Jon showed up at my parents' door on a week night when I was away at Davis. He had notes in hand, a smile on his face. The moment had come. He sat in the living room with my folks to ask their blessing before he asked me to marry him.
Mom helped pick Dad's jaw up off the floor.
Since I wasn't there, I can only say that Jon emerged alive and not at all dissuaded from his original purpose. And I can report that the first phone call I received after the meeting was from my father.
"Audrey, do you understand what it means to be married? Have you gone through the scenarios? Asked the questions? Do you have the faintest idea of the ups and downs, the gravity of the decisions?!" (Insert scary Jaws-type music here.)
Dad already thought the world of my guy, but I am, after all, his only daughter. What's a man to do? Some dad's bite their nails, others hire mobsters... Mark Edward Pancoast is a list man. His answer to any problem: make a list . Pros and Cons. Grocery. To Do. Laundry. Destinations. Chores. In this case he called to make sure that I had a list prepared of questions for Jon and I to ask of one another before we decided on something so permanent.
The fact was that Jon and I had talked about marriage a lot. We'd known all along, in fact, that our love was destined for matrimony. But Dad has always had a talent for scaring the living daylights out of me by using his BIG voice, throwing around HUGE words and basically strangling me with hyperbole.
I wrote out a list.
Then Jon called.
"I told your parents that I am going to ask you to marry me."
"How do you know?"
"Because I have been given homework."
Together we ran through the rough list I came up with that night. Most of the questions were simply more specific than the ones we'd discussed previously. Of course, some were unnecessary. Others were fun. Others made us get very quiet and serious.
I want to be cremated and Jon doesn't want to talk about death.
Jon refers to the nearest child as "it", and I, though far from maternal, do feel a little warmth in my heart when I see cute baby hats in boutiques in downtown Pleasanton.
Anyway, my brother, Ted, has announced to my family that he is engaged! Exciting? Yeah! Scary? In so many ways... He doesn't read my blog, so this isn't necessarily for his benefit. But today I came across this list, done almost exactly 2 years ago as I prepared to say "yes" to an eternity with one good man.
1. Define love.
2. Do you love me?
3. How many children do we plan on having?
4. How far apart should they be in age?
5. What will we do if one of our children is born with a physical/mental disability?
6. Which is more important: having expensive cars or investing money for our future?
7. Are we doing the right thing?
8. Is there anything about yourself that you hope I never find out?
9. If one of us meets an unexpected failure in education or work, how will that affect our relationship?
10. Will you share my crazed enthusiasms just because they are mine?
11. Will you require me to share your enthusiasms?
12. What does my family do that annoys you?
13. If we have two cars, who gets to drive the new one?
14. If there's an issue in our relationship that could cause a divorce, what is it?
15. If we were to eliminate our physical attraction to each other, what would we have left?
16. What is our most important joint goal?
17. Do we have a plan in the event that one of us gets too angry?
18. How would you describe yourself?
19. How do you think I see you?
20. Are you a saver or a spender?
21. Do you consider going to the movies together/going on vacation every year a necessity or a luxury?
22. What are our financial goals?
23. How will we make decisions together?
24. Are we both willing to face difficult areas, or do we try to avoid conflict?
25. How important is it to maintain intimacy in a relationship?
26. Are you comfortable expressing your sexual likes and dislikes?
27. What kind of birth control do you want to use?
28. Do you believe there are different levels of forgiveness?
29.If we fail at having children, how long do you want to wait before we consider other options?
30. Would you consider adoption? Invetro?
31. What is your parenting philosophy?
32. What is your definition of commitment?
33. If you are in an accident which results in you being in a coma, do you want me to keep you on life support?
34. If an accident happens in which I end up in a coma, will you have a problem taking me off of life support?
35. Do you plan to continue to romance me after we're married?
36. How important is that to you?
37. Is there anything in our relationship you would like to change before we're married?
38. What do you expect of me as your wife?
39. How do you define the role of the husband?
40. On a scale of one to ten, how patient would you say I am?
41. How patient are you?
They're all good questions, ones that I now think people should ask of their significant others long before marriage even enters the equation. But my list is incomplete! Why did I spend so much time wondering about the "kid thing"? What's with the death questions? I mean, there is so much more important stuff that comes up just in the first 18 months under the same roof.
42. Who gets to choose if your boxers have waaaaaay outlived their prime, thus rendering them to the fate of the garbage can?
43. How many times will you clean up the disgusting things that make me feel sick to my stomach before you go on strike and I am forced to grow up and put dishes in the dishwasher before the mold sets in?
44. Do you have a problem with sleeping facing me?
45. Who is in charge of making sure that we don't sleep ALL day?
46. If I hypothetically forget to put gas in the car, how upset will you actually be?
47. On a desert island you can bring me and a board game. Which board game do you choose? (No, Halo does not count as a board game. No, you can't bring two board games and not me.)
48. Whose parents' do we spend the different holidays with?
49. When we enter a room and I flip on the light, will you always turn it off when you come in directly behind me? Leaving me then to wander aimlessly in the pitch blackness with my hands out, praying that I don't trip and break my neck...
50. Is it that you're incapable of putting the new roll of toilet paper on the roll when the last one is exhausted?
51. Will the eventual sharing of previously and amazingly hidden natural bodily functions turn me into more of a "roommate" than a "girlfriend"?
52. Define date.
53. Do you consider me high maintainence? Low maintainence? High maintainence, but I think I'm low maintainence?
54. Why do you consider Simpsons/Family Guy/Other Crap good TV?
55. If I promise not to leave my trimmed toenails on the coffee table, will you please, please, please promise not to bring your stinky climbing shoes into the house?
56. Are you prepared to bear my wrath if/when you beat me at Scrabble? (For the record, he trounced me in the game we played as I wrote this.)
Okay, so none of these things are really THAT important. But they are worth considering. Even asking aloud. If you haven't... have fun with it. We did.
As a final note, marriage is about answers, too. Who will be beside me every morning? Jon. Who will massage his back after a long day's work? Me. How many times will I forget to put the grape juice back in the refrigerator? A thousand. Will Jon be able to deal with that every single time? Absolutely. Who gives us the stamina and wisdom to make it through the rough times and the simple times? God. Family. Friends.
I love when the BIG questions get answered.