This was the moment he’d been waiting for, the ideal time to pop the question.
He hesitated. “Er . . . I want to ask you a question. . . . Would . . .”
“Yes, go on,” she encouraged.
“Well, Would you . . . marry me?” He hesitated, trying to gauge her response.
“Possibly.” Now she hesitated. “For how long?” Marriage licences were available for one, two or five years with renewable options; some even had no expiry date.
“I thought five years; give us time to make a real effort.” His reply showed he had given this some meaningful thought.
“Hmmm. I don’t think that’s going to work for me. At my age, I don’t have that many child-bearing years left. One year would suit me better. After all, I can’t have children if we are possibly planning our break-up as well.”
He hadn’t thought about children. He didn’t want to wait five years before having children either. On that point, one year seemed the best choice.
“OK,” he responded, “I agree on one year. So, that’s settled. I’ve already done some thinking. I will buy the house—it’s the most expensive item—and you can buy the car.” He was feeling magnanimous.
“Hold it, you’re going too fast. I still haven’t said yes. We need to think about the break-up arrangements. For instance, I’m not happy about you buying the house. That will appreciate, the car won’t. You get the best part of the deal.”
This proposal was proving more complicated than he had thought. Where had the simple: ‘will you marry me,’ and, ‘yes, yes, I will,’ gone to?
She continued. “I want half partnership in the house, and you buy the car. And when we move in we must label everything ‘his’ and ‘hers’ to avoid misunderstanding later.”
“You mean you want a pre-nup agreement?” He asked, becoming ruffled.
“Well, some have one even if they’re not breaking up,” she countered, “and we are planning to!”
“Look, I’m not planning to break up. I really do want to marry you for life. It’s just that if things don’t work out, a limited time licence avoids the hassle of a divorce.” It all seemed so logical to him.
She softened a little. “OK, on these conditions I’ll marry you, and we’ll see what a year will bring.” It appeared she really did love him.
“And will you stay married to me if things do work out?” He asked.
“That’s like asking a girl her age,” she replied. “Your not knowing will spice up our marriage. And you can keep that guessing game going in your head for a while longer: ‘will she or won’t she?’”
“That doesn’t appeal to me at all; I need more assurance than that.”
“All right.” She seemed tired of the game. After all, what girl doesn’t want security also? “Perhaps the best answer is just to live together—and let’s make it for life. If you’re worried about the hassle of divorce, why go through the hassle of marriage in the first place, temporary or not? And the door is still open if we don’t make it.”