So let’s start with our poll runner-up, marriage.
I always thought marriage wasn’t for me. Everybody always said – and if you start tracking it, you’ll see that people do it about twice a day – that passion only lasts for 3-6 months in a marriage, after which it becomes about… I don’t know what, I always stop listening after that part.
You can move countries or even continents but still people will keep drumming on this idea like a bunch of starving woodpeckers. And they also give the same numbers, three to six. After hearing everybody in sight proclaim this searing piece of wisdom in every language I knew, I believed it. And it freaked me out.
I like passion. I like being in love. I like butterflies. I love the feeling of getting a text message and thinking, “Is it from HIM?” I like having a HIM. I like talking until early hours because there’s so much to say. I like having to make an effort not to bore everybody by talking about THE GUY. I thought, well, maybe at 75 I won’t care anymore about any of this stuff and want a male roommate.
N and I got married because we had a complicated legal situation and didn’t want to be separated. We were both terrified. I thought marriage meant no butterflies, and N thought it meant we’d start trying to carve each other up with meat cleavers because that was his received message about marriage. We’ve all got our own burdens.
But hey, ten years in and butterflies are still very much here while meat cleavers never materialized. We joke about “hey, the passion is definitely going to die any day now. Or at least by our 50th anniversary.”
Which doesn’t mean it isn’t hard. A marriage is a lifelong exercise in patience, humility, tolerance, and growth. It’s very hard and some times are a lot harder than others. I love it, though, because it’s so interesting. Being able to know another human being on such a deep level and still realize that you are only maybe half an inch deep is a very intense experience.
The secret to making it work is to decide that this is it, this is the person you got, this isn’t Walmart, and you can’t return him (or her, obviously) and get a better version. (And before anybody chimes in with “But what if he turns out to be a bastard,” definitely get treatment for the crazy that attracts you to bastards. Do that before you get a goldfish into your life, let alone a human being.)
It shouldn’t be that hard. We all have a list of people that are in our lives for good. These are the people we won’t drop no matter what happens. And it’s an enormously liberating feeling to say, ok, that’s it, I’m done choosing.
It also really improves the quality of life. The thought of, “this person is with me for the rest of our lives. One of us will bury the other” is very conducive to a feeling of great inner peace. Yes, he did something excruciatingly obnoxious but against the background of a whole life together, who cares? The other side of accepting is being accepted. We, human beings, are all annoying as fuck and having somebody know every shade of how annoying we are and still loving us is big.
The title of the post is “how I changed.” Nothing can be further from my mind than to change anybody else’s. Everybody has their own journey, and it’s all good. Some are very happy married, while others are very happy single. Only miserable people need everybody around them to mimic their life path. I’m most certainly not one of such sad creatures.