The married life

Marriage is hard.

I know, I know. Who needs to be told that hitching your life and lot to another person is mindblowingly hard. Just when you think you’ve hit smooth seas, a hurricane rolls in and you’re clutching your stomach and heaving its contents over the deck. Or maybe it’s just me.

I know people who profess to never having moments where they question their decision to mate for life. They act like anyone who would doubt their marriage for half a minute is obviously not as “in love” as those in “perfect” marriages.

I say those people are full of it, but then they point out how I refused to change my name and how I talk about my next husband. I don’t happen to believe that taking someone’s name is the nail on which a life-long contract hangs, but apparently my marriage was inherently flawed from the beginning. And I do refer to my next husband. He is deliciously agreeable and always puts the toilet seat down. However, I also talk about my next child — and there really won’t be another of those, so the logic is flawed.

Marriage is hard.

Not hard enough to make me want to throw my hands up and walk out. Not hard enough to make me hate being around him. Not hard enough to make me covet other women’s husbands. But hard in an incessant and uncompromising way that makes me squint down the road into the future and feel something akin to the moments right after you enter a battle zone and realize you’d better start fighting or prepare to get buried.

I think part of the problem for me (and for Billy) is that we have no role models for success. Growing up, every single one of my mother’s friends was divorced. In fact, we lived in subsidized housing where many of the women were actively in hiding from abusive ex-husbands. My father was a deadbeat who ruined not one, but two marriages. Billy’s mother moved from abusive husband to abusive husband.

Where Billy’s mother sought out providers and took whatever beatings came with the territory, my mother made the conscious decision to not re-enter a romantic relationship after a few bouts with heartbreak after my father went away. So not only was their no marriage, there was no romance. No intimacy. No insight to how the whole thing works.

And yet somehow Billy and I landed together in a little house in a little Southern town with our sweet little kids. We have the same struggles and successes as every other parenting couple. Everyone knows it’s hard and everyone has some back story for why they sometimes just need a break from the seeming insurmountableness of it all.

Somedays it's too much for me. I am a woman, not a "wife" and definitely not another adult's "mother." I want things to be balanced and equitable. I to get as much as I give. I want consideration and gratitude and respect and enthusiasm from the person I chose to cleave to. I want more of those things from him than I get from others.

Currently, if I want some combination of those wants (needs?), I must turn to a friend. Is that a married woman's lot in life? Is this an instance of it is what it is and I must learn to accept it? Or can I mold and polish this mountain man who's more worried about looking whipped than making his wife happy?

Knowing that you live a charmed life of a dedicated husband, happy and healthy children, and secure and lucrative employment is one thing, feeling that charm down in your core is quite another. For me, personally, sometimes the best way to exorcise the beast of a thing is to just give voice to it:

Marriage is hard.

And yet we will persevere. We must. There is no other option.


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