I DID THINK, LET’S GO ABOUT THIS SLOWLY
(By Mary Oliver)
I did think, let’s go about this slowly.
This is important. This should take
some really deep thought. We should take
small thoughtful steps.
But, bless us, we didn’t.
That’s the poem I posted on Facebook for V yesterday (which was Valentine’s Day if you’ve been living under a rock). I’m not usually gung ho about this day which I think is overhyped, but I’m not all RSS about it either. I had intended to present this poem to V, and since I hadn’t been able to do it on our actual 10th wedding anniversary, owing to the fact that it turned out more than a little hard to dig up and being in India at the time, I wasn’t in a position to put in the requisite effort, I decided to aim for the upcoming V-Day instead.
Now, as you all know, V and I have been having some tumultuous times, which happily seem to be on the wane. But even through them, if asked if I would have changed our beginning, I would have said no. The story of our early romance is like two people who started out on what seems like a walk in the garden, but after a few steps, ended up rolling down a hill (in a good way). Let’s just say it got intense pretty quick, despite our good intentions. And we decided to get married. You can read about it here.
MinCat, who knows our whole history, opined that people should have a mandatory period of dating and then living together before marriage. I know this makes logical sense, and yet, I don’t think it’s the key to a happy marriage. For one, yeah V and I decided to get married pretty quick, and then we were in a prolonged honeymoon period being long distance, but we technically dated over a year and when we lived together we didn’t really face problems in our first year. So then MinCat said, people should be at least 27. And again, yeah, I agree older is wiser, or is it? Honestly, I’ve become more messed up as I age. I was very mature as a 17 year old. I’m not recommending people marry young or rush into marriage, in fact I think the contrary is preferable, but that ultimately, there is no foolproof plan.
The thing is, if I had to do it over, I would still choose V and I don’t think time would have made a difference (unless we waited five years or something). Because he’s my type – the kind of person I’m physically attracted to, and who rationally I think has the qualities that I think make for a stable partnership. There are other qualities which are not so positive, and which in retrospect, there were signs of early on, but would those have been dealbreakers in the early days? I don’t think so. Sometimes (often?) traits that are muted early in a relationship become more pronounced under stress, and when that happens and the form it takes are not going to be clear early on. When you begin to piss each other off, how you react is based on the person you are and situation at the time. Could I have predicted we would have turned into the people we have and this particular combination? I don’t think so.
I don’t have a problem with my choice of spouse, despite our differences. I have problems with the institution of marriage that straitjackets people into a certain format of relationship with the ghost of patriarchy hovering if not being actually present. I wonder why people get married a second time around. Most people seem to be optimists and think they picked wrong. Sometimes – maybe often – that’s true. But I think it’s not necessarily the person or even combination of persons but marriage as a concept itself that might be problematic.Then again right now marriage as a concept is working for me fairly well. Though I’ve seen enough of its shortcomings to not push my children towards it.
I like to think that had I not been conditioned to marry, I would have stayed single. But thing thing is, I would never have been able to live alone. I’m just not cut out for it. Instead, I reckon I would have clung to my parents. In a way, getting married forced me to grow up, even though V was a shield. I had to at least pretend to be an adult.
On a popular blog, there were often calls for ideas on how best to screen prospective partners. Honestly, I found these lists pointless. I think in these matters you try to think as clearly as is possible under the influence of Cupid, but in the end, there is no foolproof checklist for wisely selecting a spouse. Hopefully, the instincts you have honed through your life thus far serve you well, but it’s always going to be a gamble.
We were at dinner with a big group, including a new girl who it turned out worked for V’s bank. A couple of days later, V teased me about making “that face” when he was talking to the girl. “I thought, after all this, she’s still jealous,” he said.
I immediately looked sheepish but not simply for the reason that he had caught me out in a jealous moment. I won’t deny that three minutes into meeting that girl, I pegged her as one of those who would be quietly flirty. When I unraveled my thoughts that evening, I remember the girl asking V about work, and V replying. And that’s when I may have got a look on my face. Because normally people talking about work get frozen out by V who has zero interest in the usual round of “what do you do?” chatter. But this time, he indulged her a little bit. And my faces must have said, “Aha.”
But yes, I’m not immune to jealousy. Or at least smirking when I see a hint of something.