My husband doesn’t believe in marriage. “You were the only person in the world who could have convinced me I wanted to get married!” he likes to declare. Which is sweet. He likes to do things his own way – and has built a pretty successful and happy life doing so.
Personally, I’m a fan of the concept of marriage, but doubtful of the existence of happy ones. I have no interest in the chauvinistic, mundane meldings of the religious people of my youth, or the strands of bitterness, selfishness and dishonesty I see so often amongst my married secular friends and acquaintances and in popular culture.
Since we are skeptics, we approached the institution gingerly, curiously. We spent most of our marriage long distance, only together on the weekends, which was an interesting mix of independence and co-living, that resulted in sweet reunions and much intensified fights (when the train is leaving out of state in 20 minutes, it gives a disagreement that much more urgency). When circumstances finally allowed us to move in together, we got a two bedroom place and kept separate beds. I didn’t want to melt into him, to lose myself. He liked the unconventionality of it. The experiment had mixed results. It was nice to have our own space, but that space also made things complicated some times, becoming an added factor in subtle negotiations of intimacy. When we moved, we got a 400sqf studio where we live (happier than ever) on a single bed.
But still, despite our deep love for each other and happiness with our relationship, the fear persists. Fear, for him, of complacency, normality. Fear, for me, of the pervasive resentment and disconnection I have always seen in the marriages around me.
We celebrate our third wedding anniversary next week, and we’re trying a new experiment in its honor: I’m going to spend a few days before the anniversary on my own, and we’re only going to communicate via email (well, besides for the 3 month pre-natal check up we’ve got on Monday. Squeeeeeeee!!!!!!). Perhaps the temporary uncoupling of our daily lives will give us some fresh perspective – new appreciation for the things we take for granted about each other, awareness of complacent habits we may have fallen into, focus on the blessing and joy of entering into another year of marriage with someone as curious and experimental as ourselves….
I’ll let you know how it goes!!
What do you think of marriage? Do you believe a happy marriage can exist? If yes, what are its ingredients?