When I told the members at the ladies-only gym where I sometimes work that I was engaged, their reactions went a bit like this:
"Oooh congratulations! You'll be leaving us then?"
And, even more bizarrely:
"How lovely, is he in the military?"
(Anybody who knows Sam can stop laughing at the last one now)
I knew that, when it came to marriage and tradition, there would be a generation gap. But this was more like a chasm. Some of them were a bit shocked when I told them that I'd already lived with my betrothed for 18 months prior to the proposal.
"Getting married doesn't really change anything for you then, does it?" one lady said, "So why are you doing it?"
All bluntness aside, it's a pretty good question.
Why go to all that trouble and expense to tie yourself to another human being? Does it really make anything any different?
I noticed in the pub last night when everyone was asking Sam if it felt different, he said it didn't. When we were talking about it later, he explained, in his usual 7-pints-down-the-line, endearingly coherent way:
"Well! Of course it feels different! But it doesn't. It doesn't feel different! But it does! You know!"
Which is, of course, exactly right.
Nothing changes on a day to day level (apart from Sam giggling and calling me "Mrs Smyth" every now and again, like he can't quite believe it). The washing up still gets left. We still forget to water the house plants. The cat still occasionally does a poo in the dining room (although apparently more often when we feed him Go-Cat biscuits).
But there is this unspoken knowledge now, that you and this other person are well and truly in it together. And that it's not just talk any more, it's cemented. In all probability you are going to be sitting with this other person in your dotage, and it's not just a pinkie promise. You're going to fall out, and horrible things will happen, but now you know you've made a commitment to sit down and get through it together. Any uncertainty is gone, and it's replaced by a sort of calm. Everything seems richer, clearer, more still. And this weird feeling permeates everything. I hadn't expected to feel like this -it's strange, but it's good.
Of course this could be the bliss of the first few weeks of marriage, or it could just be the relief of not having to plan a wedding anymore.
Seriously, this man, in the military?