Mr. Pants and I are talking about marriage. Just talking about it, mind you, so don’t rush off to buy a new hat quite yet. And there’s a lot to talk about. Neither one of us has been married before — in fact, we don’t even have much of a track record of living in sin with other folks. (I lived with a college/grad school boyfriend for two years, Mr. Pants had a girlfriend under his roof once for a few weeks. That’s it.)

So, as long-time solo acts, we’re very carefully working through our transformation into a duet. Being long-distance makes this even more complicated, since we can’t date in the commonly-defined sense of the word, and we can’t even steal a weekend here and there.  Instead, I went to Madrid for 10 weeks so that we could see how we do in a shared space, and I have to say that we’re both pleasantly surprised at how smoothly we worked things out. I’m in charge of the laundry and ironing (I like to iron while I’m watching my soap opera), and Mr. Pants does the bulk of the menu planning, marketing, and cooking. We share the washing up. I do most of the vacuuming, dusting, and bathroom fumigating, because I “see dirt” better than he does, but he’s expressed a willingness to learn. So that’s pretty much settled.

But, oh, what’s left on the list! Money’s going to be a biggie, since I’m fairly optimistic in general, which translates into a certain amount of fiscal exuberance. He’s more likely to see the glass half-empty, and sits on his money like a broody hen.

And, surprisingly, we’re also discussing where we’ll live. I had believed that it was going to be necessary for me to move back to Spain — you know, one enormous transition at a time — but Mr. P’s more inclined to come here, even though it means “closing down” his apartment in Madrid, and a lot of administrative hassles. So I’ve started to put together the paperwork needed to get him a K-1 (fiancé) visa. It feels so strange — and so final, somehow — to commit the particulars of our relationship to forms in which I must type or print neatly that I’ve got to do it very gingerly, one piece at a time. lest I be overwhelmed.

Last week I went to the library for Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Committed, as a way of having a little company in the whole thinking-about-marriage-and-getting-a-visa process. Though her particular visa-getting situation was much gnarlier than ours is likely to be (please G-d), the bigger questions that it brought up for her certainly did resonate. And she put into words — as if they were my own words — what it is about the relationship with Mr. Pants that makes it different from all of the romances I’ve had in my life:

There is hardly a more gracious gift that we can offer somebody than to accept them fully, to love them almost despite themselves. […] Maybe creating a big enough space within your consciousness to hold and accept someone’s contradictions — someone’s idiocies, even — is a kind of divine act.

Yup. Just that.

*”Married people need a home of their own”