You Don’t Want To Marry Me?
Author’s Note: June 12, 2019
At this point, I had just moved to Bellingham, Washington from Santa Barbara, California, with expectations to sail our Cal 34 sailboat to Mexico. But, Chris and I didn’t get the boat ready before the cold rainy weather of the Pacific Northwest set in. And now, we had to wait until the following summer to safely leave.
Here I was, living on a boat in a depressingly cold place without friends, family, or sunshine. I also had the shittiest haircut in my life, thanks to my desire to “chop it all off!” at a local barbershop. With my former identity poorly cut into what appeared to be a Dumb & Dumber looking hairstyle and our schedule cleared from traveling Mexico, I had ALL the time in the world to question what I truly wanted in life: my career as a writer, deciding whether or not to have kids, and if Chris and I could build a life together.
And that’s where this story takes place: in my car, on the way to family dinner on Lummi Island in Washington, wondering if my boyfriend of a year was going to be the man for the rest of my life.
*I would like to note that the Pacific Northwest is magical – fairies and gnomes live there! But in this story, I was in the midst of full-on Seasonal Affective Disorder depression and living through, what locals referred to as, “the worst winter Washington had seen in a decade.”
So there’s that.
First published in the Santa Barbara Sentinel as “Real Talk” in December 2016.
(Friendly reminder: I write under the pen name, Elizabeth Rose and my fiancé Chris is known as “Jason” in the I Heart stories.)
It took a drastic life change to see beyond my five-year plan, and it turns out, a canceled trip to Mexico can do that. So, with my calendar suddenly cleared, I had no choice but to face the question:
Do Jason and I have a future?
We pillow talked about what we want out of life, but it was time to figure out what I valued most. And I couldn’t rely on my heart to guide me through this one. I had to use my head, too.
So, taking emotions out it as best I could, I looked at our relationship like a business merger. I contemplated the nitty-gritty – marriage, home, work, kids – and determined what I needed and what I couldn’t give up. And it turns out, the traditional girl inside of me couldn’t give up marriage.
Then, a scary thought set in. Not only did I have to be ready for the answer, but I also had to walk away if we couldn’t agree. This was the time to negotiate a future or shake hands and walk away.
And I’m scanning the car the radio as Jason drives along the windy roads toward his sister’s house. We’re about five minutes away from family dinner and at this random moment, I decided it was time to talk.
“Babe, I need to ask you something,” I said. “Do you see us… married?”
He paused too long before exhaling deeply.
“Well, I see us building a future together,” Jason said. “But not marriage.”
A sharp pain pierced my insides and it was suddenly hard to swallow.
Are you fucking kidding me? I wanted to shout. But instead, I nodded politely and let him finish.
“My parents are divorced, both grandparents got divorced, and I was pressured into marriage once,” he said. “So, I guess I’m jaded.”
It was then reminded myself that this was “just business” and it was time to be clear that, for me, marriage was a non-negotiable. And as much as I valued our partnership, I couldn’t stay if it wasn’t in our future.
“Okay, I understand, and I’m sorry you feel that way,” I said, suddenly fearless. “But I want to experience marriage one day. And if I went through life and never married, I would feel I missed out.”
And it was in those moments before he spoke – which felt like infinity, by the way – a funny thing happened. I wasn’t scared anymore. It turned out, the scary part wasn’t his response; it was keeping my needs buried inside. Because no matter what he said next, I would be alright. The fact that I stood up for myself was what mattered most.
Silently we drove the rest of the way to his sister’s house.
But before we got out of the car, he took my hands in his and looked in my eyes and said, “Elizabeth, I love you and I want you to be happy. So, if marriage is what you want, then I want to be married to you.”
Can you relate to this unperfect love story? If so, please tell us in the comments below! xo
Did you miss An Unperfect Love Story (Part 1)? Got it here!
Our first attempt to sail to Mexico didn’t go as planned. Read More!