Saturday, November 9, 2013

Thoughts on "Marriage Isn't for You"

I interrupt the normal broadcast of food and projects for some actual thoughts from my head. I know that doesn't happen often around here, so forgive me and please don't take me too seriously.

If you are active on Facebook, you've probably read Seth Adam Smith's post "Marriage Isn't for You". Once you come to the realization that he is talking about marriage in a good light (this should happen relatively quickly) you find an article about a man realizing that he was being selfish in his marriage and declaring that marriage is about your partner, not yourself. It's fairly sweet and I congratulate him on becoming less selfish. However, I have all kinds of issues with this article and the fact that it has gone viral over the internet like it is telling some sort of highly classified secret of matrimony. It is not. It is not ground breaking. If you thought marriage was just for you and this article was some sort of awakening, marriage probably quite literally is NOT for you. Not yet anyway.

I have been married to Brendon for two and a half years, so I am by absolutely no means an expert on the subject. We are very young and are still, in my mind, in the "newlywed" years. And they're wonderful, may they last forever. However, Brendon and I have been together for almost eight years. We are, like the Smiths, "high school sweethearts" (did you just cringe? because I did). And thus through these eight years, we have gone through some crap together. Big things and scary things and lots of petty things. Lots of growing up. Luckily we got most of the petty nonsense out of the way before we got married. BUT we were wild and wily rebels that lived together for years before marriage so we had an opportunity more traditional couples did not. I'm assuming the Smiths are more traditional. So we cheated with a head start. We entered into marriage knowing an awful lot about each other and an awful lot about how to make us work.

And there's the difference for me, and it's really quite simple. It's about us. Marriage is not about one person, whether it be you or them. It is about two, it is about you both. I mean, clearly. Marriage binds two individuals together, publicly, legally, and spiritually. It's an agreement between two people. And goodness, to assume all marriages are the same would be such a silly thing. All marriages are not the same. And all marriages, I'm guessing, function incredibly differently. What works for one couple may not work for another. Pretty common sense stuff, everyone is different, yadda yadda. Oh and EVERYONE should be able to embark on this marriage adventure if they want to. Ahem.

But for Brendon and I, being married is about We and Us. It is for each other. It is compromise after compromise and giving and taking and loving and fighting but always agreeing to stick it out forever because it's worth it. It is knowing that you will do anything and everything for the other, but still being your own person. Brendon and I have our own individual lives that are wrapped together in a big ol' tangled mess that I never want to unravel. We put our big kid pants on and make it out there in the world on our own, but we've always got each others' back. And that makes that crazy world out there easier to navigate, knowing that we have each other. Having someone to bounce ideas off of, having someone to make those BIG decisions with, having someone to tell us it's okay when the poop hits the fan and it feels very not okay. We both have goals for ourselves and goals we want to meet together and they are ever evolving and changing because that's the adventure of life and it's never what you think it will be.

And let me stress this point, marriage is about both of us. Which means in some ways it is about me. I love Brendon with every fiber of my being, from my multiplying wiry grey hairs, to my chipped toenails, I love that man. And I would do anything for him. But I also love me. Our marriage is very much about me in a sense because that man makes me happier than anyone in the world. So I married him and I'm not letting him go. But because he makes me happy, I want to make him happy. Because why wouldn't I? I want him to feel the same way about me that I do about him, because that feeling is real nice. I want him to want me, I want him to always want me as his wife. And that means giving. And that means making it about him. It's a cycle, y'all. It's the damn circle of life marriage. My life does not completely revolve around him and his not around me. They're more in very similar orbits that are fixed together forever by gravity because we want them to be and we just happen to love to bump into each other. We're planets now clearly.

So yes yes yes, it's about both of you. Always and forever. And it is also to some extent about your family and your friends that you build into your life, because they make you who you are. If you have children, they become a part of the Us. We are childless so I can't speak a lot about marriage with offspring, but I don't think marriage is about one person, your child included. If we have a family I still want it to be about me, Brendon, and our child(ren), all together and as individual people, working and loving and living together. Marriage is about living! Oh goodness is marriage about living. If it is not about living, I can't imagine it would be much fun. And although marriage is not always fun, fun should be the end game.

As I hope you did with Smith's article, please take all this nonsense I just spewed into the internet with a grain of salt. My marriage is not perfect, and I don't think anyone's is. I am 25 and have only seen (hopefully) a quarter of my life and have only seen a couple years of marriage. I am not all knowing when it comes to marriage and I am sure as hell not wise. I just had to get real for a moment and deal with that article. Because this is what marriage is for me, right now. It's simply about the two of us. It might not be like this in ten or twenty years, but right now, this is it. And it's good.  Really good. So forget "Marriage Isn't for You", because it is. It's just not at all just about you, and if you think it is, you'll probably have a Seth Adam Smith moment, except your partner might not be so sweet.

And to wrap it up, I leave you with this article my friend shared, on Facebook of course, that is a great example of what marriage can be. Sorry if you cry.

(And that photo of our extra cute hands up there is by J. Noel Photography.)

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