She looked a little surprised, and no wonder. I knew she was still holding out for the fairy tale; she’d had only enough romantic experiences to whet her appetite for the real and true lasting thing. I, on the other hand, had spent the last few years of my life in and out of dysfunctional relationships. I was tired. I was cynical. I wasn’t so sure there was anything better to hope for.
We wiped our salty hands on napkins and threw away our trash. My friend looked at me, still skeptical: “you really think so?”
I thought about my parents and their thirty-year, mostly happy, marriage. I knew it was possible, but was it worth it? Was it worth all the angst of hoping for it, of being disappointed when relationships failed? It seemed a lot easier to make my life exactly what I wanted it to be, all by myself. I could help a lot of people, I could live a fulfilled life. And I wasn’t so sure that the kind of guy I wanted even existed anymore. I slurped my Coke through the straw. “I think so.”
A few months later Eric asked me out. I dutifully accepted out of courtesy but sat smug across the booth from him, buzzed off the power that came with knowing he wanted it to work and I didn’t. I liked him enough; he seemed like a guy with integrity anyway. But he didn’t know about my inner resolve. He didn’t know that I had given up on the idea of marriage, and that I was too doubtful to have my mind changed.
But then he just kept coming around. He kept being a good friend to my friends and, yes, even to me after I declined any more dates. As the weeks and months rolled on, I had to admit that maybe he was the right kind of guy after all. But still I held my ground. What was the point of getting married? I wanted to be a mom, but I could adopt some kids on my own. I didn’t need a romantic relationship to inevitably let me down, to maybe not last forever. And even if it did, would all the drama that comes with relationships be worth it?
Almost a year after our first busted date, I began to crack. I liked him; really liked him. Maybe my resolve was actually just fear of getting hurt? Or maybe it was flat out lazy unwillingness to put in the work that human relationships require? I started taking a good hard look at myself and only became more confused.
Then I found myself at a conference where the speaker was talking about sexual wholeness for those of us with sordid pasts. He said, “you are a good gift for someone” and the phrase stuck in my head like it had roots. As I wrote his words down on the notepad that I’d brought with me, my hand kept writing and it felt like my brain was just trying to keep up.
I had written and that means someone else is a good gift for you. And just like that, I knew that marriage was more hopeful than I had allowed myself to believe. Just like that, I knew I could get married. I knew I wanted to, and I needed to. And 8 months later, I did.