Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Marriage is NOT for sissies


I can clearly remember a conversation I had a couple years ago. A young(er than me) girl I was good friends with at the time -- gorgeous, bubbly and devastatingly naive -- had recently returned from her honeymoon. She and her husband were just a few weeks into their blissful union and at the time I was more than an entire year into my marriage (not to mention Adam and I had been living together (yes, in sin!) for a year before our wedding, which is kinda like being married), so I felt as if I were just bursting at the seams with marital wisdom. My ignorance is astounding sometimes. Almost like a superpower, really.

As she flipped through the photos of her wedding and honeymoon, all carefully placed in  a couple of crafty photo albums she'd made, she said to me with a smile, "I don't understand why people complain about being married. We're having so much fun and we never fight. Married life is like... so easy."

I'm sorry, did you say easy? EASY? Even then -- still a newlywed myself, really -- I knew that married life is NOT easy. Marriage is hard work! Very satisfying and incredibly rewarding work, yes, but WORK nonetheless. I would even go so far as to say that if your marriage doesn't require a lot of effort then YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG!

It's not as easy as 1) meet your soul mate 2) fall desperately in love and 3) live happily ever after, the end. I don't for one second believe that fairytale scenario and I think that if you do, you're either high or crazy (either way, there are some days I'd like some of what you've got because, let me tell ya, it'd be easier than dealing with reality). I was once told by a very wise man (a.k.a. my dad) that "soul mates" aren't real. What is real is the commitment two people make to work at a relationship and to see it through to the end. I like to think that's exactly what Adam and I have agreed to do: to make a real effort to work through our considerable differences, to be understanding, to make compromises and to constantly work at staying in love.

That's not to say that we always understand each other (we don't), that we can always reach a compromise without one of us being disappointed (we can't), or that we never disagree about things (we do). I absolutely hate it when people say that they NEVER argue with their spouse. That same wise man who told me about soul mates (or, rather, the lack thereof) also told me that simply because two people never argue, it does NOT mean they never have reason to argue. It's more likely that one of them has agreed to be a total doormat for the sake of keeping the peace. I don't want to be a doormat, and I certainly don't want my husband to feel that he has to be the doormat. Therefore, we argue sometimes. I'm not afraid or ashamed to admit it: I ARGUE WITH MY HUSBAND.

I'm not suggesting that you publicly air your dirty laundry or that you discuss with people the details of your most recent knock-down, drag-out fight. Far from it, actually. I feel that involving a third party in your marital crap can be a huge mistake. Chances are that the two of you will work it out in the bedroom and you'll forgive him, but your mom (or sister or girlfriend) won't. They'll remember the incident forever and in the back of their minds they'll always think your husband is kind of a jerk. Ladies, please don't make your husband a jerk unless he REALLY deserves it (ie: he cheated on you or he squeezed the toothpaste from the top AGAIN). You'll get over it, but your mom never will.

I don't claim to know it all, not by any means. I understand that I still have a lot to learn about marriage. I embrace the thought, actually. I hope that in thirty years I'm still learning about marriage and continuing to grow my relationship with my husband. But I have learned a few things about marriage in the past few years: it's okay to be less than perfect, it's okay to get frustrated with your spouse, it's okay to argue and it's okay to admit that it's really hard sometimes. Those things do not make you a bad person or mean that you don't love your spouse as much as you should. In fact, I think that acknowledging and being able to talk about those imperfections might actually mean you're more secure in the knowledge that you really do love each other and are capable of working through things together.

07/21/2007
The entire reason this post was conceived is that I spoke with my old friend yesterday, the one who told me how easy it was to be married. I asked her if she remembered that conversation (she does) and if she still felt the same way. She laughed at first, but then she really thought about it for a minute before she finally answered. "I thought marriage was supposed to be easy" she said, "and I thought that if I said it enough, it would just work out that way. But trying to be perfect and trying to make it easy was exhausting. Things have gotten a lot better since I stopped pretending his shit doesn't stink."

Couldn't have said it better myself.

4 comments:

  1. I LOVE that picture...sums it all up. Marriage is hard and takes a ton of work--but it is worth it and that's why you've got to work through all the hard junk. I'm glad your friend had a reality check...

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  2. I totally agree! I think far too many people have far too many dangerous ideas about what marriage is or is supposed to be. That said - I do think some marriages are easier than others. I would say marriage has been "easy" for Mahon and I. That isn't to say that we haven't had fights and hard moments, but on the whole - marriage is SO not the hardest thing I've ever dealt with! (We also had the engagement from you-know-where, during which time we worked out a lot of the kinks of our relationship and hammered out most of the "newlywed issues," which made a huge difference.) Overall, we do find it easy to be married to each other. But yes - it's definitely work. The most rewarding work in the world...

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  3. Cindy,
    "The most rewarding work in the world"... until you have kids, that is. ;)

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  4. I loved this blog! I'm over a year into my marriage as well and as far as marriages go, ours is "easy" and wonderful, but it's sure had its bumps! I think CF is a big stresser for our marriage. My husband gets so frustrated at this disease and it makes me mad that he's frustrated - ah the endless circle! :)

    Thank you for posting this! I got a lot out of it!

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