So eight years ago, on 29th February, I asked Jack out and he said yes. And then some years elapsed where we decided the relationship was in fact serious and long-term, and I moved back to England and we had lots of detailed discussions and eventually got engaged. Four years ago, on 29th February, we did not exactly celebrate the anniversary of getting together, because we were too busy getting married. So today is a day that I couldn't have begun to imagine in 2008, and seemed impossibly far away even in 2012: our first ever wedding anniversary.
I never expected to get married and celebrate wedding anniversaries. And I never expected that jack would be a life partner, rather than a friend I was somewhat attracted to and hoped to have fun with. Which is why I didn't overthink the relationship from the beginning; he didn't really tick the boxes that I might have insisted on if I were actually looking for a partner. Though tbh I hadn't really thought through very carefully what sort of partner I was looking for; I wasn't really interested in a long-term relationship, and I didn't particularly expect anyone would want to marry me, given that I'm childfree and not especially rich or especially attractive and not terribly good at or inclined to wifework / emotional labour / whatever we're calling it these days. And I'm an academic, so I assumed that I'd spend most of my 20s and 30s moving around the world from one short-term contract to another.
It's hard to put my finger on when the relationship became one we were committed to and when we started having hopes for the future. I know when I was job hunting in 2009 I was putting quite a high priority on a job in the UK so that I could be a bit nearer to jack. Probably round about the same time we decided we were poly, round about 2010 ish. I got together with my sweetie in then, at the time not knowing this was going to be a long-term relationship rather than just a fling, but anyway, that's not the topic of this post. We started talking marriage at around the same time, summer 2010, and actually announced we were engaged right at the start of 2011.
At the time we got married in 2012, I'd been in my shiny tenured job 2½ years, and was hoping it would be permanent, though even back then I was struggling to get funding. jack was in a bit of a tricky situation job-wise; some of my relatives were saying that I shouldn't marry someone who was unemployed, which was not relevant, I wasn't looking for a husband to "keep" me, but I also thought correctly that jack had marketable skills and would almost certainly find a decent job fairly soon. At that time we intended to carry on living apart; jack had spent some time trying to find a job close to me in Stoke and turned up absolutely nothing, whereas he had plenty of opportunities in Cambridge. It was a bit unconventional getting married when we didn't intend to live together, but we were pretty confident it was the right thing.
By late 2013, though, we'd realized that we wanted to be more part of eachothers' lives. Again, lots of talking and discussing. I was inspired by a work colleague who had sold her house and moved into a flat on campus so that she could buy a place with her husband who had an academic job on the other side of the country. In fact jack and I were able to follow that example, it took us most of a year to sort out my moving onto campus, and selling my old place, and finally buying our home together in Cambridge. So we're still long-distance, but we also live together at least part of the time, and that transition has been really good for us. Of course, only a couple of months after that big change, another one came into our lives: we started dating ghoti and cjwatson and the network of relationships fast coalesced into a quad.
So the shape of my relationship with jack has changed fairly dramatically several times in our eight years together. Definitely more gradually, but certainly noticeably looking back, the balance has shifted to a point where jack is more successful in his career and probably more committed to it than I am with mine. Anyway we've grown more and more together, more of a team through all of them. Planning the wedding was a great exercise in learning to handle a major project together, as was buying the house. Mind you, we haven't really dealt with any major hardships or problems, nor the kind of massive shift in a relationship that comes with having children, but still. I have really deep confidence in jack to support me both emotionally and practically, and I'm really enjoying the degree of connection we have after a relationship that's way longer than anything I'd experienced before we got together, and I'm looking forward to finding out what a multi-decade relationship feels like.
We had hoped to do something really exciting for our first! ever! anniversary! but when it came to it, we're both just over-stretched and tired, so we opted for just a weekend in a little self-catering cottage (with, amazingly, its own semi-working water mill!) in the countryside not far from me. And we mostly spent the weekend staying in and cuddling and playing board games and watching a low-effort film. We managed a couple of meals out in indifferent pubs, and a half-hour stroll in what is a very pretty but not too touristy area. And we had a few relationship conversations of the kind that you often don't get time for in daily life. But basically we were just tired, and needed a weekend to recharge. It was extremely lovely to be able to do that together, I must say.
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