Courtship and Engagement | Part 6 of 6

by Elouise

This post is about the greatest gift I received when I got married. Yes, we’re almost there!

With a few notable exceptions, Christmas 1964 was a repeat of Christmas 1963. D and I hadn’t seen each other for the last 12 months. This time, D chose to take the Greyhound bus all the way. No car. His luggage arrived with him, and I was better prepared for what got off the bus.

Looking back, my biggest regret is that we had precious little time together before our wedding. In addition, the time we did have didn’t look at all like ‘normal life.’ After Christmas 1964, we  didn’t see each other again for 8 months—two weeks before our September 1965 wedding.

Sadly, I have no stories about what didn’t happen before our marriage, including at least the following:

  • Heart-to-heart talks with my mother or anyone else about sex or marriage
  • Pre-marital counselling with a pastor or counsellor of any kind
  • Great adventures D and I went on together during our engagement
  • Daily challenges in everyday ‘real life,’ from which we learned more about each other than we wanted to know.
  • Books or conversations about marriage that helped me prepare for reality instead of the nonstop joy of being married
  • Girl talk with women friends who were near my age, already married

Instead, it was all Do It Yourself, most of the time By Yourself. When the time comes you’ll know what to do. This is one of the glorious mysteries of marriage. Indeed.

I do, however, have one remarkable memory.

Telling the Truth to D
It’s late August 1965. D arrives in Savannah two weeks before our wedding. We’re working on final tasks like getting our blood tests and official documents in order and making sure we’ve covered all the details for our double wedding.

Yes, Sister #2 and her beloved got married with us. Not my first choice or hers, but a compromise that saved everyone additional work, expense and hassle.

So here I am, checking off my lists. I’m aware that I’m troubled, and I know exactly what it’s about. But what to do about it? It won’t wait. The clock is ticking down!

I decide I need a heart-to-heart with D. Alone. Not surrounded by family members or friends helping with the wedding. We go outside into the back yard and sit on an old stone bench. Not totally private, but it will do.

I burst into tears and just start blurting it out: I love you. I want to marry you. And I’m scared! Not scared of you, but scared because of what seems to be happening to you. You just spent two years of your life getting a second BA degree. Now you’ve been accepted into a PhD program. I’m happy for you.

I love you, and I’m scared about us! I see you moving way out there ahead of me intellectually and academically! One reason I love you so much is that you respect me intellectually. We have great conversations about many things. But now I can already hear and feel that you’re moving out there ahead of me and I don’t want to be left behind.

Sobbing ensues. D listens intently. His response is totally unexpected. He asks whether I want to do graduate work. Yes, I do! He says he doesn’t see any reason I shouldn’t.

I’m thunderstruck. This is the last thing I expect to hear. I can’t imagine how this would happen. I just know that I can take D at his word. When the time came, we would both know. And we did.

This was the greatest gift D could have given me on the eve of our marriage. I thought marriage would be a dead-end to future possibilities like this. It wasn’t, though getting there turned out to have its own unexpected twists and turns.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 19 March 2015