This is the last installment in the how I came to marry the Genius Husband saga, and in my opinion the most important. You’ll want to stay until the end because it involves embarrassing yet sweet incontinence.
After we were engaged the Genius Husband went kind of nuts for a couple of days, and sort of disappeared, as in got in his car and started driving north on the I-5. He told me later that he was coming to terms with the reality that marrying me meant he could never just pick up and go again, he would always have to think about me too, he would have to be responsible. When you have wanderlust streak as deep and as wide as my husband’s this is a very daunting reality. He can only go so long without needing to be somewhere else, and that place always changes. Before me he could travel the world with what he could carry in a satchel, and enough money scraped together for a plane ticket. Now it would be two plane tickets, and since I’m a girl a hotel to sleep in might be nice, or clean drinking water, or, if he took off on his own there would still be a home to maintain where I lived that he left and returned to.
Anyway, after he wrestled with the whole thing for a couple of weeks, he decided that he did in fact want to marry me, and it was worth losing his freedom for, and he asked me to marry him again, this time with a ring that he designed himself and had made. (It’s very pretty, and very unique.) I, of course, said yes again.
A few months later we were talking about something, I was planning a trip to Nepal I think, which I never actually took. There was all sorts of tension, and finally I stopped and asked, “What’s happening here?”
He responded that he felt as though he was waiting for me to actually make him part of my life instead of an accessory. See, I kind of had the same thoughts about marriage that some women have about babies. They think that they will go along with their lives as they are, there will just be a little person around to play with and hug at night. They expect to go on with their jobs, their social life, their entertaining, and then this little person arrives, and cries all night and needs to be fed every hour and they have no sleep and the thought of going back to work and leaving someone else to care for this creature that demands everything of them is so wrenching that at some point they realize that everything has changed. I was expecting to go on with my life, my plans, my ideas, with the added bonus of a loving and supportive man on the side who would make me feel good and special and fit himself into what ever I had planned. This is not exactly what marriage looks like.
That afternoon as we sat in his little black, old, BMW, he forced me to open my eyes up to the reality that if we married it would be he and I making decisions, that what he wants may not be what I want, that we would need to compromise, that he expected to assume a lot of the responsibility of making major life decisions, and that he wasn’t all that interested in being a tag along to the life I had going right now and that my focus would have to shift from my friends and my plans to him, and our plans. It was a cruel awakening for me, and my little romantic bubble burst into several pieces that settled into the faded upholstery around us. As I sat silently absorbing this new conundrum, he said, “So now, knowing that, knowing now what it means to say yes to me, will you marry me? Will you join your life with my life, and let it be different because of it?”
Through my tears I blubbered, “What else am I going to say, I love you?”
And then I stopped, and I thought for a second, and I said, “I can’t answer you yet, I need some time to think about it. I don’t want to give myself any kind of back door when I’m unhappy say several years from now when I can say, well ‘I didn’t really have time to think it over, I didn’t know what I was getting into’ and give myself an excuse for leaving. Can you come back tomorrow? I’ll answer you then.”
And I got out of his car and went inside.
You see, I watched my parents marriage fall apart, I didn’t and still don’t ever want to be divorced, to put my children through that kind of misery, to ever be as unhappy as my parents were/are. Because I’m analytical I tend to break things down, examine events, try to explain and understand every single little thing that happens and why it happens. My son gets this from me. As a child I listened to a litany of things my mother regretted about their courtship, his proposal, their first year of marriage, their honeymoon, every little disappointment and unexpected hurt was rehearsed, almost daily, when I was younger. She expressed so much disappointment and regret at not having seen sooner who my father was, at finding out she was married to a different man than she thought she was getting, at being unhappy and not having noticed the several indicators that seemed to her in her middle age to have pointed towards this fate if only she had read the signs. I didn’t want to become that woman. I don’t want to become that woman. Thank God I haven’t yet. In her defense, my father made her miserable, they made each other miserable, but she was so broken and vulnerable when she met him that I feel nothing but compassion for the way she was constantly crushed by her life with him, and I’m glad she finally had the courage to leave, as hard as it was.
Anyway, in my quest to not live in regret, and knowing myself well enough to realize that I could very well sabotage my future relationship with this man if I didn’t sit still for a minute and figure things out, and make sure my arsenal was free of explosives before going in, I started a 24 hour soul search. I journaled, I cried, I talked to my friends, I made pro and con lists, I listed every bad quality in him that I was aware of, I listed all of his good points, I pinpointed the things about him that had the potential to drive me crazy in several years, I tried to separate the reality of who he was right at this moment from the potential I saw in him, and the man I felt he would become. I asked myself if he never grew past the person he is now, would I still love him and be content with him? (yes) I asked myself what my biggest fears were and were they at all logical considering who he was? (no) I tried to be as thorough as I possibly could, and when he returned the next evening, I still didn’t know.
I could see the tension in him as he walked in the door, I had made him wait for a whole day, and the poor man was feeling it and trying very hard not to influence my decision by making me feel guilty, or sorry for him, or unfree in anyway to decide. I asked him if he would mind going for a walk, since I didn’t want to talk in a house full of people. As we headed off down the street I noticed that he was walking a little bit funny, and I asked him if he was okay, he responded that he was a little tense.
We stopped on a street corner and I blubbed and told him all of my fears and confusion. Eventually I asked him if we could sit down in the grass. I remember him saying, “Um…okay.”
After all of the blubbing and thinking out loud to him I finally concluded, “I think I could marry you, I just want to be certain that it’s what I’m supposed to do, that it’s what God wants me to do.”
(Okay, so I was very young/immature, I had grown up Christian, and I still had this naïve idea that God plans everyone’s life out in neat little packages and the only challenge is to figure out exactly what HE wants and then you’ll be happy. You may laugh at me, I do. It is also much more convenient to sign your life away to someone else, be it deity or person because then you can avoid making any hard decisions and if something goes wrong you can blame it on them. It’s a great way to avoid responsibility. Now I have realized that kind of the point of being alive, having freedom, God making us, etc. is so that we can become adults, free people who make real choices that have real consequences and in the living out of our lives this way we fully embrace what it is to be human, and the incredible gift that our lives can be. Anyway, I digress.)
Until this point the Genius Husband/Fiancé had been relatively silent, listening to me ramble. Finally he asked if I wanted to know what he thought God might be saying to me. He was trying not to influence me you see. I wanted to hear it and he said something very wise that I will never forget, because with it I stepped into a place I didn’t know existed before then. He said, “I think God is just saying what do you want? If you marry me, I will love you, we will have a life together and you can be happy. If you don’t marry me there will be people who will love you, and you can be happy. What do you want?”
With those words I found myself hanging out over an abyss that I managed to avoid until then, the frightening place of freedom and responsibility. This was not a moral choice, there was no right or wrong here, there wasn’t even necessarily better or worse, there was just the question of what I was going to choose, coupled with the ultimate responsibility for that choice and its outcome. There would be no one to blame but myself if I was unhappy with my choice, it was my choice and I had to make it. There was a man in front of me who required and deserved an answer, and I couldn’t avoid it. I was absolutely terrified. I bawled like a little baby for what felt like ages.
At the end of it, as I started to calm down, I came to this little spinning center in the middle of the frightening empty blackness, I suppose it was just the unknown but it actually felt like I was seeing these things. In the middle of that bright little center a voice spoke to me what I knew to be true what I believed in the center of myself was the most important thing. “In the end, all that matters is how well we love God, and love others.”
How on earth was marrying someone going to keep me from doing that? If anything it would give me more opportunities to do just that. In that moment all of the swirling in my heart came to a stop, and with complete peace I looked at him and said, “Yes.”
His smile was beautiful. And we got up and started to walk back towards the house. Now for all of you who stuck with me through all of that inner turmoil and bit of personal theology, here is your reward.
As we walked he said, “OK do you want to know what we’re going to do now?”
I said “What.”
“We’re going to stop at my car and I’m going to get a clean pair of pants out of the trunk, and then borrow your shower.”
I asked the question you are all asking, “Uh, why?”
“Well, when we were leaving the house I was so nervous I kind of, sort of, shit myself. I thought it was just gas but it wasn’t.”
The poor guy had walked around the neighborhood, sat down in the grass, listened to me blubber and ramble, and managed to say something really wise, all with poo in his pants.
How did I not notice? Besides being so obviously self-absorbed I mean? He was wearing a very thick pair of lined wool felt pants that he had picked up in Nepal and they were absorbent enough, and dark enough, that I hadn’t noticed, or smelled anything.
After he cleaned himself up we went to a nearby park with a view of the city and the water, and ate the picnic he had brought and our symbolic first meal in our life together, and it was very romantic.
I have not yet regretted the choice I made that night, though I often wish things were different, and once or twice I have had to choose to not go there, even though I’m tempted, but for me it was one of the more pivotal moments of my life thus far, and one of the best.
Everyone who knows us knows that story, for all you who are worried about the GH’s dignity as I reveal his embarassing moments. It’s common knowledge around here, so I don’t feel bad sharing it with you internet, especially ’cause, hey, it’s anonymous.