The ever wonderful friend/cousin/mommy-of-Kristina's-favorite-person-to-visit-Quinn/sender-of-delicious-cookies/missionary/minister LauraJean asked a simple question in response to my blog post about how marriage should be more like divorce.
As she was the person who both married us and insisted on us doing a little long distance pre-marital counseling, her asking how would I have reacted to those very questions when I was getting married held a lot of weight for me.
After all, she just might get to marry me again some day, and just might be crafty enough to ask just that.
But it hasn't been an easy question to answer, because the straight up response is simply "I don't know".
And that's a really crummy answer to give her!
So I've been really trying to give her something else, something more, something better than that.
I've written out a very long and detailed story chronically in great detail how Peter and my relationship came about and how his involvement with the military really had a heavy hand in shaping it's progression. But then at the end of it, I'm back to the mindset of where I was when we got married, but I still don't have an answer for her.
So please read the following with understanding and encouragement, the subject matter is not an easy one to deal with.
How would I have reacted to someone demanding I make a full and thorough financial evaluation with this partner? I would have balked at the idea, and then tried to get Peter to do it (he did take a major in economics, after all, while I picked my major solely to avoid being required to take Intermediate Micro), and finally done it myself when he didn't and would have found it to be a painfully unsavory requirement.
But I would have genuinely tried to do it. Honestly, I probably would have managed to fail horribly at coming up with a reasonable family budget, as numbers and I are not friends and we do not play well together, but I would have handed her some scrap of paper with the basic financial information on it and might have even had some clue of what was truly our family financial situation. You know, instead of how it was where as long as there was enough money to pay mortgage and buy food I didn't pay any attention to bank accounts.
How would we have planned for children? I think the only thing I've proven worse at budgeting than money is children. Not to say I don't do a reasonable job taking care of my girls, but I never PLANNED my parenting. And the few slight preconceived notions I had of how things would go were so comically wrong, I'm not entirely sure that parenting on the fly is truly a bad thing for me.
However, it would have been nice to actually have Peter involved in some of it. I liked having complete executive power over everything dealing with it at the time, but that both left him feeling unneeded and only encouraged his lack of interest in the girls, and overall it just wasn't good for having a fully integrated family unit. So it probably would have been nice to be in a situation where he was forced to do something more than just agree with whatever I said or did in regards to having children. Like, BEFORE we had children... which is still a somewhat mute point as I was seriously pregnant when we got married..... but those are small details in the matter.
How would we have structured holidays and vacations? I actually did always like the idea of hosting the big family gathering for Christmas, and we had fallen into the routine of visiting his extended family's Thanksgiving celebration before we were ever married, so much of that came to be probably very similarly to how we would have said we wanted it to be on paper.
You know, while also ignoring reality details like how having large quantities of our parents in small confined spaces with me for any length of time starts to stress me out a TON. Mostly because everyone else is stressed. So then I get stressed about other people being stressed. Bah, too much adult stress, not enough unadulterated joyfulness running about. Dammit, I like my holidays JOLLY.
How would we have worked together as a couple? Well see, this one I really don't know about, because we don't do it very well with most things. But I suppose either we would have figured it out and then had a much better (or at least longer) marriage, or we would have realized that he doesn't like it when I have to nag him and I don't like it when he doesn't get his part done and that perhaps this wasn't the symbiotic relationship of our dreams.
How would I have defended myself to the world on the choice of marriage? Well, ironically, I spent the first 6 months defending why we didn't HAVE TO get married just because I was pregnant. Until I finally just gave up and figured we might as well get married anyways, since everyone wanted us to and I wasn't coming up with any good reasons against it beyond the ideological "having a baby together is a crappy reason to get married" which nobody ever seemed to listen to.
So I'm going to say it again. Here. Now.
(Not that it matters any more or that anyone is going to be listening to me more than did before, but just being able to SAY it makes me feel better.)
Getting pregnant together is a crappy reason to go get married right then. If the guy is a decent human being, he will be there to support the mother and child to the best of his abilities regardless of whether he signed piece of paper committing to such. If he's not going to stick around and be involved in their lives, a legal status saying he should isn't going to make him do so.
A marriage does not make a family, and the lack of a marriage does not mean there is the lack of a family. And the part of the world still saying otherwise is wrong.
So there you have it, my best attempt to answer the simple question of how I would have reacted to those anything-but-simple thoughts I had about a better pre-marriage screening process.
If the process to get married was as much of a pain as the process to get divorced has been (and assuming there wasn't extraordinary circumstances like pregnancy and the resulting world breathing down your neck about why aren't you getting married every 12 seconds), I highly doubt Peter and I would have every gotten married.
Hell, we've barely managed to get ourselves divorced....
[Side note: as I'm sure at least a few of you have been wondering (especially those of you keep asking me about it) we have been scheduled for what is supposed to be our final hearing set in court the third week in February.]