The Key To My Marriage Is Being Married To A Stranger

The Key To My Marriage Is Being Married To A Stranger

*Writer’s Note: The below is a piece that I submitted to a publication, really hoping they would accept it. They did not, and instead of holding on to it and pitching it around, I realized it was important to me, and it was a piece I really enjoyed writing. In that vein, I decided to publish it here.*

I walked into the Barnes & Noble feeling fidgety.

I am normally a fidgeter, in even the best of situations, but I couldn’t remember the last time I had felt so nervous.

“Get it together, Anjali,” I told myself.

How was it possible that the cute boy from high school could make me this nervous at the age of 30? We had barely spoken then – we certainly weren’t friends. And things were so different now: I was happy and successful and had grown a lot since high school. So had he, I’m sure. We were just two adults, meeting for coffee and chatter. Well, if I was being honest with myself, we were two adults meeting for what I hoped would be coffee and chatter followed by some hot no-strings-attached sex. But either way, there should have been no cause for my nerves.

And yet, I felt I was going to explode as I pulled open the double doors to the bookstore.

I texted him, hoping he’d already be there so I could do the “breeze in, sexy as hell” thing.

No response. Crap. I really hoped he’d already be in line at Starbucks ordering, or maybe – even better – sitting at a table looking bored and waiting for me. I didn’t normally like to be late – in fact, my type A lawyer’s personality didn’t let me be anything but a stickler for punctuality – but in this circumstance, I was okay being the one that got to walk in self-assured and relaxed. This was mainly because I was sure he’d be self-assured and relaxed no matter when he arrived, so I wanted to try to be on even footing.

Without a text back from him, I decided to browse through the magazine rack. Before I even made my way over to “Runner’s World,” I felt eyes on me and looked up to find him walking over, even more handsome – though I didn’t understand how this was possible – than I remembered him from high school.

And then, a surprise: by the time he made his way over to me to give me an awkward hug and say hi, I realized he was even more nervous than I was.

Excellent, I thought. There may be the possibility of some hot sex after all.

That evening was spent catching up on each other’s lives and dancing expertly and flirtatiously around the idea of a possible hook up. A week later, after I arrived back from my previously-planned trip out of the States, we went on what I now consider our first official date.

Eight weeks later, we were married.

Despite that we had technically known each other for 15 years by the time we, as high school acquaintances, reconnected at the age of 30, our courtship was anything but traditional. If we had actually “known” and been close to each other for those 15 years, it might have made more sense, as traditional relationships go, but on our wedding day, we were little more than strangers in love that had some friends and a shared hometown high school in common.

To our friends, it seemed like a rushed decision. Everyone was supportive of our union – in fact, most of our friends told us they had never seen each of us so happy or so much ourselves in a relationship. They believed we were meant to be, as did we. They just weren’t sure how to feel about such a quick, non-traditional courtship.

To me, however, the decision didn’t feel as wild. You see, despite being born and raised in the States, I am Indian by heritage. My parents, together almost 35 years now, had an arranged marriage. They were married within six days of their meeting. I am a product of two cultures: one that highly values knowing every last detail about your betrothed before the wedding and one that highly values making it work at any cost.

In the States, the idea of a marriage to someone you haven’t been dating for an “acceptable” period of time is looked down upon. “Acceptable” depends on the circumstance: age, place in life, prior relationships. In any case, though, it’s normally not less than a year. “Traditional” courtships often last a year or more before an engagement and then the engagement itself also lasts a year or more. By the time we walk down the aisle, we feel that we know everything there is to know about our spouse. We’re confident we won’t be surprised and we feel like we’ve given it “enough” time to truly see how we fit as a couple.

In India, by contrast, the couple often are often total strangers before the wedding. Where, in the States, marriage is about two people coming together, in India it is about two families coming together. Arranged marriages are put together based on the perceived compatibility between the two families’ social standing and class, the two partner’s level of education, and the ability of an entire group of people to help make a marriage work. The couple, on their wedding day, hasn’t had much of a say in their union, let alone been given the opportunity to learn everything there is to know about each other.

Which method works best? I’m not sure, but my decision to get married so quickly was certainly a product of being a product of the two divergent cultures.

Jumping into marriage with someone I hadn’t known very long didn’t feel like a mistake. It felt like the best decision I’ve ever made. What I knew about him mattered: that he is easily the kindest human I had ever met, that we always had fun together, that I could talk to him about anything, how he viewed important life topics like marriage and children and monogamy and family, and that I felt deeply and certainly assured of his goodness. What I didn’t know about him didn’t matter: what hand he wrote with, what his favorite color was, how he did the laundry, whether he’d put the toilet seat down. I knew I was going to love some of those new facts and hate some of them. I was prepared for that and prepared to continue loving him anyway.

I had been married once before. A more “traditional” American courtship. We had dated for a year and a half, been engaged for a year, and been married for roughly 10 months before our marriage collapsed under the weight of itself. We shouldn’t have ever been married, clearly, but I often wondered about how much of it had to do with the fact that I married a more “traditional” man – one that believed strongly in the idea that we should “test” our relationship as much as we could before tying the knot.

My now-husband, in contrast, fell in love with me immediately (as I did with him) and was eager and excited to get married (as I was). He didn’t think we needed more “time”, he didn’t think we needed to know all the “details” of each other – he thought all we needed was the knowledge that we were in love, that marriage would be difficult at times, and that we were committed to waking up every day and making the decision to continue loving each other and working on our union.

The decision.

When we first discussed it that way, it felt odd. Love, I had been taught, was supposed to be a free flowing emotion that you easily felt for another human being. Speaking about it in terms of a “decision” didn’t come naturally. I quickly realized, though, that while initial love might be just as it is sold to little American girls through princess stories, marriage was something else entirely. Marriage was the decision to love. The portion of my upbringing that came from my Indian culture helped reinforce that idea, while the portion of my upbringing that came from my American culture helped reinforce the idea that the initial connection was still important.

Marrying an almost complete stranger, curiously, made the idea that we’d have to get up every morning and decide to love each other feel more tenable. We realized that knowing nothing about each other meant that we had to get comfortable with the fact that we knew nothing about each other. And that knowing nothing about each other would be the foundation of our marriage: faced with the certainty that we’d learn many facts about our partner after our marriage, rather than before, we had to prepare for every type of fact – the good, the bad, the ugly, and the completely unforeseen.

Even more oddly: seeing my husband as a stranger endears me more. The very act of seeing your partner at a distance, I learned, actually helps breed intimacy.

In the first month of marriage, I learned that the man I was so nervous to meet at Barnes & Noble that day is right-handed, his favorite color is red, he does the laundry better than I do, and he does put the toilet seat down. I also learned he can’t quite manage to put his socks in the hamper and he isn’t really the best at waking up early.

That same man that I later learned was definitely nervous to meet me at Barnes & Noble learned a few things about his new wife, as well. He learned I’m left-handed, my favorite color is pink, I suck at doing the laundry, and I don’t actually mind if the toilet seat isn’t put down. He also learned that while I can wash the dishes, I can’t manage to put them away, and that I can be a cranky jerk when I don’t get to bed early enough.

The key to our marriage, then, isn’t that we think we know everything there is to know about each other – nor is it that we were together for so long that we think we won’t be surprised. The key to our marriage is that we plan to be surprised, every single day for the rest of our lives.

The key to our marriage is that we’ve already decided the surprises don’t matter.

So will our marriage work? Nothing in life is certain, of course, and though we’re just newlyweds, I think our decision to get married as fast as we did was the right one. I may have essentially married a stranger, but I married a stranger knowing one important detail about him: he has the best heart of anyone I’ve ever met.

Everything else is just a new fact to be learned.

My Marriage Is A Secret Club Of 2 (And I’m Okay With That)

My Marriage Is A Secret Club Of 2 (And I’m Okay With That)

I believe strongly in keeping my marriage sacred.

Now, for those of you that know me, don’t freak out: I haven’t converted to an organized religion. What I mean when I say sacred is this: my marriage is a special, fun, comfortable, loving secret club of two and I want to keep it that way forever.

I’ve noticed, in the few months that Jonathon and I have been married, that although people around our age (late 20s, early 30s) seem to want to get married, not many of us focus really hard on keeping our marriages sacred once we do get married. It’s not that we blatently disrespect our marriges, it’s just that a lot of people fall into the conventional societal habits that can cause a marriage to wilt.

And if you know anything about me, it’s that I hate convention. I don’t believe in doing things that other people do just because other people do them.

In that vein, I realized that Jonathon and I do some very intentional things to keep our marriage a secret club of two and keep it as sacred as possible, so I wanted to talk about them here.

1. We put each other first, all the time.

I have never had to question where I stand with my husband and I know he’d say the same. It sounds like a no-brainer, but too often, couples start to prioritize everything else: their families, their jobs, their extracurriculars.

Between Jonathon and I, it’s not like either of us gives up activities for our marriage. It’s more like we’re both aware that the other would drop anything else for our marriage in a heartbeat. And it’s really, really fucking nice to have that strong partnership with someone.

Putting each other first allows us to maintain our special secret club and it ensures that other people in our lives know that our marriage comes first.

2. We don’t make stupid marriage jokes.

I can’t stand those stupid fucking marriage jokes that people make.

“A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend.
A successful woman is one who can find such a man.”

“Anyone who says their wedding day was the best day of their life, has obviously never had 2 candy bars fall down at once from a vending machine.”

“Marriage is a workshop, where a man works and a woman shops.”

Sure, you might think they are funny, but to me, they just feel like they’re thinly-veiled insults and critiques hurled at married couples. I hate the idea that people think it’s totally acceptable to make crappy marriage jokes to married people because all marriages are supposed to be the same. And I especially hate that married couples sometimes actually make these jokes themselves.

Jonathon and I never make these jokes and we’re a better couple for it. By valuing our marriage and our vows, even when we’re joking with others, we continue to maintain our special, sacred club.

3. We never, ever, EVER badmouth each other to friends or family (even in jest).

We’ve all been around that couple that (a) only has bad things to say about each other when their partner isn’t around and/or (b) makes not-so-subtle jabs at their partner in public. I never want to be either of these couples, and Jonathon and I discussed how important it was to keep our marriage our marriage before we tied the knot.

Interestingly, many people will read this and think to themselves, “I don’t do that” but the truth is that it’s an accepted practice in the American culture to talk about your spouse and their annoying habits kind of willy-nilly to friends. So you may not be intentionally badmouthing them, but every time you say “Oh my husband does this and it really bothers me” or “Oh my wife did this super irritating thing the other day”, you’re letting people into the vulnerabilities of what should be your relationship.

This might be extreme, but I even believe that when you tell other people you and your spouse are constantly fighting, it increases the distance in your marriage.

People do it over coffee or drinks or sports – it’s a very common thing in our culture to talk about your spouse negatively. And it’s far less common to gush over each other and how wonderful you think your spouse is and how happy you are – which is, obviously, bullshit.

Jonathon and I gush about each other every single chance we get, because we’re fucking happy as fuck, we don’t fight at all, and we don’t believe in badmouthing our marriage just to relate to others.

In fact, we’ve even lost friends because of the fact that we’re happy (more on that in another post), which is insane, but speaks to the fact that we’re all used to being miserable just because misery loves company.

As a side note, I’m ALL for therapy. I love therapy, I really believe in it, and I think everyone should do it. That said, I think apart from that, relationships should maintain their sacredness by only speaking positively about each other.

4. We maintain our emotional loyalty just as much as our physical loyalty.

I’m not a huge believer in monogamy – everyone that knows me knows this. That said, I do believe in maintaining the bounds of the relationship the two of you have decided on – so if it’s physical openness but emotional exclusivity, respecting that line is just as important as respecting a traditional monogamous line.

My views on this, I think, are a product of my two cultures. In the American culture, we prioritize independence and freedom from our relationships. In the Indian culture, we prioritize the relationship – marital, familial, or otherwise. What that means in practice is that while American people are more likely to be married and think to themselves, “I can have a close bond with a member of the opposite sex, it’s fine!” Indian people are more likely to think to themselves, “Why put myself in this situation that could confuse feelings? My marriage is the most important, better to value that.”

Although I highly value my own freedom, I realized that as I’ve aged, my views on marriage might be more informed by the Indian side of me. Freedom and openness to everyone and everything is great, but intentionally putting yourself in a shitty situation that could negatively effect your marriage isn’t worth it.

5. We talk about everything.

This morning I literally asked Jonathon if he sometimes wished I’d just shut up. He laughed and kissed me and said of course not – he likes talking as much as I do.

The two of us talk about everything: the sun, the moon, the sky, the weather, the Orange-haired Goblin, politics, food, animal rights, sex, families, friends, school, work…literally everything. It’s one of our favorite things to do to hang out on our couch, doing some of our art that we like, and chatting.

To me, part of the sacredness of marriage is the openness that only exists with your spouse. I would never reveal my deepest thoughts to anyone but him and I expect he feels the exact same way. Maintaining that closeness by talking is really important to keep your relationship sacred.

6. We connect every chance we get.

Jonathon and I have a lot of sex – that much is apparent. It’s not just because we’re both highly sexual (although that’s true, too). It’s because sex is one of the things married couples have that is really special and private and unique to their long-term relationship and it’s a great opportunity to connect.

Jonathon and I also conect a lot in other ways: We have arts and crafts that we like and do together, we workout together, we go to music festivals and travel together. We are always trying to connect with each other in both big ways and little ones and we’re a stronger, happier couple because of it.

7. We respect and support each other – in private and public.

Not only do I call Jonathon “the best husband in the world” on social media a lot, I also say this to him in our apartment a lot. Actually, more than once per day, I’ll just walk up to him and say “Thank you for being the best husband in the world.” I also respect him as an individual first – moreso than just my husband – and I like to support every single thing he does, whether it’s a Board exam for his profession or his first meetup with new friends.

And he’s the same with me. He’s constantly telling me how lucky he feels and how he can’t believe that I picked him. He supports every single whim I have – some days I want to go to med school, other days I want to live in the jungle and he supports it all.

The important thing is that we do this both privately and publicly. It’s always clear to our friends and family how much we respect each other and how much we support each other, and that’s an intentional choice to maintain our marriage unit.

Keeping our marriage sacred was a big priority to both of us when we decided to tie the knot. We even had moments where we were talking about this stuff and looked at each other like “but are we NUTS, though?” Ultimately, we decided that we weren’t nuts and that if we wanted to treat our marriage differently than other people, that was just us being us.

I’m happy we did – because now I get to feel like I have a secret, fun, sleepover, adventurous club with my best friend.

The Psychology Of Deciding To Get Married After 5 Weeks Of Dating

The Psychology Of Deciding To Get Married After 5 Weeks Of Dating

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.

Here’s The Thing About Boundaries…

Here’s The Thing About Boundaries…

Very rarely is it acceptable to be an outright asshole.

Most people don’t take super kindly to other people being rude or obnoxious or straight-up mean, with poor intentions. It’s normally clear how to react in those situations: shut it down.

That said, most people – myself included – aren’t sure how to react in the situation where someone isn’t necessarily trying to be an asshole – and therefore, may have decent intentions – but is coming off like a huge douche.

Over the past two weeks, since just before announcing that I was married, I’ve dealt with several situations where it’s clear to me that someone isn’t intending to be an asshole, but they are sincerely coming off like the world’s biggest one.

And it’s been about one thing and one thing only: my marriage. Surprisingly, many people in my life – both in my “real” life and my digital life – have seemed to have a hard time accepting that I’m married now. And that I have a husband, who is the most important human in my life.

And that – and this is the important one – I have boundaries.

I’m a writer. It’s sometimes what I do for a living and sometimes what I do for fun, but it’s always who I am. And I don’t write publicly because I love the process of getting up early, downing some coffee, and sitting down to pour my thoughts onto the page. I have a private journal for that. I write publicly because I believe in relating to people. I believe in taking down our walls and taking things out of the shadows, and putting things out in the open so that we can all start to realize how similar we truly are and that none of us are “freaks”. I write publicly because I believe in connecting with people, sincerely. I write publicly because I feel like sometimes, I may have some things to say, that are similar to things other people want to say.

I write publicly, truly, because I love getting the emails or Facebook messages or Twitter DMs or Insta chats from someone I’ve never met saying, “Thank you so much for writing about that. It’s something I’ve been struggling with too, and it made me feel better to know that I wasn’t alone.”

I write publicly because I believe that nothing matters at the end of the day except love – and that the way you get to love is through connection.

And these are all the same reasons that I believe in radical honesty: you can’t connect with another human when you have your guard up. You can’t connect with another human when you aren’t being 100% honest about you. And you definitely can’t connect with another human when you are trying to filter yourself.

So I write things. And I encourage people to reach out to me – constantly, whenever they want, about whatever they want. And I respond – constantly. And I love talking to people. And people are my passion.

But here’s the thing – I have boundaries.

Or maybe, let me rephrase and clarify: I have A boundary. 

Let me rephrase and clarify even further: I have A NEW boundary.

I have one really new, really big, really impermeable boundary that I have recently decided I need to be really clear about: Jonathon Richard Nowakowski. My husband. The man whose name I decided to take. The man who let me take his name.

And unfortunately, that hasn’t seemed clear to many people. Perhaps it’s my fault. It likely is my fault. I write about everything in my life – so how could I not write about the biggest thing in my life? I let people into things – my happiness, my sadness, my adventures – so of course, I wanted to let people into the greatest adventure.

But that has led to a situation in which people think that I actually have no boundaries. Because I let people in, it must mean that nothing is off limits, that everything is on the table, that there are no lines which must not be crossed.


There are limits. There are things off the table. And there are lines.

And one of them is my husband.

Over the past couple of weeks, people have made statements and comments and remarks that have not been very respectful of my husband. Or my marriage. Or me.

And people’s responses, when I or my husband ask them not to be so disrespectful or ask them what happened that they thought they could say something like that, have been to point to me, and my writing, and my views on monogamy. “Well, you don’t believe in monogamy so I assumed…” “Well, you wrote about this so I assumed…” “Well, you feel this way about this thing so I assumed…”

Maybe stop assuming. Because here’s the thing, not about me, but about nonmonogamy – and about my marriage: it still has boundaries. And here’s the thing, not about me, but about writing and writers: there are still limits.

Nonmonogamy doesn’t mean a free for all of flirting with me or my husband whenever you want – publicly or otherwise. Nonmonogamy doesn’t mean making derogatory comments about my marriage. Nonmonogamy doesn’t mean my husband and I are constantly searching for our next hookup, and that you can proposition either or both of us anywhere, anytime.

All nonmonogamy means is that we don’t believe that monogamy is the way to go. That’s it. That’s literally it.

And writing about everything, and letting people in to my life, doesn’t mean that people are free to take whatever they want from my life. Writing doesn’t mean that people are free to judge all of my actions – and then tell me exactly what they think. Writing doesn’t mean that people are free to view me as a character in a TV show – if I make a decision they disagree with, they are free to get angry at the writer.

If I’m being totally honest, I’ve wondered, over the past 24 hours, whether to stop writing completely. And whether to take my life offline, because as much as I have wanted to connect with people, it seems that many people don’t know how to connect without trying to take advantage.

We may have gotten married on April Fools’ Day. It may have been after just 8 weeks of being together. It may have been a surprise to some. Nothing about this may be considered normal to society as a whole, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be respected at the same level of the stuff that is considered “normal” to society as a whole.

Nothing about this marriage was done to entertain or impress or surprise others. It was done solely and exclusively to make myself and my husband the happiest we’ve ever been.

Just because I share my experiences with people – and this is my newest, greatest experience – doesn’t mean that the sanctity of my marriage shouldn’t be respected.

For any readers of my blog or friends of mine or Googlers of me, know this: it’s a really difficult thing to write about everything in your life so openly. It takes effort and time and mental energy. It’s done very intentionally, to connect with others.

And it’s disappointing when people take advantage of that, without first stopping to think whether or not they are being inappropriate or disrespectful or just plain rude. It may be done with the best of intentions, or it may be done as a joke, or it even may be done to push my boundaries and see which ones I actually have – but it’s still not a nice thing to do, at the end of the day, when it comes off as callously inconsiderate of something I really care about.

How I feel about writing or monogamy generally or sex or drugs or relationships generally or raves or swinger’s clubs or puppies or veganism or fitness or politics or racism or anything else you can think of is simply that: it’s how I feel about it. It’s what I’ve written about it. It’s completely open for you to ask me about and discuss with me. And I will literally never shut any discussion down about my views on things because I believe in love and connection.

My husband, though, and my marriage, are totally different topic areas. I write about him, I write about us, and I will continue to. And I hope people talk to me about it and ask me about it. But unlike the general topics I mentioned above, there will come a time I will shut discussions down. There will come a moment, if I’m engaging with someone being disrespectful of him or us, that I will say enough is enough. Just because I’ve written about certain things doesn’t give you an open pass to the most important thing in my life.

If you’re one of those people wondering about how to behave with a nonmonogamous couple where the wife is an open writer about all things personal: do yourself a favor and consider my marriage closed. No, we won’t be sleeping with you or flirting with you or discussing our life with you.

So for anyone that I may know in the digital world or in real life that may be wondering whether it’s appropriate to make shitty comments about my views on monogamy to my husband: it’s not. For anyone that I may know in the digital world or in real life that may be wondering whether it’s appropriate to hit on my husband while I’m standing right there: it’s not. For anyone that that I may know in the digital world or in real life that may be wondering whether it’s appropriate to continue to hit on me, just because of “how I feel about monogamy”: it’s not.

And especially for anyone that I may know in the digital world or in real life that wonders whether I actually have any boundaries: I do. And once again, his name is Jonathon Richard Nowakowski.

So I am going to continue writing about things that matter to me and I’m going to continue letting people in, because I believe strongly in it. In fact, even this post was a difficult one for me to write because I always want to give people the benefit of the doubt. I think most people are just struggling with their own shit and trying to do their best and I want to acknowledge that and help people grow and move forward, as I grow and move forward. It takes a lot for me to actually get angry about something and stop giving people chances.

I am a person that likes to push societal boundaries – but that doesn’t mean I don’t have my own. Everyone should feel free to push the boundaries of their own life, but also respect the boundaries that other people have.

So I’ll keep writing.

But from now on, I’m also going to be much clearer about where the line is drawn. I may have changed a lot in the past year of traveling and blogging and writing and my opinions on things may have grown and developed in unexpected directions and my marriage might be a thing that came totally out of the blue to some people, but to me, the line is clear: my husband, and my marriage, are off limits to your interpretation or your disrespect or your unsolicited opinion.

A (True) Story About A Traveler Who Hates Commitment

A (True) Story About A Traveler Who Hates Commitment

Once upon a time, there was a girl.

We’ll call her Schmanjali. (*Editor’s note: this name and story are completely fictionalized so any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental.) (*Editor’s second note: I’m lying.)

Schmanjali was a really fun chick, sometimes. She was pretty scared of a lot of things, but she did them anyway. She was pretty unsure of what direction she wanted to take most of the time, but she normally picked a direction and went for it anyway. She didn’t believe in “adulting” – as a concept – so she chose to just live life having the most fun possible, all the time.

Schmanjali was also a little wacky. Despite that she loved to have fun, she also had a couple of things that she felt really strongly about, that she really didn’t want to change. She was a hippie, and she believed everyone should love everyone all the time. Not so bad, right? Well, she was also fiercely protective of her own freedom, and anything she saw as hindering her freedom she dropped like a bad habit.

In short, Schmanjali was a girl that hated commitment. So she tried not to have any. She left a tied down office job, she didn’t believe in monogamy, she didn’t stay in relationships very long, and she avoided tying herself to other people at all costs.

What was interesting about Schmanjali, though, is that despite that she hated being tied to people, she actually did tie herself to people, a lot, intentionally. Schmanjali believed strongly that the only thing that matters in life is our connection to and relationships with other people. So she hated commitment – but she loved connections to others? Schmanjali liked to have a big circle of friends – not acquaintances that she spoke to once a year – but true friends that could call her at any time for anything. Schmanjali also often happily made a lot of new friends.

And Schanjali had a puppy that she loved very much. A puppy that happened to be sick with liver issues and required lots of pills every day and very specific care.

Schmanjali was also really close to her family. She had an older brother, and younger sister, and two parents who were all amazing people. And like all families do, sometimes this family went through things where they needed each other. Once, Schmanjali’s dad had to have open heart surgery, so of course, she went to be with him. And when these things happened, Schmanjali didn’t feel committed, or bound, or tied down to the needs of a family. She just felt love.

So, one day, after Schmanjali had quit her job to travel full-time, she planned a trip to South America. And she was really excited about that trip. And she made all kinds of plans and reservations and had events to go to and things to see. And she couldn’t wait.

But then, a wrench: just before the trip, Schmanjali fell in love. And she freaked out, because she thought romantic love and relationships always meant feeling tied down. But then something interesting happened: the man Schmanjali fell in love with told her that he loved her because she loved her freedom, not in spite of it. And he told her nothing about how he felt about her would change, so that she should continue being her and going on trips and being happy in whatever way she wanted and he would still love her, even if they weren’t together. And he told her that even if she chose not to be in a relationship with him (because she didn’t really like traditional relationships), he would still intensely value and love her and be happy that she existed.

Schmanjali had never heard that before. Normally, men wanted her to commit, immediately and without reservation. And when she didn’t want to, they didn’t even want her as a friend. So she had learned to be skeptical and she had learned to hate commitment even more. But this man reacted way differently than anyone ever had before.

So Schmanjali was surprised: she didn’t think it was possible to be in love but also still feel free. But she was happily surprised. So she kept planning her trip and looking forward to it excitedly.

Then, another wrench, this time bigger: Schmanjali’s baby sister got hurt. And she had to have a second surgery for her hurt, right before Schmanjali’s South America trip. And it didn’t go so well, so when she got out, she couldn’t walk. For about four weeks. And Schmanjali realized that she wasn’t going to end up taking her South America trip.

So, she cancelled it.

But Schmanjali didnt feel bad. She felt a little bummed, perhaps, but she didn’t feel suffocated or bound or committed. She had never had to cancel a trip for anyone else before, but still, she didn’t mind it. She realized she’d rather be at home with her baby sister, while she healed, getting to spend time with her family as they all dealt with this crappy situation.

And when she realized all of this, Schmanjali also realized that she had been looking at everything like an immature child.

Freedom, of course, would always be Shmanjali’s number one value. That, likely, would never change. But Schmanjali thought she was living life by avoiding commitment as much as possible. She hadn’t – she was wrong. She had actually been living life committed to a lot of things, and a lot of people, and a lot of plans for the future with those things and people. And puppy.

So at some point, she realized that freedom didn’t mean a lack of commitment. Freedom just meant the ability to choose your path, and sometimes, your path included lots of commitments to lots of people. Not because they demanded it. Just because you loved them fiercely.

Schmanjali’s path of commitment may never again include being tied to stupid shit – like a 9-to-5 job or soul-sucking tradition. But it would likely include commitment to other humans and animals, and maybe even traditions that she dressed up and made her own.

So is it an unfortunate cliche that a life of travel often means you discover more about yourself than about foreign destinations? Yes, probably. But is the self-discovery also really important? Yes, probably.

Schmanjali figured that out somewhere along the way.

And then did she live happily ever after, no matter what life threw at her?

Yes, definitely.

*Editor’s note: The End.