It happened again, I was working behind the bar and I heard a familiar voice, It was a man spitting vitriol about marriage: the words are sometimes different, but they always say the same thing.
Marriage is: awful, boring, a mistake, don’t do it. When people ask me how married life is they talk to me like it’s cancer, like they want to know if the Chemo is working and if it’s finally going to unburden me of my disease: monogamy. They’d rather it be a cancer though, because then they can’t catch it themselves. The obsession with this idea of monogamy as a place where fun goes to die has to end.
My marriage doesn’t suck. It’s hard sometimes. And I think people confuse hard with unworthy, broken, and boring. Work isn’t interchangeable with trash people; we don’t throw things away because they require some attention, a little elbow grease.
Work has gotten me everything I value: 40 weeks and 16 hours of labor gifted me my daughter, 4 years gave me my degree, and time logged gets me to the end of books, workouts, and gives me understanding. Ever had easy mac? It tastes like crap. Like you just microwaved chemicals and plastic. Spend 8 more minutes and boil some water. And then apply that idea to marriage.
Our culture is obsessed with effortless and easy, we are constantly trying to be unburdened of the work that life requires to make it fulfilling. Diet pills, fast food, Tinder, plastic surgery, Amazon Prime (ok, this was a good idea, but how spoiled are we… 5 day shipping and you’d think someone mentioned I should sell my kid, how dare they even suggest it).
We are also obsessed with escapism; and we are constantly hiding from how we feel, overriding what our brain is telling us. Adderall, coffee, Xanax, alcohol, and opiates make it easy. We don’t have time for being tired, sad, bored, in pain, or grief. We don’t want to work at anything or feel anything that we don’t want to. We need all of this extra time to… sit on the Internet.
You want a good marriage? Well you have to put in real time and you have to experience things that don’t feel great.
And I understand how that might not be a very attractive proposition, what with the ease of swiping right and all. Trust me, there are days when I want to swipe left on my husband so bad. Comparatively, sleeping with people is a lot less work than a relationship. I also understand that women share the blame, STOP SLEEPING WITH PEOPLE who show no interest in you and then continue to wonder why a relationship didn’t manifest itself into reality. Good grief.
I want you to know that when you compliment a woman on her looks you are telling her that you have put absolutely ZERO effort into understanding her. You are telling her you are lazy. You are telling her that you wanted to put in as little time as possible to yield a desired outcome. You are telling her that in less than a minute your eyes determined her worth. You are telling her the obvious. Of course she’s beautiful? Duh. You don’t think that every man who has encountered her has seen the same thing as you? People have eyes bro.
If you want to get somewhere with a woman, even if that’s just in bed, tell her something she doesn’t hear every day. Tell her she is smart, witty, and kind. And then tell her she is beautiful. Actually, stop telling her anything. Ask her some questions.
But back to marriage, because I assure you… it’s a good end goal.
So you thought this was gonna be easy? Hm. Ok, why exactly? Why would marriage be any different than life?
Have you ever lived with a roommate? Raise your hand if at some point you wanted them to die. Buried under an avalanche because they didn’t put their dishes away or they left their hair in the shower. Marriage is having a roommate and the lease says FOREVER. Which is both terrifying and awesome, because…
It’s an agreement: you say I’m going to deal with the shit life throws at me and I’m also going to take on the shit life throws at you. And then there will be shit that life throws at us together. I am going to cheer for you, when things aren’t going well for me, when I’m not as successful as I’d like to be. And sometimes I will keep this entire ship afloat while you flounder. I will cover you with a blanket, I will bring you something just out of your reach.
My marriage breathes life into me. And sometimes hatred.
I didn’t know someone chewing could elicit such a primitive “you must die now” response. I did not marry my best friend (I wrote about that here). We have very little in common, we would not have been matched by eharmony. In fact, whatever analytics those sites use to pair people would categorize us together as a firm “nope.” We’re still not sure how it happened.
So know that this advice isn’t coming from a girl who has an effortless marriage. While I’m happy if that is yours, it’s not mine and I firmly believe that they are created equal.
Sometimes I think, man it would be so easy if I was with someone who ate like I ate, thought like I thought, and loved like I love. I imagine my ego would explode, two people constantly agreeing with one another. No system of checks and balances. We disagree, and there’s growth in that. So before you shy away from someone because you seemingly have nothing in common, consider all the good that might come from those differences. All the thoughts you’ll be forced to think and things you’ll be made to consider. All the times you’ll be forced to humbly admit that you are wrong.
I’m sick of my accent pillows and I’ve had them for a month, you don’t think you’re gonna be annoyed by a human that you’re supposed to spend 50+ years with? That’s a guarantee. My husband would still be wearing cargo shorts if it were up to him. If I want to spend money on something I better have an excel document and ran analytics on our spending patterns to justify it. Vacation? 2 page essay, MLA format, with sources. But I’ve learned to love that. I dated a guy who used his school loans to buy Hurley hats, so… grass ain’t greener on the frivolous spending side.
Divorced? That is terrible or maybe fantastic depending on the situation, but let’s stop taking away another person’s role in our unhappiness and our own personal responsibility, and hand it over to an institution. You might be hurt and unhappy, but marriage is the scapegoat for your suffering; it housed your pain, it didn’t cause it. Your marriage might suck, your idea of it might be unappealing, but don’t put that shit on me. I don’t have time for that negativity, I’m too busy working on my less than easy relationship.
You did it at the wrong time? You want to travel? You want to have sex with other people? Those are all things you need to address personally, not pin on marriage. People don’t cease to be attractive once you’re married. Victoria’s Secret models aren’t outlawed. Looks might draw you to someone, but they’re never enough to make you stay. If you’re still concerned with the sprawling genital landscape of this world, then it’s likely you’ve never been deeply in love, you’re not ready to be, or you’re transitioning out of it. I don’t care if you want to hashtag wanderlust, go to Bonnaroo, and score some tail – but you don’t have to pit your lifestyle against marriage. They can coexist, without defamation of one another. Marriage is not an affront to your fun.
I am here to tell you that an agnostic can be married to a Christian, a vegetarian can dine for the rest of her life with a carnivore, and a moderate (leaning conservative) can endure a liberal feminist. The only essential component of a marriage is that it’s a wanted one. Everything else shakes out. Your spouse offers you the opportunity to be fully seen. Your fears, your pain, your triumph, your weakness, and your strength. They will love you in spite of it, and because of it. They will anchor you in acceptance, and they will urge you to change when acceptance just won’t do.
Good marriages don’t bury the bad, they bring it to light and chase it out.