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Why is marriage so important to you?
When I was a child, my parents ended their relationship with each other. Their relationship had been quite unstable for a long time, but the speed at which things deteriorated to the end terrified me; and the impact of this loss of a "family" of the type that those around me seemed to have had a severe and lasting impact on me and my world-view.
Eversince, I have craved stability and safety in the relationships I have with those around me. I have managed to cultivate long-lasting friendships - which I am immensely grateful for and unbelievably proud of (mainly proud of them for putting up with me even when I find myself unbearable!), and my ties to my family have evolved to be strong in their own (if untraditional) way.
One thing has always filled me with dread though; the idea that when I find someone that I want to raise children with one day, that relationship might not be stable enough.
I understand that marriage is not some magic super-glue that fixes problems and binds you together. I know that really, it is the
work that goes into a marriage, and the way that you build your relationship and communicate with each other - that is what ties people to one another.
However, the idea that both parties would believe that the other is worthy of a life-long commitment, and the idea that two people would promise this to each other in front of all of their family and friends - that has always entranced and attracted me. When you come from a family as fragmented as mine (we stretch out across the world), the idea that marriage represents not only the unity of two individuals, but the unity of families and communities - it seems utterly delicious.
Why has your partner asked you to run a marathon?
I have struggled with depression and anxiety for a really long time. My partner, after battling his own problems, turned to running and found that it enabled him to not only cope with his demons, but trample them into the ground, and thrive. He's been trying to convince me to come running with him the entire seven years that we've been together.
About two years into the relationship, I joined him on a run, but was heckled by a group of blokes. My partner was ahead of me, and didn't hear, and I felt both completely alone and unsafe. As someone who already had major hang-ups about my fitness and body-image, it put me off running in public completely.
In 2018, my brilliant and inspiring sister ran a marathon. My mum and I shot accross London with codine, water, and jelly babies, and the atmosphere was incredible - I was completely inspired. As she ran, I tried to join her for approximately ten seconds, and despite her being on her 18th mile - I just could not keep up. I became increasingly despairing about my fitness level and my "inability" to run; but secretly, I told my partner, I wished I could do one.
For the same length of time that he had been nagging me to go running, I had been equally vocal about the idea of marriage - and at the start, so was he. But after four years together, it emerged that he wanted to not get married with the same intensity that I did.
I had to make a decision. Stay in a long-term, loving, stable relationship with the person I loved most in the world,
or leave him for someone who wanted to get married.
Obviously, the idea of forcing someone to do something that they simply did not want to do - for all my joking and nagging - was not something I was willing to bully him into. So I began to accept that the stability and the love that we had for each other was more important than marriage.
I continued to joke, constantly, about how silly he was for not realising what an incredible wife I would make. I'd ask him "
but if I won a million pounds would you marry me? You'd get half!" or "
but if literally everyone you knew got married, would you marry me?" or "
but if we are together for 50 years, would you marry me".
His responses varied from "
I love you, and want to be with you forever, I want to raise kids with you and grow old with you, I just hate the idea of marriage" to "
I would literally rather die than get married". Some were serious conversations, some were silly ones, but the result stayed the same. We were going to love each other, but we would not get married.
Then, six months ago, after my sister's marathon and some beers with some friends, he turned to me and said:
"If you ran a marathon, I'd marry you."
I had assumed that it was a joke, but six months later, after many more conversations, he is still saying that he will honour his word.
So I bought some running shoes, and found a gym I feel safe in, and started this blog.