Something odd happens when you live with a lawyer (at least it did to me). Your reasoning skills tend to sharpen. Your arguing skills (not as in fighting, as in making a point) may become heightened. And your ability to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat can become both more frequent and more satisfying. This post is not about that. While it is about my having to make a compelling argument to B., it’s really about how he made my argument for me. Score.
When B. and I began seeing each other 20-plus years ago (after having known each other since we were teenagers), it took us both only a short time to realize that this was “it.” I moved out to California from New York to be with him and marriage was something we mentioned occasionally. About two months after I moved in, B.’s instinct to question, his endless curiosity, and his need for a reasonable rationale (redundant?) kicked in. And the conversation went something like this:
He: So why is it that we need to get married?
Me: (Diet Coke snorting out of my nose) Excuse me?
He: No, really. I love you. I’ll always love you. We’ve already decided not to have kids. So why exactly is it that we need to get married?
He: I’m not at all opposed to marriage. I just need a compelling reason for why it’s necessary. I know lots of couples who have been together for years without being married.
He: No, not what. Why?
He: Not what, not who, not when, not where. Why? What’s the compelling reason?
Me: Uh … because I want to be able to call you my husband, not my boyfriend at this point?
He: Not good enough. You can just introduce me by my name.
Me: Because I want us to be a family — you, me, and the dog?
He: Nope. We’d still be a family; in fact, we are one already.
Me: (pivoting) Want to order in Chinese?
He: Not yet … let me ask you one more thing.
Me: (Oh no, the man who questions the meaning of life in the shower each morning has yet another question.)
He: If I told you that I was committed to you forever — and I am — but that I was opposed to marriage for some reason, would you leave me?
Me: (waiting less than a nanosecond to respond) Of course not.
He: (looking like a delighted little kid) Really?
Me: It’s you I want. Everything else is secondary. But I do want to get married because I love you and want to spend the rest of my life with you. It’s a feeling thing.
He: That’s an emotional reason; I’m looking for logic.
Me: (running out of the room screaming, in dire need of chocolate)
A few days later, we were visiting a friend of B.’s who happened to be newly divorced and didn’t hold marriage in the highest esteem at the time. B. laid out the entire “compelling” case to his friend, who was only too happy to jump on the “marriage sucks” bandwagon.
All of a sudden, B. had an epiphany. I know this because a) he said so and b) a lightbulb went on over his head (okay, the ceiling fan, but still).
He: Wait, I’ve got it. I’ve got my compelling reason.
Friend: No, man, what are you doing? Marriage means nothing. You’ve won the argument. Stop talking now.
He: No, I’ve got it.
Me: (peeking my head out from under the chair where I’ve slunk down, thinking I don’t have a friend in the room)
He: (turning to me) The compelling reason is I’m not opposed to marriage, it’s important to you, and I love you — I would do it for those reasons alone. Why are you under the chair?
Friend: (dubiously) That’s it?
Me: (excitedly) That’s it?
He: That’s it.
Me: (pivoting before B. changes his mind) Can we order in pizza now?
I couldn’t have asked for better evidence of B.’s love for me than that. And if you ask him, he’ll tell you that my commitment to stay with him — marriage or no — was Exhibit A in forming his compelling reason.
In life, we do things for lots of reasons. Love is the best one that I can imagine.
No doubt about it.
ⓒ 2017 Claudia Grossman