She said, "I'm so happy! I can't believe you proposed last night!"
So, to answer your question, I realized it a few hours after I was already committed.
12. I'm not a romantic man. But what the hell, I'll share.
I started seeing my wife more or less on a lark. I was 24 at the time, had been in a 'serious' relationship not too long prior and didn't really want much of anything. Honestly I didn't even have that much of a crush on her -- she was fun and silly and cute, and she made me laugh. That was good enough for a date or two, maybe a few weeks of fun, and that was about as far as I was willing to commit to anything. She would've been the fourth in a string, and I was kind of digging that bachelor setup I had going. Tiny little pad, just me and the cat, quiet nights alone or out at the bar flirting with all the pretty ladies. You get the picture.
So I took her out on a date. I have to stress that I really wasn't that invested; there was no spark, no butterflies in the stomach. I was not, as one young lady memorably put it, twitterpated. I did my usual suave thing where I told her I'd call and tell her when to expect me to pick her up on Saturday. We went to see some godawful movie because I couldn't be bothered to put more effort into it.
In short I was, and am, an arsehole. Unbeknownst to me she had decided to make me her arsehole. I never stood a chance.
After the movie, I invited her back to my place. Pretty transparent, I know, but bold moves had been working for me and she agreed. Back we go and things are getting pretty hot and heavy. That's when she decides to stop me and drop the bombshell -- at 22 she was a virgin. Oh.
So no action that night. Decision time for Mr. Mars: do I go my merry way in search of lower hanging fruit, or do I stick with this one for the long hunt?
It turns out that not only am I an arsehole, but I'm also quite stubborn. Sticking it out was the order of the day.
I can recall the night of that first date, but much of the time in between seems rather hazy. We got comfortable with each other. She dug my sense of humour, and my cooking. We liked to watch old Charlie Chaplin films together -- a favourite to this day is The Kid. Eventually moving in together just kind of made sense. At no point during this entire process did I ever feel that spark. I was never infatuated, but things just kind of grew. Eventually we became inseparable best friends. We fight sometimes, like any couple does. But we're honest with each other, and we're committed to one another's goals.
Here's the thing, though. It took me a long time to realize I was actually in love with her, because there was never that infatuation. It wasn't a story book romance, it wasn't the prince and the princess living happily ever after. It sure as hell wasn't love at first sight. I always kind of had one foot in and one foot out, if you can dig that.
But time passes and you get comfortable. Life has it's own inertia, I've found, and sometimes it's easier to just keep going along with something than it is to try to change it. She was still digging my jokes, and my cooking. And it was awfully nice to have a warm body in bed at night. So we just kept rolling like that. Eventually I got a job opportunity. It required me to relocate and was a bit of a risk. I'd been offered a temporary contract with the potential of a permanent position when it ended. It was in my field, I was unemployed and it paid very well. There was no way I could not take this job. She followed me, of course.
We packed our things and moved from the small town to the big city. That was quite an adjustment, but we got by. She got herself a job, working evening shifts. One night, she was late getting home. Over an hour late, in fact, in a big, still slightly strange city, after midnight. I couldn't sit down for panic, and when she called me to tell me that her train had been delayed (Continued)