By ZANNI LOUISE
I spent three weeks with my husband before agreeing to marry him. True story. Here is how it went.
We were both flown in to help install artwork for the 2006 Sydney Biennale – he from Europe, and me from Melbourne. We met under the largest chandelier in the Southern Hemisphere.
He invited me to a steak house one evening, after telling me how he had been a practicing Buddhist for six years, and vegan for most of that time. We ate the biggest steak I have ever seen.
He looked me up in Melbourne a few days after the opening night of the biennale. His moves were swift. He assured me later that he honestly had no intention of sleeping on the swag I had rolled out for him in the living room.
He was easy to be with. Straight forward. There was no game-playing between us. It was the first time a relationship didn’t feel like hard work. He told me that he liked me straightaway. You could do that? I had no idea. I was beginning to enjoy the European way.
After a week together, he told me he loved me, and it wasn’t cheesy. He had just come out of a meditation, and it felt like he was cutting to the chase – saying what was on his mind.
After our brief affair, I had to say goodbye to my European lover. His return flight was booked. I won’t deny I was bereft as I drove him to the international terminal, but we were leaving our options open. Would we see each other again? It was possible. How? We weren’t sure.
After a series of emails and phone calls, we realised we couldn’t live without each other – or at least, we owed it to ourselves to give our relationship a chance. Transcontinental relationships aren’t uncommon these days. But we were in a hurry to be together. He was over 30, so couldn’t get a working holiday visa. I had just started a new and exciting job in Melbourne. Our options were fast decreasing. Once more, he cut to the chase and proposed over the phone. I said yes, and we got to work with temporary visa applications, and marriage preparations.
Friends and family were worried for me. Had I thought about this – clearly? Was this relatively unknown European man worth the fuss? And weren’t we undermining the sanctity of marriage? I remember one friend solemnly lecturing me about the fact that marriage is a step taken only by those who are very serious about committing to each other.
My confidence in myself – in us – was uncharacteristic. I assured our critics that I had given it great thought, and we knew what we were doing.
The pressure from friends and family built, though, as the actual wedding day loomed. I began to worry about it all going pear-shaped, and about losing face if it did.
But we did it – on a hill, on a gusty day, in front of 80 people. Our marriage vows were short, and honest. We promised to support each other to grow as each person needed to grow. After knowing each other for barely six months, it was all we could declare with certainty.
The band played, we drank champagne and danced to Mustang Sally. My godmother gave a speech about the temporariness of love and marriage, and about the importance of living in the moment.
We were lucky. Our instincts were right. But there is something more than luck about our success as a happy couple.
Getting married so early in our relationship meant that we got the waiting and game-playing out of the way. We loved each other and we made a commitment to be together. There was no messing around; one party moving to Europe while the other umm-ed and ahh-ed about the relationship’s future.
Before the wedding, we opened a joint bank account. We pooled our resources. We talked about having kids – he told my mum he wanted kids with me the first time they met. We talked about what would happen if…each possible direction our relationship could take was given the once-over.
I do believe in the sanctity of marriage, and I take every word of the vow we made back then seriously. I don’t believe all marriages last forever, because clearly, they don’t. But I believe in doing everything you can to make a good relationship work. Even if it means getting married.
Seven years and two kids later, no regrets – well, hardly any.
And I’m really glad we took the plunge.
Do you think you could marry someone, after such a short amount of time? Did you have a specific amount of time you wanted to date your partner before getting married?