Jonathon and I got married after 8 weeks of dating.
Well, actually, we probably get married after less than 8 weeks of dating. You see, the trajectory of our romance was to meet at Barnes & Noble for a “coffee thing”, then meet up a week later after I got back from Guatemala for a “dinner thing” (at which we made out like teenagers) and then to tell ourselves that we were just Friend-Fucking (that’s an Anjali original, don’t steal it) until one weekend away when we admitted our feelings to each other. And even after that, I had a freakout. So we probably got married after about 6 and a half weeks of dating, but let’s go with 8 for a nice round number’s sake: 8 weeks is the exact amount of time between our first true date – our dinner date – and our wedding. 8 weeks from our first kiss to our wedded bliss. (Go ahead, puke. I’ll wait.)
Since we actually got married after 8 weeks, and we were engaged for 3, that means we decided to get married after approximately 5 weeks of being “together” – whatever that word actually means. Because it wasn’t 5 weeks of coupledom, it was 5 weeks of Friend-Fucking and goofing off and occasional dates. It was 5 weeks of doing whatever the fuck we were doing, but falling madly in love doing it. Just 5 weeks.
So the question is as follows: are we nuts? Maybe, but I actually think we’re incredibly sane and in this blog, I’m going to tell you why. Here’s the crux of it: we went into our marriage knowing that we had everything in the world to learn and nothing in the world to rely on.
I’ll start at the beginning: I’ve never been a fan of the “American” path of dating to marriage, nor, truly, have I really been a fan of the “Indian” path. In the American culture, we pick a person, we date them for what we or they or our families view as an “appropriate” amount of time, then we get engaged, then we stay engaged for another “appropriate” amount of time as we plan our giant circus of a wedding, then we get married, feeling at least comfortable that we know everything there is to know about a person and that we won’t find any surprises along the way. We don’t actually analyze the similarity of backgrounds or possibilities of a marriage working from a logical standpoint. We date, in the American culture, for years, often 2 or more years before getting engaged. In that time, we think we’re learning everything there is to know about our partner. We think we’re seeing our partner at their best and worst. We think we’re discovering the skills and tools that we’ll need to live our life with our partner and that after our marriage, we’ll just be ready to put them to work.
We’re – and this is the long and short of it – wrong.
But let’s check out the Indian culture before we analyze that more: in the Indian culture, it’s the exact opposite. We (and I’m going to use the term “we” for both cultures because I am both Indian by heritage and blood and American by birthright and upbringing) don’t know our spouses at all, mostly. For the traditional arranged Indian marriage, we meet our spouse maybe once, but the decision of whether to marry is based on how similar their background is to our background, whether our families’ socioeconomic classes align and how beneficial the partnership would be for each of them, and whether we’re at the “marrying age.” Contrary to the American path to marriage, the Indian path is all logical, all analysis: there’s no love, there’s no spark, there’s just an almost business-like transaction of whether two people and their families would be a good fit.
We’re – and this is the long and short of it – wrong there, too.
Marriage, though it may at one time have had this luxury, is no longer just about blind love. And marriage, though it may one time have been, is no longer a pure business transaction.
Though this may not be the most romantic idea in the world, the truth is, it’s somewhere in the middle. Marriage, I think, should be at least a little bit about logic, and whether the two of you, and your families and your companion animals and everything else you are merging, can work well together for a lifetime. It should also, though, be a lot about blind love. After all, when you feel like you’ve met The One – even if you haven’t believed in the idea of The One for your entire life – shouldn’t there be a whole world of whimsy wrapped up in the decision to marry them?
My story with Jonathon, then, is equal parts wild, crazy, unbelievable love mixed in with a true partnership and the ability to see our lives merged successfully for our coming years.
So, what does this all does this all mean for the psychology of deciding to get married after 5 weeks of dating?
Well, because in my mind, deciding to get married after just a few weeks of dating is the perfect mix of my two cultures: you’re given the time and opportunity to realize someone is The One and to see how that spark feels, but then you’re also going in realizing it is actually the biggest transaction of your life – and that you know next to nothing about the person you’re about to call your spouse.
See, Jonathon and I had a least few significant, deep conversations before our wedding where we spoke about what we expected our marriage to look like. Some of those conversations were about real “adulting” issues: things like expectations for communication and space and family and friends and money and careers. Others, though, were just about the view we were both taking on our marriage: the view that we knew almost nothing about each other and that half of the adventure would be learning.
Jonathon and I never lived together before getting married. Jonathon and I barely spent any nights together before getting married! The best we did is a few days in a hotel, going to a rave and sleeping – not exactly real life. We did go on some dates before we decided to get engaged – but we didn’t spend any real time with each other’s families, we didn’t take any long trips together, we didn’t deal with anything that we thought was really, really hard.
What we did do is fall madly in love and realize that we were made just for each other, like two perfect little wholes creating an even bigger, better whole (I don’t subscribe to that “you’re half a person until you find our soulmate” bullshit – he and I were perfect, successful, individually cool people before we met each other and now, we just get to share that. It’s not like we were sub-humans before our coupledom!). And in realizing that we were crazy in love (emphasis on the word crazy), we also realized that we didn’t know shit about each other. We didn’t go in, having spent years together, with the false impression that we know everything there was to know about the other human. We went in looking forward to learning and growing and changing together.
We went in – and this is the critical part – knowing that we were going to find out things that we loved about each other, but also that we were going to find out things that were totally annoying about each other – and that regardless of anything that may come our way, we were going to wake up each morning and choose to love each other all over again.
We’ve been married for two weeks, so of course, we have no idea if the strategy will actually work. But objectively, as a lover of humans and relationships and connections, I think the idea of being ready to learn and deal with new things that come up is better than the idea of thinking you know it all.
We already decided to love each other forever. We also decided we’ll probably hate each other sometimes. And – importantly – we decided that both of those things are totally okay.
So, back to my original question: are we nuts? Well, back to my original answer: maybe, but if we are, it’s nuts in the best possible way, the way that skirts the edge of both sanity and insanity – we’re nuts because we made the decision to get married based purely on raw emotion, but we’re making the decision to stay married forever by accepting we have so much learn and the rest of our lives to do it.