E. and I are not married. Both of us had mini-marriages- that is , a short term marriage which you undertake at a point in your life where you are too young and too stupid to know better than to shackle yourself to a wholly unsuitable individual for the rest of your days.
Mini-marriages end approximately a year and half later when you realise that it may be embarrassing announcing the divorce to all the people who you have not yet got around to thanking for the wedding presents, but that you are willing to suffer any amount of social humilation to secure your freedom and sever any connection to the unfortunate match.
I managed to extract myself from my brief and unsuccessful marital state with a relatively minimal amount of fuss and bother. The Ex slunk off with that long hangdog look on his face that used to bug me so much, found himself a new girlfriend within 2 months, and is now happily married to her. In fact, I keep waiting for him to e-mail announcing his impending fatherhood or somesuch. So, except for the minor inconvenience of having burned all bridges and emigrated to a foreign country to live him, it was all pretty much OK.
E. did considerably less well out of his mini-marriage. His fruitloop of an ex-wife (well, I am sure he drove her crazy as only he can) made off with (shock!) half of everything and perhaps a bit more. Worse, she left him with a bad taste in his mouth when it came to relationships, women, and matrimony. Even worse, she has the same name as me!
We have been together for five years, and during that time, there have been various discussions about our unmarried state. He has made it clear that he is in no particular rush to get married, ever. This has led to a series of tantrums on my part. For all my proclamations of how unconventional I am, I really want to get married. To him. And his refusal to do so irritates me. The more I push about it, the more resistant he has become to the whole notion.
You want me to be the mother of your children, but you don't want to marry me?
That's right, he says. Although I would probably marry you if we did have kids.
OK, so no extra pressure there.
My mother, who frequently expresses thoughts out loud like "You can't hold onto your man," and "how are you going to have a baby? you're divorced!" would probably fall over in a faint if E. and I ever did get married. Secretly she thinks he's never going to commit, that he's off womanising in the Other City when he's not with me, that he's going to dump me the first chance he gets. E. simply rolls his eyes when I tell him this, and says (quite rightly, too) that my mother's insanity is simply not inducement enough to wed.
For the most part I have given up though. Marriage has begun to feel like something that will happen, or it won't. Except I think I can live with the idea of never being married again. I did that, I had the big meringue dress, the candlelit venue, the cheesy disco. And although I know a wedding to E. would be infinitely more special, because I love him with every fiber of my being, a part of me can rest on the memory of the wedding that was. Because I know he loves me back, and our life together is whole and fine and good as it.
Plus, we have a joint mortgage, how much more commitment does one need?
I'm not so sure I can live without ever having children. I'm not sure how whole and fine and good things are going to be if the worst case scenario comes to pass. And I wonder, during those really dark 2am moments when you find yourself confronting the worst thoughts- if maybe it would be all too easy for him to leave me after all, for someone more fertile. Proving my mother right in the bargain.