This question always stumps me, because I was never really one to “date” at any point. Sure, long before I was “allowed” to go out with anyone, I had boyfriends. Or I didn’t, which was fine too. But even after I was out of my parents’ house, I wasn’t really a “go out on a date” kind of person. As a singleton in my 20s, living in NYC, I tried dating websites, but all I found was a plague of frogs waiting to be unleashed.
Now that I'm thinking about this, my mom actually encouraged me to go on more dates. Sometimes this was rejected by me in favor of fun with friends. But more often, time and again really, I ended up diving right into long term relationships. I imagine the restless nights mom had, worried I was going to run off to get my MRS degree before I finished college.
She need not have worried. Maturity, they say, is what comes with age. Wisdom is said to come from experience. I considered the lack of these qualities in most of my boyfriends as a strong reason for not getting married young.
Naturally, I watched many friends walk down the aisle in their twenties. Some of those unions were successful, others were very much not. To my observation, however, age plays no role in the divorce rate.
Growing up I just had an understanding (reinforced by my mother) that when it came to getting married, it was better to wait. Both my parents were married/divorced prior to marrying each other. As it happens, my husband’s father was also divorced prior to his marrying my mother-in-law.
It’s therefore interesting, I think, that Hubs was married for close to a decade & in the process of divorcing before we ever met. While I wasn’t married before, I too had been in a long term live-in relationship. If you want to get technical, it was a domestic partnership.
I suppose it is worth noting that at the time in NYC a domestic partnership was actually intended for same-sex couples to have a "separate but equal" alternative to marriage. It was also a way hetero couples could legally co-mingle without actually taking the plunged. In my head, I saw it as a step toward marriage. Looking back, I’m pretty sure my partner saw it as a sidestep.
This was the relationship I was in when mom died. I’ve said before that after her death I ran from responsibility and kept running until I found someone who made me want to be a grown up again. So it should come as no real shock that after her death my “Legally Not Married” status suited me just fine. True, I’d have protested this at the time, but I was very clouded in those days. Frankly I made poor decisions with fierce abandon.
Spoiler Alert: The “someone” I was referring to? The guy I now refer to as Hubs.
I was 34, and after nine years in The Big Apple I was finally living life the way I imagined it would be. I no longer felt a need to try and hide part of myself to please a significant other. Honestly, that shite is exhausting. Suddenly I found myself chatting up someone who seemed even less interested in all that silly preening than I was.
Better still, in the same way I knew we could have a fight without blowing the whole damn relationship up, we both came in with a "take me as I am" outlook. Maybe that doesn't sound romantic, but my eyes saw the perfect prince to my princess in a tarnished tiara.
We spoke of things in our early months together that I'd never felt safe to talk about with any significant other. You know, the sort of things you in trust to your best friends and swear them to never tell anyone ever? That stuff. Without ever saying it in so many words it was clear: he was asking about my past to know and understand me, not to judge me and someday use my mistakes as leverage in our relationship.
Occasionally on my Facebook page I will post examples of obscure ways I realize my husband is my perfect match. I call these moments #ReasonsWhyWeWork. Romantic, right? Whatever, we may balance the high level of sarcasm with our tender moments, but this is way more accurate than something all lovey-dovey.
Mostly we are just wryly embracing the beautiful mess we have made of our lives - Together.
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