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19122023 - the fall of the wife trial

in the summer of 2023, i moved into a stranger’s apartment for 5 days and began the first edition of what would be known as a “wife trial”.

the wife trial involves spending every waking and nocturnal hour with a stranger and getting to know them deeper with the primary purpose of:

  1. ‘testing’ to see if they are someone you could spend the rest of your life building a future with via shared values/habits and
  2. similarly to how many animals adapt to attract mates by showing off their best features, the wife trial highlights things that i hold myself to a high standard and it is my attempt of showing what i’m capable of.

at the end of the week, he had cried in my arms, i deep-cleaned his whole kitchen, and we had an incomprehensible bond for two people who had never met nor shared any mutuals with. although our time was fun, we also quickly deduced that we could not see ourselves marrying each other. our underlying values (which were covered on nights 2 and 3) were not compatible. the most pressing issues in our lives differed vastly in scope and it was hard to find empathy for one another. our ultimate goals, familial, career, and personal growth had next to no overlap and it made itself known fast.

our days were full of doing the mundane; i made him drive me to walmart to buy hand soap because he had been using diluted dish soap and water in its absence. i taught him how to pick good cilantro. he drove me to the airport at 5am and he toured me around hidden parts of waterloo together. it was sweet, domesticated, and fleeting. there is no other way i would have liked it!

at its conclusion, it was a simple acknowledgement from both parties that this relationship would not progress any further, but we could easily remain friends with 100% confidence that this was all it could and would be. there is comfort to be found in the utmost sureness of pouring your soul to a stranger and having it be safe no matter what outcome followed suit.

the friends which i… ultimately did not stay with in waterloo, thought this was insane, but memo’d it as a mature way of not wasting time. i wrote it off as a one-time occurrence; a little silly anecdote from my summer days in the waterloo-kitchener corridor. then it happened again!

this time it was not a stranger. it was an acquaintance i had spoken to a handful in the past. it was slowly progressing past casual conversation with a few playful flirts, but nothing else indicated more than simple endearment. this was enough provocation for him to move in with me for 5 days.

we spent our days speedrunning falling in love. we shared and played our favourite games in each others arms, i cooked us every meal to which he blissfuly indulged in, we stayed up every night until sunrise laughing, crying, talking about moments that shaped us to become the people we are today. we painted a picture of what life could look like in 10, 20, 50 years and it felt so correct. by the 5th day we had agreed to become exclusive.

i saw my friends again in the weeks that followed and they were more impressed than aghast at me committing to someone this deeply so quickly. the consensus was how efficient the wife trial was in screening a monogamous, romantic partner. this was the antithesis to a world that can overwhelmingly feel more casual and indirect about feelings. the council thereby decided this was a wondrous feat! one for the books! and i nodded, “see you at my wedding!”

and life felt really wonderful, but i found myself with questions i have never asked myself before. “what is falling in love supposed to feel like?’ was the biggest enigma. i thought of my old loves but concluded they all felt so different to me, so perhaps this was just the new type of love i was unlocking!

this was the hardest cope. i was not falling in love and i could not bring myself to admit it. i knew what love was and what it could be. i read that falling in love is like riding a bike - you never really forget, and i have not forgotten nor do i ever think i could.

in the weeks that followed, my 50 year old self laid awake next to my husband as he succumbed to slumber and she attempted to reminsce our days of innocuous love and youth. of blinded trust, of the feeling that overtook every fibre of our beings to bring us to sleep so peacefully next to one another. i scanned my memory far and in-between every cranny to find none because these were supposed to be those days.

it seems that the wife trial was a perfect cheese trap for creating the ideal future but once it shut closed, the mouse quickly realizes it did not even touch upon any growth or tribulations along the way that would bring it there to begin with. doesn’t the cheese taste better when you work harder for it? two people can be very right for each other, want the same things, and can carve out a future together and it still won’t feel right without the proper nurture it takes to get to the pinnacle of what romantic love is.

the fatal flaw of the wife trial is that it negates romance. it scoffs at the audacity of seduction; as IF you need to be seduced in order to want someone! you already know what you both want so, here! have it! thereby destroying any ounce of heart fluttering from the gradual ascension into love and that inherently erases its final product of love itself.

i’m finding myself backtracking to fall in love properly. i love my boyfriend in a way i’ve never experienced love, where i’m certain i’m supposed to love him but i have forgotten how i have gotten here. i’m an amnesiac that was blinded by checklists and falsehoods of the comfort of a matured, later stage relationship. but how could i forget that the first few months of a relationship are supposed to be the most fun and exciting times? how could i have ever been so foolish to wish to fast forward to the safeness of having history together, when we have no history that has been made to begin with?

today marks the death of the wife trial. the irony is the wife trial is excellent when the husband in question is not a match. it ends something that could have taken an incredulous amount of time to realize would not work, ultimately leaving both parties in a better spot. however, when the wife trial is undertaken for a stellar partner, it sets the wrong cadence early and destroys the treasured, gradual ascension of falling in love. there is gold in taking your time to get to know someone and looking up into the sky to admire the clouds together. to look back down at the grass, not skipping over being romanced and singing “i won’t say i’m in love” from hercules in the shower. i find the beauty in staring out the window lying awake in bed, trying to convince myself to slow down because it feels too fast - when the reality is that it is the perfect time to fall in love.

so the husband writes to his local paper seeking someone who loves pina coladas and getting lost in the rain. he secretly knows his wife will respond and they escape once more.

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