical. But in the end, it's no different. We all want the same thing, and we all assume we're equally capable of it.

So, yeah. "Forever." But for me, it's more like Forever I hope I hope, but with the conscious realization that there's maybe something that we don't know yet, and that might change things.
posted by mudpuppie at 5:44 PM on January 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


I got married on the principle that it granted us a set of rights that we wouldn't have as shacked-up singles. We lived together and loved each other for several years before getting married. The marriage wasn't about expressing love, it was about getting into the ER to see the other if necessary--and the ring, which I rather like.

So, my expectation of the duration of our marriage is "as long as it's working". I think it'll probably last until one of us dies, but I sure wasn't thinking that when I said, "Yeah, given the right prenup, I'd marry you."
posted by Netzapper at 5:49 PM on January 10, 2009


I've been married for just over 3 months. I definitely didn't have any time frame in mind other than "until we're dead." We lived together for three years before marrying, but "forever" changes my perspective on things; little arguments become much, much less important when I realize I've made a lifetime commitment.
posted by desjardins at 5:52 PM on January 10, 2009


That's a good question, and I think the answer is as long as you can possibly sustain it. When I was in my twenties and unmarried but with serious girlfriends, that sustainable time frame seemed finite and the relationships ultimately fell apart. With my wife, "as long as we can possibly sustain it," has already endured the best and worst we could have possibly brought to the table by this point. Things will be even better and worse yet, but there is no sense of the relationship being finite for all of its challenges. Life is always better with her, no matter how frustrating any particular day might be.
posted by mrmojoflying at 6:01 PM on January 10, 2009


I can't speak for anyone else, but for me marriage was and is a forever thing. Forever is a tough concept to get my mind around so I'll settle for the "till death do us part".

I think Susurration has it.

Mrs arcticseal and I are at 15 years, 9 of them married.
posted by arcticseal at 6:03 PM on January 10, 2009


I have some friends who had a five year commitment ceremony and celebration because they knew they wanted to stay together for a while, but couldn't conceive of the forever thing. That was a couple of years ago, and they're still together. I think the plan was that if they made it to the five they'd consider getting married (forever) as the next step.
posted by alms at 6:05 PM on January 10, 2009


If I didn't view it as "forever" I can assure you that I'd never bother to deal with any of the unpleasant bits of being in a relationship (which, depending on who you're married to and what your personality is like, could be anything ranging from jealousy to toothpaste blobs in the sink to morning breath to a preference for cats over dogs..)

That said, it helps if you BOTH view it as forever AND both want to work to keep it healthy and happy so that forever seems like a short time instead of.. an eternity. When I look at my husband and imagine that we might only be together for another 40 or 50 years? It seems like such an unbelievably short time to spend with him that it takes my breath away.

And, really, if you're the sort who prefers to think of marriage as a short term commitment, I wouldn't frown at you - I'd just hope really strongly that the person you married felt the same way. Nothing is worse than waking up one day to realize that the person you thought you'd be with forever - through the good and bad - is only in it for the good and has already put an expiry date on the relationship.
posted by VioletU at 6:14 PM on January 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


I've never been married, and I wouldn't do it if I didn't think it'd be forever.
posted by box at 6:16 PM on January 10, 2009


It sort of depends whether you believe in any sort of afterlife ... I'll be pretty miffed if I don't get to meet up again with my SO after death ... and I'm also expecting to get back together with every one of our dogs, past and present ... :-)
This says something interesting about modern romantic culture. We allow (relatively) easy divorce, but many many people expect their marriages to last even beyond the grave. Most people know that the Catholic Church (and historically, other Christian churches as well) didn't permit divorce for the purpose of remarriage. However, they do view marriage as ending at death. This is in part a reflection of Matthew 22:30:
For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.
As for dogs, animals other than humans are not believed to have immortal souls and therefore won't go to heaven.
posted by Jahaza at 6:19 PM on January 10, 2009


My parents divorced when I was very young and I never had romantic ideas about marriage. When I was little I never thought I would get married, really. I certainly never fantasized about myself in a wedding dress or any of that other stuff little girls are assumed to do like it's hardwired.

Then as I grew older I stopped thinking about my parents and started thinking about my grandparents, who were together from their teens (on both sides). There were genuine marital pressures for both: my maternal grandparents had to care for my mother during a lifelong illness, my paternal grandmother had to find room in her home and heart again once my grandfather returned home from war, a changed man. I saw the last years of their marriage, of course, after they'd already been though their most volatile years -- but as it happens, Alzheimer's occurred in both couples. I got to see more of how my maternal grandfather handled it. He was my grandmother's caretaker. He dressed her, changed her diapers, and ignored everyone who said he should put her in a home. When she finally died, he woke each morning after calling and calling for her, no less heartbroken than if she'd still been that young girl he first fell in love with, whose picture he still carried in his wallet. My sweet little Hon is what he'd written on the back, all those years ago.

I've been married for four years now. We have disagreements and difficulties like anyone else. However, just this week I've been recovering from something a bit more troublesome than just a cold. Before my husband left for work he kissed me and touched my back and I was half-sleeping. If you'd blindfolded me and walked a hundred other men by to touch me just that way I'd know which was his, without question. I've heard enough nauseating platitudes about marriage to last me a lifetime -- how it's work and commitment and whatever -- so much of it belied by the terrible way so many people actually treat each other. For me it's about how the simple act of loving and being loved changes your life. I understand and trust it, and it gives me peace. I've mean it to last as long as I live.
posted by melissa may at 6:37 PM on January 10, 2009 [40 favorites]


Otherwise, why would one go through the wrenching emotional pain, trauma to children, and financial catastrophe of splitting up, when these could be easily avoided through living together?

I don't think this position makes very much sense.

If you and your schmoopy split up after 15 years, it's not going to be anything other than emotionally wrenching just because you don't have a marriage license.

If your father leaves, it's not going to be any less traumatic to you just because he and your mother don't have marriage license.

If you and your schmoopy split up after 5 or 10 or 20 years, it's not like you're going to automatically amicably agree on how to divide your property, both explicitly jointly-held and implicitly so, just because you don't have a marriage license.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:54 PM on January 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Jahaza reminded us that: As for dogs, animals other than humans are not believed to have immortal souls and therefore won't go to heaven.
"If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." [Will Rogers].
posted by Susurration at 7:04 PM on January 10, 2009


I read somewhere once that we as humans aren't wired to be married for our entire lives (source escapes me and can't look it up at the moment).

If so, there's a whole mess of people shorting out the wire.
posted by IndigoJones at 7:18 PM on January 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was married. It ended. I went into the marriage planning on "till death" and I did everything in my power to save the relationship, and would have done even more, had it been possible.

Unfortunately, not all things are possible.

I've been serious about the fact that I'm only ever going to be married once, and much to the confusion of everyone else I know (but thankfully, not to him), 'moonMan and I will not be getting married barring my having a lobotomy.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:19 PM on January 10, 2009


PS: In many ways 'moonMan and I are more "married" than my ex-husband and I ever were. My ex isn't much of a planner and 'moonMan and I have solid plans for the next ten years, including having children (and exactly when we would like to have them, because we're both Virgos and our faults lie in *over* planning) and buying a house. We've fully committed to spending the rest of our natural lives together, but we're not going to enter into a contractual agreement to that effect - partly because it seems superfluous and partly because of my own beliefs regarding marriage and, as I said, I was only ever going to make that particular commitment *once.*
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:24 PM on January 10, 2009


I have a very strong memory from when I was a teenager of talking to my mom about the wedding vows she and my dad took. It was the 70s, they were in their mid-20s, the actual wedding ceremony was tiny, and the vows didn't say anything about "till death do us part." I forget the actual wording, but my mom summarized them as "we'll live together unless we don't want to anymore," because vows weren't what kept people together, and people could and did change. Acknowledging reality like that made sense to me. (You can guess I was not raised to see my wedding day as a major life goal.) That doesn't mean they treated their committment at all lightly, as they're still happily married.

I'm not going to guess at how my parents would answer the question, but my husband and I read the same vows at our wedding, partly because as part of my parents' wedding they were special to me and partly because it was something true that I could respect and say. I believed, and still do, that my husband and I will be together until death, but the saying isn't what makes it so. Actually, I felt uncomfortable with the whole wedding thing as a pessimist and a very private person, because it felt like by getting married we were making a very public bet with Fate. We were just 21, and we were saying that even though there is undoubtedly misery and pain in our future, even though people our ages who loved each other just as much as we did were dissolving "starter marriages" enough to make a trend out of it, that even though we were will no doubt change very much over the course of our lives, we were going to stay together forever. I felt like I could almost hear people thinking "Three years, tops." So in the abstract, I felt like the odds were against us. But really it's just up to me and my husband and how we handle hard times and change within our own relationship. Just because I want forever doesn't mean it'll happen that way, I know, but that's what I work towards.
posted by shirobara at 7:49 PM on January 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's complicated. When I got married, it was with the expectation that we'd get divorced if the relationship ever fell apart.

But we also intended to hold it together for the rest of our lives, and fully expected that we'd be able to. If you'd asked me how long I expected it to last, I'd have said "forever."

Well, it turns out it did fall apart, and we did get divorced.

Still, if I ever remarry, it'll be with the same mindset — that we can end it if we really want to, but that we're gonna do everything in our power to keep things running so smoothly that we never want to.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:10 PM on January 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would think it should be forever (or else what's the point of going through with the ceremony?), and I would want it to that way, but being cynical about relationships I don't think a lot of marriages CAN last forever, so I can picture myself getting married and hoping for forever but not feeling confident about it. Perhaps that will all change when I meet "the one" or whatever.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 10:36 PM on January 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


50th anniversary is as far as it's likely to go - but that's based on an assessment of our relative health and genetic backgrounds more than anything else. I'd love to make it to 60 or 70 years ... but that'll depend on medical science.

7 years. Going strong.
posted by ysabet at 12:51 AM on January 11, 2009


Until death us do part was what we said, and we both meant it.
posted by flabdablet at 3:21 AM on January 11, 2009


I'm a lifer.

Many people would say "Oh you're committed to marriage for life because you lucked out an got a great wife."

Those people are dumb asses =)

I have a great wife because I forced myself to sit down and decide what I really wanted out of life, what I wanted in a mate, what I wanted for my future children... and I didn't tolerate anything less than that in the women I dated. I didn't settle, I didn't take a woman on a second date just because she was pretty or made me laugh or anything else if she didn't have the qualities I wanted in a woman I'd be with until I died. My reward for not settling and relentless pursing what I wanted was finding a woman who is the absolute most fantastic wife I could have asked for. She's such a fantastic wife that friends of mine who have the exact opposite taste in women that I do will say "I'd marry her in a minute, you're lucky as hell."

Would I stay married to some horrible shrieking shrew of a woman? No. But I'd never have married her in the first place so it's a moot point.
posted by JFitzpatrick at 8:37 AM on January 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


I went in with the full expectation that it would be for the rest of our lives. We had been in a serious relationship for four years prior to my asking her to marry me. Two of these four years we had been living together... and arrangement that her parents were not too accepting of. For me marriage just seemed like the right direction... everything felt so right.

It wasn't even four months after we married that my brother was involved in a serious car accident, one that left him bouncing between surgeries and the ICU for six months. Those six months were hard... on my parents especially. My brother and I were close... having been raised by a workaholic father we stuck together through a lot of childhood hijinks and teenage melodrama. He really was my second half... we were born so close in age.

Standing at the foot of his ICU bed as his lungs let out one final long sigh ripped me apart... I was looking forward to helping him learn to walk again.

It didn't stop. A grandfather, an uncle, two cousins, close family friends, and our unborn child. Like a thousand blows...

I had been wallowing in my own numbness... trying to sort our how I really felt at my core. I didn't see the signs of our drifting apart... the past eight months had been spent trying not to be cut loose from my job... the largest source of our income. I just couldn't stop thinking my way out of feeling.

Until December 28th... I had taken to staying home as I wasn't quite the picture of health...she headed out into the suburbs to visit with her parents, siblings, niece, and nephew.

I was so tired of feeling.... nothing. I was staring at a shell prompt and listening to Radiohead far too loudly.

I was done.

Finshed with the numbness.

Years earlier we has spent an awesome weekend in St. Augustine for my birthday... we were so happy then. It only made since to do something big.

I started searching for bed and breakfasts near the water front. I found a very nice restaurant and planned to reserve a table for the evening of her birthday. I VPN'ed in and scheduled off the entire week of May on which her birthday fell. We we're going to climb the lighthouse again... explore the fort that my brother an I so enjoyed as boys... decades ago. We were going to ride in a horse drawn carriage and enjoy the sights, smells, and sounds of perhaps the neatest little nook that is St. Augustine.

I sat down, drew out a piece of paper... and used an actual pen to physically write for the first time in my life... a New Years resolution... to her and her happiness alone.

Monday, work was a bear... but I made all the reservations... deadlines be damned. The job won't last much longer anyway...now that BAC is in control they are going to gut those who weren't all ready purged to cut operational costs.

I went home feeling full for the first time. New Years Eve was just a few nights off. I friend of mine throws a formal party every year... top notch. Suits or tuxes for the men, and dresses for the ladies. It's a blast.

My little secrets... bouncing in my heart and in my head. I couldn't stop smiling. She wanted to go out for mexican at our favorite little restaurant in just north of downtown JAX. I loved her so much. The food, delicious as always made me feel at east. I drove us home past the park... the fountain near where I first asked if she wanted to be my girlfriend... through riverside with it's majestic older homes and shadowy fog filled parks.

Walking up the the porch, I felt so alive. I unlocked and opened the door for her. I set my things down... as she booted her iMac... she had been really getting into the whole "World of Warcarft" thing. She was having a lot of fun... I only played sparingly or course. Afterall... so many OS'es... so little time.

In the kitchen I go... time to put on the kettle for some tea. I grab by favorite mug, and ask out loudly if she would like some tea as well. The answer came from much closer than I had expected. I turned around.

She wasn't smiling.

In fact... she didn't smile much back at me during dinner. I just took it for her fighting off the same bug that had been making my weekend enjoyable.

For five minutes, she told me that she wanted out between fits of tears.

I couldn't say a damn thing.

She turned away from me, phone in hand dialing her mother... the kettle screaming.

I turned it off.

I walked outside... and drove back to the park... where it had all began. I kept walking around the circle. It was so fucking cold...

It was all I could do to call my best friend and ask him to meet me there.

Just like that... I finally started feeling alive.... wanting to live for her and us and all the things that we would become. Together.

I think my surprises were better.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 10:32 AM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


For the mister and me, toe-tags are the only way out.
posted by deborah at 2:38 PM on January 11, 2009


Got married in 1997. Took it to be permanent, and still do.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:08 AM on January 12, 2009


When we got married at age 20, I'm not sure I thought about "forever" or "permanent". As a child of divorced parents, I always knew I had an out. His parents are still married. He always viewed marriage as permanent. Despite that, we nearly ended in divorce in year two.

Last week, we celebrated our 15th anniversary in a manner I would not have predicted when we married. There was no party, no cake, not even dinner and a movie. We spent our anniversary in our mandatory Discipline class as foster parents. (It wasn't the fun, black leather boots kind of discipline class, either.)

The cool thing is that after 15 years of being married, we still chase each other around the house. We're still playful and frisky and crazy in love with each other. This takes serious work. We look for the rituals we do on a daily basis to confirm our commitment to each other. We work to find ways to let the other person know they're deeply appreciated. We don't always succeed. We argue and I'm still a pain in the ass to live with. However, he rocks and I feel completely lucky to have him in my life. For some reason, he feels the same.
posted by onhazier at 12:23 PM on January 12, 2009


I'm about to be married and I feel now what I have always felt — forever is oe day at at time, one after the other.
posted by tallus at 1:04 PM on January 12, 2009


This article talks about the science of staying together.
posted by kristymcj at 1:24 PM on January 12, 2009


I have met many people who are "in it for life." I have met many others who don't want to be tied down. But I've never met anyone who, at the outset, is in it for some set amount of time, like five years or ten years. That seems very strange to me.
posted by grumblebee at 1:33 PM on January 12, 2009


The Mr. and I figured it was a lifetime exclusive contract, and nearly 30 years later that still seems to be the case.

However, many years ago we went to a wedding where the bride and groom vowed to stay together as long as they could stand it. The next morning the groom took off with the maid of honour....
posted by angiep at 1:43 PM on January 12, 2009


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