I have a friend who just got engaged. She was talking to me the other day about some of her fears that come with getting married. I tried to really reassure her that it isn't as scary as I thought it would be. I went through the same thing before I got married, even though I knew I wanted to marry A.P. I mean, it's frightening to commit yourself in such a big way, despite the fact that, in the end, you're still doing the same boring sh*t. It got me thinking, though, because regardless of the silliness and love, being married is different. And parts of it are hard. So here's my quick list of what is tough about being married. Feel free to add your own in the comments.
- Boy clean versus girl clean. The eternal cleaning fight, I think, often comes down to gender specific definitions of clean. Please note gentlemen that stacking things in one spot is NOT cleaning. That's called piling
- Giving up on some dreams. That same friend and I were talking about this, too. We were saying how when you decide to commit yourself to someone, especially in a marriage, you do it knowing you will have to give up on some dreams. I'll never move to Montreal and eat poutine all day and night. Not unless A.P. suddenly masters French and loses his job.
- Financial futures. 'nough said. Who the hell ever contemplated retirement funds so seriously before? If you did, you're a better man than me.
- Pregnant pauses. Remember when you prayed away all your babies? "God, I hope I'm not pregnant," or "Please, God, don't let me be pregnant." Now, you pray you are pregnant. Well, some of us, anyway. Not me. Not yet.
- Taxes. We put a huge dent in our joint savings because we got slammed by the man. I just asked A.P. what he thought was hardest about being married, and he rather quickly replied, "Tax penalties." Tru dat, A.P. TRU DAT.
- Fighting fair. It's so easy to make personal slams when you're in a relationship. When you're married, it gets scarier. "Will he hate me forever if I call him a dillweed to his face?" Good Lord, I hope not.
- Responsibility to another person. When you're single, it's easy to only think about yourself. And when you're in a relationship, it's still easy to brush off the other person because you're not bound to the person forever. When you're married, it's impossible to be selfish. Everything you do is connected somehow to another person. It's scary and wonderful, and yes, sometimes really annoying. It reminds me of that Louis C.K. joke where he talks about how when you're single, you think, "I can't leave her. That's terrible. I can't do that." And then when you're married, you think, "I could have left!" Louis C.K. is so wise, but I'm still grateful I didn't leave.
- Laying your cards out on the table. In a marriage, you have to be honest. About everything (well serious things, anyway). Anything else leads to nowhere good. For some people, that's the hardest thing. But hopefully, most of us are at a point where that fear of sharing subsides and you're left with a feeling that if you don't share, you'll explode. Sometimes, I over-share. Better to over-share, than under-share, in my humble opinion.
- Being there for the other person in ways you can't possibly imagine. I never pictured how I would deal with A.P.'s mother passing away. Or how he would deal with my deep depression after I lost my job last summer. Those are things you know will happen, but you don't factor into the big picture. They're also the things that change your relationship. One of my favorite quotes about marriage is actually from the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond. After Robert (Ray's brother) and Amy celebrate their 3 month wedding anniversary, they invite everyone over for dinner. They also start doling out marriage advice. A fight breaks out, and Marie (Ray's mother), in an effort to set all of them straight says this:
Marie: We’ve been married 46 hears. We’ve seen the lows and we’ve seen the highs.
Frank: What day was the high?
Marie: (to Amy and Robert) You two, you’re newlyweds. You’re in love. God bless you, you know nothing. (to Debra and Ray) And you two, you’re always fighting. And the reason you get so upset is because you think there’s something wrong with that. Look at us. This is experience. This is wisdom. You want some real marriage advice? I’m going to give you the secret. There’s going to be yelling. There’s going to be anger. Don’t fight it – accept it. You love him. You hate him. He disgusts you. Look how he eats (pointing to Frank). You keep your head down and you power through.
Amy: But, Marie, you said hate. How can hate have any room in a marriage?
Marie: You make room. There’s going to be hate. Hate is real. Marriage is real. We might fight, but…we’re okay with each other. And do you know why? We’ve endured. We have been through it all. And now…
Frank: We’re waiting for death.
Marie: Not that we’re in a rush.
Frank: Fair enough.
Marie: That’s a marriage.
There are so many more things that are tough about being married and I'm certain I've not covered more than half of them. But the key to getting through them all seems to be the Marie Barone method: power through and endure.