Monday, April 19, 2010

A Meditation on Marriage: Year One

The first thing I learned about marriage is that it's not at all the way anyone, especially married people, told me it would be.  It's been a year (see my earlier post (without reading it, the following might seem mushy), and now I wake up each morning and put on my wedding ring each day, without thinking, just the same way I brush my teeth and put on my shoes before leaving the house.  But other than this, what's really changed?

Chris and I had spent six years living together before taking what some people refer to as the plunge, and when we both woke up on the morning of our wedding day, we agreed that we would not change; we were happy, and we entered matrimony with cautious optimism.  When I say cautious, I might mean anxious, I'm not wholly sure, but there was an undercurrent of trepidation.  Let me be clear, I wasn't worried that I wasn't marrying the right man nor was I concerned that Chris wasn't in love with me.  What worried me were the numerous divorces I'd witnessed, including my own parents divorce, and the pathetic statistics attached to lasting marriages.  What was marriage doing to people?  The union itself seemed to have the power to consume the most passionate relationships I'd witnessed and I worried about it's destructive powers.  Moreover, neither of us felt compelled to marry for religious reasons.

Truthfully, we were doing it for practical reasons, to ensure we could take care of each other and commit to each other under the imposing umbrella of society.  We were partners, and willing to do whatever to prove this to the world, but marriage was mysterious and everyone's advice: contradictory, conciliatory; as their wisdom, warnings, etc... worried us both.

OK, OK, so what's changed?  What's changed is, I suspect, the same changes that would have occurred had we not married.  We have only become closer and more connected on an emotional level.  Sure, we have arguments, usually just because one or the other of us is in a bad mood; and there are certain days we're both in bad moods and these fights turn to uneasy silences.  But here's the thing, they never last.  Wether or not we find common ground on a matter, we always discuss it, and we discuss it soon after we argue, and as a result, the subject of the argument finds it's place on the totem pole, far below our commitment, married or no.

So, communication is good.  Practically, change has occurred in the form of combined debts, combined assets, combined paperwork, and this is messy.  But, perhaps given the fact that we both earned masters degrees under the Bush regime, we owe a lot of money, and therefore don't fight over money (a thing we don't yet have).

I have to say it, the mysterious nature of marriage isn't so mysterious anymore.  It's surprisingly comforting, and it's taught me to wear jewelry regularly, but other than that, I'm proud to say, the plunge was nothing to fear after all.  Sure, some would say, we're still newlyweds, but we're still taking risks together, for the good of each other, and I doubt we'll stop.

Over the weekend, for instance, we shared the cake we'd frozen (as was suggested to us by a friend) a year ago, and, equally worried that the icing wouldn't hold up as well as we had, we tapped bite-sized pieces of defrosted cake and took another plunge, hoping, wishing, cautiously optimistic that we wouldn't get food poisoning.  So far, so good.

Musical Chairs


  1. Happy Anniversary! This was a wonderful post. I hope one day soon every American couple has the ability to get married and "ensure they could take care of each other and commit to each other under the imposing umbrella of society". :)

  2. Congrats Jen-It's great that you are comfortable and happy!@

  3. Jen,

    Any meditation on the state of marriage puts me in mind of a line of dialogue from a character in a Lawrence Durrell novel: "Of course marriage is an impossible state with all its ups and downs, lapses, temptations, renewals. But the only thing the tattered old contract sets out is that you accord the primacy of your affections to someone, this side idolatry."

  4. Hi, Jen. You lived together for 6 years before you formalized it? I wasn't there, of course, but my guess is that you were effectively married (as it were) 7 years ago. I just went back and read your post about getting the marriage license, arguing about your driving, spontaneously shaking your foot together. The suspicious lady there probably realized you were acting like an old married couple already. :-)

    So congratulations on you one-year anniversary! (Or is that seven?)


    P.S. Seriously, though, I'm probably reading too much into your story, because two of my fictional characters (in the "Ashes of Courage" book) do something similar, just not 6 years worth. And by the time they get married officially, they're already living their life together, which is what marriage really is about.


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