When I was twenty, I should have been concerned about several things. Studying, affording food, figuring out from who I could bum rides to Planned Parenthood to pick up my birth control pills. As focused as I was on all of those things, I was also planning my wedding. Before you get all judgmental about marrying young and but you call yourself a feminist, let me make something clear: we got engaged early, yes, but we planned on waiting until after graduation (two years down the road) before actually tying the knot. And then we realized how much better Matt’s health insurance was than mine. He also got a deal on credit hours (that applied to his spouse also) by working for the university we both attended. So, instead of two years later, we got married six months after our engagement. It just made financial sense.
I’m not going to go into one of my standard diatribes (much) about the importance of marriage equality. The above two fiscal reasons for our quick marriage are among countless (I guess not completely “countless”– there are over 1000) other legal rights denied same-sex couples because of an antiquated quasi-logic based in religious, unrelated doctrine, but I digress. You’ll hear plenty of that another day.
I’m sure that last paragraph led some readers to click that little red “x” on the top right corner; it’s there if you want to get out too. If I haven’t lost you, I would like to share some things I have learned about marriage now that I have been a willing participant in such a partnership for eight years. This is not an all-inclusive list, and it is not indicative of everyone’s relationship. I will also be making sweeping generalizations about men, women and children. Proceed accordingly.
- Men can’t find anything. Even if they’ve lived in a house for months. My husband will stand in the middle of the kitchen and yell across the house to me because he can’t find a spoon. It’s in one of three places: the spoon drawer, the dishwasher or the dog’s bed because our son smuggled peanut butter to Max again. Even if that last one is a little odd, it’s not too tough to put together when you’ve been a part of this household for years.
- Laughter is literally the best thing to do together. Picking out paint colors, falling into debt and having sex are fine ways to become closer as a couple. But the truly best way to build the camaraderie you need to sustain a marriage (much like soldiers at war) is to wholeheartedly embrace a mutual sense of humor. We laugh every day. Not all day. We regularly want to smother each other with a pillow covered in dog farts. But then we laugh.
- Make the bed every day. You could have spent the day changing shitty diapers or mopping up vomit. You could have passive aggressively fought with your coworkers about x, y or z.. You could have gotten a $2600 diagnosis about your shared car. There is something about a fresh bed at the end of all that that can provide calm and allow you to relax even for a few hours before you do it all again.
- Some people (and I’m not excluding myself here) will perform certain chores poorly in order to avoid having to do them in the future. Especially if your significant other is a perfectionist. For instance, there is a very particular way that I fold the towels. I don’t know why I care if the linen closet looks neat, but I do. And I don’t have a problem with this need of mine; I take care of it. My husband folds the towels “wrong” on purpose. Because I like it done a certain way, I just do it myself. He tries to get out of lots of things with this scheme. It’s not just him; I’m not innocent. I’m sure I could figure out how to put air in my tires or check the specs on the inline rotary girders, but I’m not gonna. I’m too busy folding towels.
- Love is what makes people beautiful. Admittedly, there are people who are empirically, physically gorgeous (cough, Chris Hemsworth). But as much as I might cringe when I look in the mirror or change clothes a half dozen times before going out on date night, my husband thinks I’m beautiful. We all have those moments when we are emotional or stressed or exhausted, and it shows. Worries and insecurities manifest, and that person who is there with something encouraging to say is my husband.
The point is, I got married before I could legally drink a beer. My husband is eleven years older than I am (when he graduated high school, I was starting the second grade– gotta love perspective). There are a million reasons why this shouldn’t be working, but it actually is working, and well. I’ve learned some stuff. Take from my experience what you will, and happy anniversary to us.