Marriage (Another Tangent)


“Mental… what?”

“Mental gymnastics.”

“That’s been every post so far.  I want something a little different.”

“Mmm… monkeyshines.”

“I don’t even know what that’s supposed to mean.”

“Mmmm…. Modeling.  Making.  Maramaduke Isn’t Funny So Why Do Newspapers Still Run It?”

My husband was doing his best (???) to try to help me figure out something for my “M” entry yesterday, and — as you can perhaps tell from both this transcript and the lack of an entry for yesterday — was no doing a great job.  I’m not holding it against him, mind, since I’ve had, honestly, over a month to come up with something, so how could I expect him to stumble upon gold in ten minutes?  But then it occurred to me, I’ve been astonishingly on-topic this month, so I think I’ve earned the right to a slight tangent.

Let’s talk about my marriage.

I never thought I’d get married; similar to my line of thinking about kids, I really deeply resented the expectation of marriage (and still do, which people seem surprised by.  Did you know you can make a particular life choice for yourself and still resent the idea that it’s considered a de facto  obligation for other women?  You can!)  I never dreamed about a wedding, or really made any moves towards having a relationship until I was in my early mid-twenties, and even then, marriage was certainly not the end goal.

I met my husband online, on OKCupid; his was a profile I’d visited a few times and always considered messaging, but I was, and am, loathe to initiate any kind of social contact, so he wound up messaging me.  He was 21, four years younger than I was, didn’t drive (which was actually refreshing, because neither did I!  And I was often made to feel inadequate for that!), and lived walking distance from me — score, right?  We started hanging out in November of 2007, and officially started dating in May of 2008.  Our official anniversary, we decided, was May 15th – 5/15.  Because palindromes, right?

During this period of my life, I had several friends who were actively seeking out relationships with the intent to marry, and several of them wound up in pretty negative (as in, not outright abusive, but still unpleasant) relationships because a relationship (and ultimately marriage) was seen as an end goal, as something that was aspirational in itself.  I had some friends telling me how uncomfortable it made them that their partner did X, Y, and Z, and in the next breath talked to me about how they were looking forward to ring shopping.  I mean, what??

As I’ve said, even as a married person, I hate the idea of marriage as being aspirational without the context of a relationship.  I feel like a particular good, positive relationship should make you want to get married (or be committed, if you either can’t or don’t want to officially marry, for whatever reason); you shouldn’t settle for sub-par relationships simply because you’ve been conditioned to anticipate marriage as something you have to do.  For me, it wasn’t until my husband moved in with me — after both losing his job and contracting pertussis in fairly rapid succession — in the fall of 2009 that I started doing serious thinking about getting married, after I was confident that his presence in my life was an overall force for good.

He proposed in November of 2009, on our eighteen month anniversary, at the same restaurant where we had our first date.  With one of us unemployed and actively seeking work and one of us in academia, we knew we couldn’t afford an elaborate wedding — and frankly, there were so many more things we’d rather spend money on than a wedding — we challenged ourselves to pull it together and get things planned as cheaply and quickly as possible.  That wound up being July of 2010 (7/17 — palindromes, man), at the common house at his parent’s housing community.  A friend officiated, music was a curated iPod playlist, food was potluck, my sister (a baker) did the cake, I did my own makeup, decor, and centerpieces, and a friend (a professional photographer) took pictures.

Nearly nine years later, in spite of occasional squabbles and some disparity between household priorities (he is a lot less stressed out by clutter/mess than I am), I continue to feel like my husband is a net good in my life.  He’s practical, good at managing a lot of the household tasks that push my anxiety over the edge, and supportive of my creative efforts, however little interest he has in the actual medium (as in, he really doesn’t care about art, but he’ll surprise me by bringing home armfuls of canvases and paints out of the blue), and he was the first person in my life to verbally acknowledge that I had Something Going On, and wasn’t, in fact, just crappy at being a human being.

And given that I can’t seem to fully catch up with these challenges — still a day behind! — he might have to be the one giving me a topic for tomorrow, too.  Sigh.

Author: Jessica Cross

Writer, maker, geek, feminist, mom. Not necessarily in that order.

One thought on “Marriage (Another Tangent)”

  1. That husband of yours sounds like a ‘keeper’ – and at my age of 72 – I have seen enough of male humans to know a ‘keeper.’ I have been married for 50 years this June – it hasn’t all been roses for sure. But the commitment to the wellbeing of another individual still remains for us. Who knows what emotions are needed to keep a marriage in place – but romance is not even close to the top 5!


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