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Posts tagged ‘marriage’

What’s in a name?

I can’t get a real grip on what exactly I was thinking when I decided to get married. I feel that I just made a decision and then became obstinate: I would go through with it.  I knew he was the wrong person…and yet I was in love with him.  

It astounds me now to hear myself say those words: “I knew he was the wrong person.”  And I married him anyway.  How could I have recognized what was fundamentally disastrous in that relationship, and at the same time have felt we would be married “until death do you part”. It doesn’t add up: I could acknowledge the weak spots, but couldn’t envision the future consequences.  I couldn’t see down the line of that inevitable sequence of chain reactions.

Still, I didn’t take his last name.  “I want to write a book someday, and when I do, I want to use my own name.”  And if he ever had to explain it to someone, that’s exactly what he told them.  Hearing it gave me a pang of guilt and sadness, and I felt like a fraud.  I felt sorry for him, and wondered if he really cared.  He said no, but we weren’t always honest about what we were feeling.

As a simple statement, it was true.  But I didn’t admit that there was more to my decision than books I never really expected to write.  What I didn’t say is that I wasn’t ready to give up all of myself.  Not to him.  I was not through with her, the girl with my name.  I was not willing to relinquish whatever it was that she represented to me.  Maybe it was the idea that I should someday be more, and I wanted that more to be branded with my own name.


Not to him.  But that’s the kicker: not to him.

Maybe I didn’t trust him enough.  Maybe I didn’t have faith that he could lead.

Of course, I was right.

Last time: lighting myself on fire

Next time: Honesty


lighting myself on fire

He begged me to marry him.

There were reasons to keep saying no: we hadn’t been together very long, he smoked too much pot, he was younger than me…  As seen from the eyes of my mostly good-girl life, his had been much, much wilder than mine.  He had been drinking and partying, running the streets and unsupervised, since he was a kid.  For all that, or perhaps because of it, he could be tremendously insecure.  We once had a four hour, middle-of-the-night argument about whether or not I would leave him for Keanu Reeves.  He was adamantly, frustratingly convinced that I would, and called me a liar when I said I wouldn’t.  It was a fight as breathtakingly desperate as it was ridiculous.  It would have been funny if it hadn’t been so completely exhausting, and if he hadn’t been so thoroughly angry about it.  He knew how to throw a verbal punch, too, having learned how to fight dirty from his family.  He was the first person who ever stung me with a curse in anger.

Of course, I had my issues, too.  I just didn’t realize it yet.

I had left him once already, but there were complicated emotional reasons that drew me back.  To begin with, I loved him.  Why do we – how do we – fall in love with someone so unlike ourselves?  So unlike what we think we want in a partner?  So seemingly wrong for us?  We did have fun together, and much of our relationship was good.  In so many ways, we were a team – we had humor in common, we enjoyed the same activities, liked the same movies.  We made memories.  And so, despite all those things that I didn’t like about him, I still loved him.  The truth is, I was lonely without him.  I was alone without him.

Maybe those “complicated reasons” weren’t so complicated after all.  

A week after I broke up with him, I went back.  Three months later we were getting married.  No one supported us.  Of course that hurt, but you can’t expect people who love you to stand back and watch, smiling and applauding as you light yourself on fire.

And I still had my own trepidations, all those issues I was aware of.  But I did not want to truly examine them.  He made promises that I chose to believe, even as my instincts told me not to.  He wanted marriage.  He wanted to “settle down”.  He had partied all he could bear, and he wanted the wife and the home and all that we thought marriage entailed.  You know: pink houses and picket fences and all that.  He wanted to marry me; it was the most, the only thing worth having in his life.

A strong argument.

Basically, I said yes and then became determined to go through with it.  As much as I knew there were landmines enclosed within that picket fence, I would not turn back.  The craziest thing (or most natural?) is that I thought it would work.  I never thought I would get divorced.  I could tread softly.  I could dig those landmines up if ever I needed to.  I could do this.  And whatever conviction I lacked, he had more than enough for both of us.

So, we went alone.  We got married at a little church called Chapel by the Sea.  It was sweet.  And for a few hours, at least, it stayed that way.

Next time: What’s in a name?