This is essentially a love letter, not just to my husband of nearly a year, but to the idea of marriage in its entirety. So, for those with weak constitutions or deep impatience for those who are happy, turn away and go look at photos of traffic jams or watch gifs of paint drying. The adults are talking now, hun.
First, a confession: for many years, I really had no desire for marriage. After a childhood living upon a surfeit of Disney movies, I made a few somewhat disastrous young-adult choices, where I thought marriage was the be-all and end-all to life. Those painful lessons taught me pretty quickly that the fairy-tale ending was a crock, and that my Prince was not going to come, someday or any day. Honestly, I considered marriage, other than the pretty wedding with the poufy dress, a wasteland of failed potential; that is, to do what I wanted, when I wanted, and with whom I wanted. A ring on my finger I equated with that proverbial millstone around my neck. If I wanted someone to tell me what to do all the live long day, I’d join a cult.
Granted, I was happy to live with a partner, which gave me the flexibility to get what I wanted out of the relationship, but didn’t leave me panting and desperate for the Exit sign from feeling trapped. Yep. I had issues.
My opinions started to change as I got older, as opinions (should) do. I started dating a great guy I’d met through a group of mutual friends, and as a couple we watched as our friends started coupling up themselves, getting married and having children together. Considering that our friends were pretty unusual and “out there” (Burners, every one), I guess I never expected something so proletarian as a marriage license to ever be something that many of them aspired to. But, here they were, getting all married and stuff, and lightning didn’t strike a single one of them. Sheer, utter craziness, I tell you!
I started looking at my hunny in a new way. Granted, it took years before I even admitted it to myself that maybe marriage was something that might benefit the both of us…but to cut a long story short, I eventually started the conversation, and eventually my hunny became my fiancé, and as of last year, my husband. We have now been married for (almost) one year, and together for ten.
Ultimately, I’ve learned the following lessons about marriage:
- You get out of it what you put into it. Marriage is not a cure-all for a broken relationship, just as having a child is no panacea for heartbreak or loneliness.
- Marriage is not for everyone. There are definitely friends and family whom I would say should not marry; maybe because they are not ready for the emotional heavy-lifting, or maybe because the partners they have historically chosen have been universally antithetical to their own happiness. Maybe it’s simply a “not now, but later” thing, the way it was for me. I would have made a crappy wife in my twenties.
- Marriage is constant and continual WORK: After the wedding is not the time to sit back and say, “Well, that’s over; I can stop trying now!”. In fact, in marriage there is never a time when you can just sit back and rest on your laurels.
- Communication is one of the greatest keys to a satisfying marriage: The times when my hub and I have had our most difficult moments has been when communication has broken down for some reason. One partner assumes that A is going to happen, and B happens instead. Then feelings can be hurt, disappointment can raise its ugly head, and … well, you probably know the rest.
- Another excellent key to marriage? BE KIND TO ONE ANOTHER. Remember, there is a reason you married him/her; it’s still there, if you look for it hard enough. There are plenty of opportunities for harsh words, acerbic comments, and patronizing language. But, to paraphrase that excellent advice columnist, Dear Abby, who often wrote of the perils of engaging in gossip, her maxim applies here too: “Is it true? Is it harmless? Is it necessary?”. I would also add, “Is it kind?”. You promised to love one another until death do you part; don’t make your partner long for that death (either themselves or yours!) any sooner than its natural time.
Final words on the subject: I love my husband with all of my heart. He is my best friend, life coach, cheerleader, and drill sergeant as the occasion warrants. He may not be a soppy romantic who spouts poetry at me and wears his heart on his sleeve, but I know to my core that he loves me and would do anything for me had I only to ask. However, he is not “the other half of my heart”, as the saying goes; I was whole before I met him, and did not need his support to help me survive life, and the same can be said of him. My excellent friend said to me once long ago, when speaking of true love, “Two halves may make a whole, but two wholes make a pair.”
…though, when referring to The Hubster in conversation, I may still use the popular term, “my other half”…
…because calling him “my other whole” could be awkward…(*titter*)