Human Tales: Lucy’s Mysterious Commitment Concession

Photo by Michael Jasmund on Unsplash

Human Tales are about us; right here, right now. 

Lucy’s Mysterious Commitment Concession is a conversation between a young woman about to move in with her boyfriend and an older friend to whom she is revealing the news.

“We’ve decided to live together before we get married,” Lucy rubbed her eye before she finished her sentence.

“Oh really?” Samuel watched her rub her eye for too long. “Do you need to rinse your eye out?”

She put her hand down and forced her eyes open wide and blinked, “No, I’m okay now.”

Samuel half smiled, nodded, and picked up his briefcase off the desk. He followed Lucy down the hall, “So…Why?”

“Whatever was in my eye,” she waved her fingers near her face, “is gone now.”

“No, why are you living together instead of just getting married?”

The hallway opened to a wider corridor. A mom, with two small children, had to grab them and pull them back before they ran into Lucy.

“I’m sorry,” the mom said.

“It’s okay, Lucy stepped aside and waited for them to pass.

Samuel and Lucy entered the main corridor and joined the flow of traffic.

Lucy turned to Samuel with one eye clear and the other blood shot, “To make sure we’re compatible.”

“I’m not trying to tell you what to do, but have you established parameters to know if you’re compatible, or not?”

“Parameters?” Lucy shifted her purse to a more comfortable position.

“Sure, every test for compatibility needs parameters. What’s the cut off point? How long will you live together before you know you’re compatible?”

Lucy shrugged and stammered, “We didn’t really set a time frame.”

Up ahead the corridor was choked off. Maintenance crews were replacing overhead lights, blocking most of the corridor.

Samuel pointed down a side corridor, “Let’s go this way. It’s quieter.”

He held the door for her and they entered the admin hallway. The noise of the crowds immediately gone.

“How about relational parameters?”

Lucy scoffed, “Relational parameters? Samuel, it’s not a test.”

“Life is a test, Lucy. Relationship can be energizing, or destructive. It’s good to know where the relationship is headed.”

“Sure,” she shrugged.

“What could he do that would make you believe you’re not compatible? I’m assuming if he cheated on you, that’s a deal breaker.”

“Of course.”

Samuel nodded, “But you would know that without living with him, so is there something else? How is he with his finances?”

“He has a good job, no credit card debt, and he’s saving for house.”

Samuel half smiled, “Impressive.  What about politics? Do you see eye to eye on the current state of the government?”

Lucy hesitated, “Well, there are some things we disagree about, but overall I’d say we back the same candidates and policies.”

“Good. Politics can cause a lot of arguments.  Kind of like religion.  Do you guys have the same faith?”

More hesitation, “He’s not sure what he believes and I…well, I spent a lot of time in church, but I’m not uptight about it.”

“Does that mean you know what you believe?”

She threw up her hands, “I’m working on it. What is your point?”

“You already know all this without living with him?”

“Right.  I said, we know each other pretty well.”

Samuel stopped at the end of the corridor and waivered between right and left.

Lucy turned right, “This way.”

Samuel caught up to her, “What about the less important stuff?  Eating habits, TV habits, personal hygiene?”

She chuckled, “He can’t cook. I’ll be doing the cooking and he’ll be making reservations.  I want to teach him how to cook, though.” She continued as if reading from a list, “We both stay up late watching TV, so we’ll need to work on that.  Hygiene?  We’re both germ-a-phobes, so that’s an issue.”

“And you figured all that out without living together”

“Right,” she mocked her own words, “We know each other really well.”

“Let me make sure I’ve got it so far. He’s faithful and good with his money.  You agree on what you know about politics and religion. No major hang ups with regard to cooking, cleaning, or grooming.  Good?”

“I’d say you’ve got it.”

Samuel stopped. Lucy stopped after a couple more steps.

“What?” Lucy shrugged.

“What could he do that would cause you to change your mind about all that?  Leave the cap off the toothpaste?”

Insulted. “How shallow do you think I am?”

Apologetic. “I’m just trying to understand what he, or you, could possibly do to make you think you’re not compatible?”

“I don’t know.  That’s why we need to live together.”

“How will you know when it happens?  You have no deadline and no parameters. You’ve got all these things in common. It sounds like you’ve worked through your differences without living together.”

“Exactly, we’re really good for each other.”

“Then why not just make the commitment? Get married and skip the living together?”

“You’re making this way too complicated.  It’s just the next stage of our relationship,” Lucy put her hand on the door handle.

“Wait, it would help me to know your view on marriage.”

Lucy pulled her hand back and stiffened, “Marriage is a life long commitment. Two become one, but you still have your own interests. You’re committed to each other for life to live, love and work things out when you disagree and raise kids, so they’ll build strong and loving families of their own.” She raised her eyebrows, “Good enough?”

Samuel sighed, “Even with all those areas covered you’re going to live together for,” he shrugged, “X amount of time to find out if there is anything that would hinder a life long commitment and if there is you still have time to back out of the relationship.  Is that about it?”

Relief. “Yes.  Now you understand.  What’s wrong with that?”

“Because what you’re saying is you love this person enough to make a life long commitment, but there is something out there, you don’t even know what it is, or when it could happen, but it’s not related to character, politics, religion, or even personal hygiene, and is so devastating you will walk away from the relationship forever. “

Lucy’s eyes turned down.

“That’s not a commitment, Lucy. It’s a threat.”

A week later Lucy invited Samuel to the wedding.

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