There are many things to know about marriage.
Everyone talks about it, but not everyone talks about all of it. To me, the most disturbing thing about marriage is perhaps how it’s so vastly different than anything it’s purported to be.
Marriage is not unconditional love.
There is hate. Resentment. There is bitterness, isolation, betrayal and pain. I don’t feel love for my husband 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Nor does he. Marriage is not a straight line of love, more like a curved, wayward snake.
Marriage has inertia.
There are times when we cannot access our love. Sometimes, it’s marriage — not love — that keeps us married. This thing manifest in shared cutlery and mattresses, Thanksgiving rituals and holiday cards — this thing sometimes keeps us together.
Marriage is neither an agent nor a perfection.
It doesn’t fill your cracks and makes you complete. Marriage is not what you’re missing in life. It’s not the fulfillment of your true self. Marriage doesn’t do anything; it — perhaps — allows you to do things.
Marriage is not enough.
Marriage is not a signal of success or achievement to the world. I’ve done this, I’m married, stop worrying, stop doubting. Perhaps for a while, but not forever. The what’s next questions persist. And nothing — not even marriage — is immune from that restlessness.
Marriage can be a bad thing.
Marriage endures beyond lies, beyond broken trust, broken dreams — if you want it to, it can. Marriages — good marriages, ones that work — must exist in dark spaces too, not just the light.
Marriage has no baseline.
With a few exceptions, there is no standard of what is good, normal, acceptable, and what is not. No one can tell you what to do with it, about it, it is entirely your responsibility to manage your marriage. There is no right answer. No right word. Don’t seek one.
Marriage is bigger than you.
Bigger than both of you. If my previous words sound like marriage is this mythical thing that cuddles in bed with you and your spouse and at times steals sheets — that’s because it is. Well, it’s not mythical, but it’s there, amorphous. It’s the third thing, between you, in your relationship.
Marriage is a responsibility, a commitment, a power, a profound intimacy. Ensuring we are seen, witnessed and bound to another during our short time here before we expire. More than any other social institution we have as humans. (Paying taxes notwithstanding).
I know that much about marriage. I look forward to finding out more.
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