Many people talk about what marriage is and isn’t. We see and hear about it from relationship gurus and television talk show hosts, to magazine advice columnists, parents, spiritual guides, and even self-proclaimed experts in the field.
Marriage is hard. Marriage is a piece of cake. Marriage has its ups and downs. It is bliss in a bottle. It’s all about communication, sacrifice, compromise. Two halves becoming one. In sickness and in health, for better or worse, till death do us part.
Forever and ever. Amen.
Weddings seem to have more or less defined the month of February this year, all around me at least. And, there was quite a bit of the above talk happening in and around these events. Of course, that may or may not have caused the huz to right up front threaten to gag me if I didn’t keep my mouth shut and not enter said conversations with guns blazing.
He’s so freaking mean! What-does-he-mean-it-will-ruin-their-fun? What about my fun?
I have to admit that I did (eventually) kind of sit back and observe most of the in-depth analysis and advice with some fascination (and pepperings of cynicism, because, well I can never just not). But, all of it got me thinking that there is a lot of crazy stuff being said to newlyweds (as always) and also to those “of marriageable age” (naturally) by a lot of people (some married, and even not.)
This weekend my husband and I are about to complete ten years in this institution called marriage. Not really a big deal to the ones past the fifteen and twenty year marks, but it’s not a small number to have achieved either. A decade, people! That’s something. So, I feel it’s time I chimed in on the “is and is nots” of the whole marriage thing. (I’ll bet you’re wishing he hadn’t threatened the gagging, am I right? Well, too bad. He did, and here I am. With my guns.)
So, if all the old dinos here could now please take their seniority, superiority, and amused snorting to the back row please, I’ll have the soapbox. – Thank you.
On our first wedding anniversary I remember saying to the huz that we’d both be lucky if we ever made it to our fourth (together). His only response was a shit-eating grin, and telling me I was too optimistic, because he was giving us two years, tops.
So, when (and with all that immeasurable amount of confidence in our relationship) we hit five years of marital bliss, we almost fainted.
Note: If you don’t hear from me after Friday, you’ll know a decade worth of rising shock finally got the better of me and took my life.
In the last ten years the two of us have learned a lot about what marriage is, and what it isn’t. We’ve learned it the easy way, and at times so hard it’s almost broken us. But, one thing is for certain, it isn’t what many say it is, and it definitely isn’t what plenty say it is not.
Marriage is Hard
Not so. It’s a process. The hard part comes in when two people don’t fit together in the first place but jump into marriage anyway. If your relationship pre-marriage is not smooth, if two individuals are not compatible, don’t know squat about the other, don’t share the same goals, aren’t on the same page as far as the fundamentals go, chances are your marriage will fail or be very hard to handle. Which brings me to…
Marriage is a Solution
Crap! Marriage is not going to fix you up any more than a bandaid will fix a second-degree burn. Marriage will not heal damaged individuals, or rocky relationships. If you or your partner have excess emotional baggage, a ring on your finger won’t miraculously cure you of your problems. If your mother-in-law/sister-in-law is a bitch before you marry your mate, they won’t turn over new leaves because you exchanged some vows with the son of their home. If your sex life was lacking before and you didn’t enjoy it, I’m sorry but a walk down the aisle will not refresh and revive it. Marriage is two people wanting to be together, and that is the extent of it. Nothing more.
Marriage is Security/A Guarantee
Here’s a newsflash. When you marry someone there is no warranty which comes with them, and definitely no guarantees that your castle in the air will stay afloat. Once the confetti and rice have been swept away, the after wedding dinners all attended and done with, there is no guarantee your partner will not turn into someone who could very well screw up your life. There is no guarantee he/she will be a constant source of support, will fill that void you always dreamed someone would, love you unconditionally, respect you as an individual, stop being a daddy’s girl/mamma’s boy, or be an amazing parent.
For Better or for Worse
Does not mean a blind acceptance of your partner’s “worst” because you made the vow, or were told it’s your duty to accept them flaws and all. It’s about both striving to be better. It’s about having the courage to stand your ground, look them in the eye and tell them their worst is causing hurt, bitterness and resentment and that’s not going to cut it. That they can be better, and need to be better so you both can carry on. It is honest acceptance of your worst if they tell you it’s not good enough for them. It is about trying harder, moving forward, not being a doormat and not treating them like one either.
Marriage Fills a Void
If you’re a half as an adult, you’re incomplete. And, no individual is ever going to “complete you.” That, my friends is a myth concocted by script writers and directors who knew a marketable line when they saw one. If you have to depend on another person to complete you, then you have issues. If they’re in it for the same reason, recommend a good therapist and turn down the damn proposal. An excess of emotional dependency can kill the best of relationships, and marriage is one of them.
Their Needs Come First
No. Hell no.
I am not advocating being self-absorbed and selfish, but every individual’s needs matter. Equally. This is not about setting aside your needs and playing nursemaid to another’s to the exclusion of all else, it is not about suffering in silence because you’re afraid to rock the boat, it is not about losing yourself so your partner can gain, or the other way around. It is not about waiting your turn, or forcing them to wait for theirs, it’s not about lying flat on your back with them on top all of the time because hey, it’s the only way your partner prefers it.
That’s not what marriage is about. It’s a lot of give and equal taking, or it isn’t a marriage.
Marriage is a Gamble
Truth. It’s a risk two people take together, with nothing but dedication and trust to help them along. It’s team effort. Every.single.day.
Happily Ever After
Shoot me now!
People makes mistakes and marriage can be one of them. It doesn’t lessen one’s worth. What actually lessens it is staying within the confines of a failed marriage, or with someone who you just cannot be with. It is fine to leave, to walk out, even run without looking back. It is not about sitting and waiting for the sequence to play out like it did on a favourite TV show, or like that beautiful Romance novel you just read. When it’s over, it’s over. But, if it’s not so bad and you stay, then clear the air and move forward. Don’t take the bullshit into the future, and don’t sweep it under the rug. It’s not worth it.
Ten years can teach two people alot, and it certainly did that with my husband and myself. Much more than we ever thought it could.
It taught us the importance of individual responsibility in a relationship, and how not to pass the buck. Early on it taught us the folly in believing that marriage is just a matter of dream + plans = success. It showed us that fun moments pop up in monotony, arguments can end in rolling on the floor laughter, dirty socks never go away, and that there is no reason to deny your partner respect even in a raging fight.
It taught us (and not a little brutally) how some bonds can and do break, but stronger ones can be formed, how children turn your world upside down and there is no going back after that, how weathering storms is par for the course, and then fixing your damaged boat should be done with the good, solid stuff and not quick fix cliches.
It also taught us that there’s plenty more for us to learn in the years ahead, lots more room for growth and change within ourselves as individuals, and together as a couple.
Most of all it has taught us that happiness doesn’t fall out of the sky, or stay constant just because there is love. It is a choice you have to make together and stay committed to seeing through. And, when you do, it can only be achieved through perseverance.
Only then, is the love you share absolute. Otherwise, it’s all just fantasy.
Thank you for stopping by today, and I hope you all are having a great week.
My husband has always had a song which he says reminds him of me, and because we’re always so “equal” about things, I have also had one for a long time which reminds me of him. So, if you like, you can listen to them both and try not to gag when you do, because sometimes we’re ridiculously mushy people.