Friday, February 27, 2015

What I probably shouldn't admit to

I have a secret. I have considered coming clean and posting something about it on numerous occasions, but it's a very taboo subject. In fact, I'm likely to lose many readers (or I would if I had many readers) by admitting this, but I have decided I'm finally going to come clean.

Ok. Here goes. I have a happy marriage.

I'm guessing those of you reading this will fall into one of two camps: The You-Just-Wait Camp or the You-Lying-Liar Camp. Oh wait, there's probably the Honeymooners Camp and maybe, just maybe, there's The Believers Camp. The Believers Camp is shrouded in mystery, composed of those of you who know what I mean because you, too, find yourself mumbling guilt-ridden condolences when friends call bitching about their spouses or sobbing as they go through a divorce. Guilty because you just can't relate.*

*Note: I've had previous crappy relationships, so I can relate, except for the obvious and crucial part - I never married those guys.

Those of you in the Honeymooners Camp - Congrats! Enjoy! But you will be transitioning into another camp, as the Honeymooners Camp is, by definition, temporary. I hope your marriage continues to be fulfilling. I wish I could welcome you to my camp when and if you arrive, but as I implied, members' identities are kept secret for safety reasons.

You see, in our culture it is very much NOT okay to admit to having a happy marriage. But before I get into that, let me provide my marriage stats. I have been with my husband for 14 years (wow, that's crazy to see in writing!), living together for 13, married for nearly 12. We left the Honeymooners Camp long ago. So, those of you in the You-Just-Wait Camp, don't bother ordering me a t-shirt.

Now for the part that members of the You-Lying-Liar Camp are going to jump all over. We were married for 7ish years, maybe 8, before we ever had a fight. It involved one person raising their voice, exactly one cuss word (kind of irrelevant in our house, since we mentor sailors in this fine art), and an apology. I can count on one hand the number of times we have fought. It was almost always over something ridiculous. That first fight was about artichoke dip.

Not once have we waved the Your Family flag in each other's face...and man, one of us has an endless supply of fodder. Our fights have never included the throwing of objects.** There has never been any revenge taken, passive-aggressive or otherwise, after these fights. They all ended in sincere apologies, and that one time when I was pregnant, a lot of crying. And no, fighting is not the sole indicator of a happy marriage. Some people like fighting; R and I do not. We are much more likely to have a heart-to-heart conversation about how we feel. I know, it's so sappy.

**Full disclosure, I believe I once threw a sock on the floor in a very passionate display of exasperation.

I'm not trying to paint a dishonest picture of our relationship. We don't agree on everything, but disagreements are kept friendly. There are times of frustration - especially in heavy traffic in unfamiliar areas - where one of us believes the other is making a mistake. There are even times where we bring up a past failure or disagreement, but most of the time this is done jovially. We poke fun at one another a lot. But it is fun, not the caustic, bitter, teasing that so many people believe is universal in relationships.

I have never once questioned my choice to marry my husband. Not a single time. We are perfect together, though neither of us is perfect - especially me.

Here's my disclaimer: Our relationship does not diminish yours. Honestly, your relationship is unique and so is mine. There is just no way, it seems, of telling people that you are in a happy marriage without it sounding like bragging. There is no way to let people know that it is possible to be with someone in a monogamous, long-term commitment without seeming smug, as if you are looking down on the failed relationships of others. And that's not what I am doing nor why I'm bothering to write this.

I am writing this because my relationship is never represented in the public forum. Instead, there are pieces like this one. That piece is funny and, I am sure, on spot for many. But not me. Instead, it, and so many pieces like it, suggests that there is something wrong with me, or my relationship, or that we are Lying Liars. The truth is simpler than that: our marriage is easy.

OK, I realize I might have crossed a line by saying that, but it's true. Our marriage is easy. It requires some maintenance, sure, mostly since Mr. Man came along with all his needs. A child has created a lot more work, and at times that means that one of us feels like they are doing more than is fair. Yet overall, we remain companions, happy in one another's company. I will go so far as to make some of you roll your eyes by admitting that my husband and I are best friends. Each of us would rather spend time with the other than with anyone else. It's corny, I know, but so are we.

When I hear that all marriages are work, it simply doesn't resonate. And when I read blog posts that say things like "all spouses have, at times, secretly hated one another," I'm shocked. I actually asked R about this, after reading it. Was I missing something? After staring blank faced at me for a moment, he said, "Is that a joke? Why would I hate you?" "Exactly!" I shouted. Because seriously, I've never hated my husband. I've hated things he's done (Why on Earth would he dispose of a bag that was on the counter without first looking inside? Why?!). I've hated things he hasn't done (The toilets don't clean themselves, you know?!). But I've never hated him. We enjoy each other. Authentically and sincerely enjoy one another.

Is there a secret? Well, we are careful to keep our language non-accusational, for there is a big difference between "You never do X" and "Sometimes it feels like I'm the only one doing X." We try to take the other person's perspective. Mostly, I think we try not to take each other for granted. And we continue to have fun. Is that a secret? I don't think so. Certainly not a well guarded one.

I can guarantee that life will be hard sometimes. As spouses (or in any other committed relationship), there will be issues. Money will likely be tight at some point, one of you will do something stupid or expensive or both, the health of someone you love will fail, there will certainly be death. There will be uncertainty and stress in your life, this is 100% for sure. What isn't a guarantee is that the source of these problems will be your marriage.

Still this happy.

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