I met my wife on a hiking trip. We were both staying at the same lodge with our significant others and there was an immediate attraction. The four of us hung out one night and we had a good time. I used that as a pretext to get their phone numbers so that we could “stay in touch.” I got up the nerve to text her and see if she’d like to get a drink, but I left it nebulous. I wanted it to be open to interpretation— so that if I’d misread her cues, I could always say I’d meant that all of us should go out for drinks. I shouldn’t have been so nervous about it. She wrote back, “I thought you’d never ask!”— and of course things naturally progressed from there.
I’ve always thought that this was a very dishonest way to start a relationship, a harbinger of trouble ahead. Her response, in retrospect, seems so flippant, so dismissive of her five-year relationship. At the time, I made excuses for her — for us both. Maybe both of our relationships were stale. Maybe it was kismet that we meet. I romanticized it.
Even so, I was always honest with her. I remember that one of the very first things we talked about was our respective thoughts on marriage and children. I told her that I didn’t really believe in marriage and that I was certain I didn’t want children. We had a hyper-intellectual conversation on the merits of not getting married “for the sake of a piece of paper.” She told me that she absolutely agreed — that marriage, in its original form, was a transfer of women as property between families, that it was an outdated and offensive institution. I’m not sure my approach was quite as feminist, but I was impressed by her, nonetheless. She seemed really grounded and sure of herself, and I’d always sought out women like her. I find that the more weighed down I feel, the less independent my partner is, the more I feel suffocated.
She is a couple of years older than I am, and I initially enjoyed that she was two steps ahead of me. In our relationship, she made the plans, she called the shots, and I was perfectly okay with letting her lead. I got comfortable in this role because we always had a good time and even though our years together were adding up, things never felt too serious, too heavy. So I think I got caught unawares.
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