We were all sold bullshit from day one. All the rom-com’s and Disney movies paint the picture of ease and “happily ever after” once you are married. Ha! Love and marriage is anything but. Everyone of us in that camp know it, as do all divorced individuals. Recent estimates show that 72% of you suckers out there have been, or are, married (down from 85% in 1960 who were married, divorced or widowed). I’m one of those, so we can commiserate.
Being married and raising a family is often more like a business arrangement than the wild heart-a-fluttering perfection on a sailboat sold in the Oppenheimer ads. I see friends’ marriages. Even with their best foot forward, you see the bruises on the surface. I see my brother’s and friend’s marriages end in infidelity. I see what the daily grind takes on my own marriage, and no doubt about it, some days are hard. You look at your partner with contempt for real or perceived indiscretions. They didn’t behave how you wanted them to in your mind or dreams. They don’t fit your ideal. Here’s a secret though: no one does. No one will ever fit that dream or ideal. Every one of us, and every one of our spouses, are flawed. Extremely. And two flawed people trying to build a life will always have struggles. It is a foregone conclusion, so don’t think for a second you are an original special snowflake in that regard.
X-ray vision into your neighbors house will prove my point. EVERY one of those married bastages (a Johnny Dangerously reference for the 1 person out there who has seen it) is fighting with their wife about something stupid. Because we’re all stupid. We’re weak. We are insecure. And that’s ok. It doesn’t mean our marriages are shams or not worth fighting for. Sometimes there are moments of brilliance in the rucksack slog through the swamp.
That perfect moment when you wake up a 20 seconds earlier than your wife and see her silhouette in the rising sunrise, and she wakes smiling at you. Those guttural and animalistic sounds of satisfaction when your spouse orgasms from something YOU did. Overhearing your kids belting out Frozen songs and play acting the entire movie. Those things, that oasis in the desert, can magically make all the sewer walking worth it. We get the life sucked out of us, then we get resuscitated at the most random of times with the most random of things. That’s marriage my friends. That’s the norm. That’s the electricity and excitement that is life.
My parents are celebrating their 40th anniversary this year. From the outside I have no idea how they made it work, but they did, do. My mom was ready to leave my dad and kill the marriage because he escaped in the bottle every day. But he got that under control. They shoved me and my brothers off to the world and as my brothers boomeranged back with issues in tow, I think they rallied around that. Fuck if I know how they did it, but they did. That’s where I want to be one day.
Who knows if we will. I think there’s a good chance we will. I adore my wife still, find her sexy as hell, but realize she and I are both flawed. That means we annoy the shit out of each other. A lot! But regardless of our inherent fallacies and cancers we bring to the table, we are still a team and still honestly, truly love each other. Maybe not always exactly when and how we need to be loved, but in our own way in our own time. That’s enough, unless someone decides it’s not. Unless the precipice that marriage is drawn upon, and rests upon, and is precariously balanced upon decides to shake the foundation for no good reason. Unless ego of something stupid gets in the way. Unless we pick at the carcass of something best left dead to just prove a point.
Marriage is truly a house of cards for all of us. It is hard. One wrong move and either party can make the whole house come down. Look at the waitress the wrong way and it’s the straw that broke the camels back. Finally feel unappreciated enough and you can split up a formerly happy family of five. We can only control what we can control. Be the best you can be today. Let the hurts and slings and arrows from yesterday, or yesterminute, slide off your back (I know – easier said than done). For God’s sake, apologize, even if it’s not necessarily your fault. Make amends and stick out that olive branch. Pride is nothing but poison (and one of the seven deadly sins).
Marriage is hard enough when things are going well. Don’t make it harder by throwing fuel on the fire. Look at that one you love, give them a wry smile and kiss them hard. You know why. Who knows if you’ll be among the 6% that get to celebrate your 50th anniversary, but if you’re smart and married right, you’ll still have had a good run.
This is what marriage is like. It’s hard, but beautiful. And worth it.