Friday, January 27, 2012

Reflections on marriage: guest post reshared.

Photos by Adam Pap.
Fridays with Bri is postponed this week, as Brian is otherwise occupied with a truck full of sleazy body pillows. That sounds worse than it is; he’s helping out our friend with a convention, and…well, I wasn’t lying about what was in the truck. Anyway, it worked out quite well, as there was a post I wanted to share and this turns out to be a great day for it.

I wrote a guest post for Wedding Republic’s blog this month, and it was up in two parts, for those who follow our tweets and got to see it. But I know that many of you didn’t, or might have only caught one half of it—which makes my inner author cry out in pain. I wrote this post far more candidly than I usually feel free to do, and I think the end result is pretty phenomenal. When I read it to Brian to proofread, we both got teary-eyed and started cuddling in Starbucks like a pair of teenagers. In any case, here is the post, whole and unabridged.

So…we’re married. We had a ten month engagement; we planned a fantastical free wedding (see our first blog) in that time, then had the party, and after a week of hanging around town on vacation, we began our new life as a married couple. After the new pots were put away, the dress was stowed, and the decorations donated to the next frugal bride, we were left with what we started with: each other. And more blogging, of course. 


Does your relationship change after the big day? I think it does, though I’d argue that it changes slowly over the course of your engagement. Maybe the change is more apparent when one has a shorter engagement, like Brian and I did—I imagine the experience is different for some of you out there who are planning weddings 2-3 years into the future. But I could feel the change not too long after Brian popped the question…it was a subtle shift from being two entities, tied together by time spent in mutual activity, to becoming two entities, tied together by…well, everything.

We had a health scare last March, and Brian ended up in the hospital. That was probably the first time I realized that, as our engagement moved along, we were becoming two halves of one whole. Holding my sweetie’s hand as the doctors drugged him into oblivion, I found myself picturing the horror of going home to our apartment, alone, to a place that was supposed to be ours. Thank the heavens, Brian got better, but a few days after this ordeal I called one of my best friends and blurted out that I was calling off the engagement. Patiently, she asked me why, and I said that this was too hard; I hadn’t expected to feel like my life would end if my partner’s did. I told her I wanted to call it off because I didn’t want to face the sorrow of ever losing him. My friend, a long-time married woman herself, laughed and pointed out that I would effectively then be losing him right now. I could see her logic, and reluctantly agreed to carry onward with the wedding, eventually laughing at my own panicked reaction. But it was a significant moment, realizing that going home without Brian would be like going home without half of my self.


That’s a pretty intense example of how marriage—and the journey of engagement—changes a relationship. There were more subtle moments, too, like the very last time we fought about leaving clothes around on the floor. I had been fighting with Brian about this for months, in particular because I was tired of discovering entire beaver dams of smelly socks tucked behind end tables and under the sofa. I found myself always saying that I couldn’t see how we could move forward with this marriage business if we couldn’t even get the sock squirrelling under control. Time and again, I heard myself threatening to break things off if these types of issues didn’t improve, because, “I wasn’t ready to stand before an officiant and swear to forever follow you around picking up your socks.” But that last time we argued about it, something shifted slightly and I had a new idea. I was on my handsfree mobile, driving home from work, as I chewed Brian out for the sock nest I had one again found behind the bathroom door in the morning, and I was about to warn him again about calling the whole wedding off…when I realized what I was going to say instead. “Brian, I’m not going to leave you if you leave your laundry around,” I said. “You’re not?” he asked, suspicious. “No,” I said. “I’m going to marry you like I said I would. And then I’m going to be with you forever. Forever, Brian. And you know what that means? It means that I will be there, every day of your life, nagging you to insanity about those socks. I will be there forever to drive you crazy. And I will never, ever leave.” There was dead silence from Brian, an eventual meek, “Okay,” and we haven’t had a sock nest since.

Now that we’ve been married for a few months, there are more subtle changes I’ve been able to observe. First off, arguments are entirely different. I find we’re both more passionate about them, because we’re establishing the interpersonal boundaries that will exist between us for a lifetime. When you’re dating someone and haven’t made that ultimate commitment yet, you may fight pretty hard, but some part of you knows you can walk out any time you want to…whereas once you’re married, the idea of divorce—with its expenses, legalities, stigmas, and alimony payments—means that you’re going to stick to your guns and demand that you get to keep (and display) your limited edition 300 Immortals mask, even if the resultant fight means you sleep on the couch for a week. (Note: it is Brian who owns a creepy mask collection, not me.)

That same fear of expenses, legalities, and stigmas will sometimes be the only thing that stops you from strangling your spouse and throwing the hideous masks out the window.


There’s a deeper intimacy that comes with marriage, too, though. I think we were married about a week before we started peeing while the other person brushed their teeth. This is something I swore I would never do, but Brian likes to groom in the mirror and my bladder likes to go precisely when it wants to. For the first month, I insisted he run the water while I go; I have since then stopped worrying about it. It’s funny this was a concern in the first place, as we have already both nursed each other through stomach flus that were ‘cathartic at both ends’, to put it lightly…but peeing in front of each other was on a different level. Shortly after I took the plunge, Brian decided he’d do it, too; he undid his fly, started his business, and had to shove me out of the room with his free hand because I began nervously giggling. I’m over it now, but I think he took my tittering a little personally, as he gives me the evil eye if I so much as smile when he lifts up the toilet seat.

Every day seems to bring new matrimonial adventures. Amalgamating our student loans onto one credit line nearly made me puke, because this was the first time I would ever have shared finances with another human being, let alone with a man can’t even remember to brush his teeth before bed. I’ve discovered some of his less cutesy habits, like his uncanny knack to produce toxic flatulence at the worse times…like when I’m trying to sniff a questionable sock, or just as my boss walks over. Some of the infatuation magic now gone, I also get to observe with more candour some of his behaviours; for instance, watching Bri struggle with sweaty nether regions makes me glad I don’t have the type he does, and also makes me wonder why we women mate with those who do have them. I’m certain that Brian has seen beyond the infatuation magic, as well, and has even recently mentioned that he thinks it’s pretty crazy when I brush my teeth in the shower.

There are other moments, too, that are definitively ‘married’. One I like is when Brian walks me down to the bathroom at night after we’ve watched a scary movie, and I know that for the rest of our lives, I will have someone to keep the zombies away. Or when he disappears to his computer for a while, and I find him surfing through the real estate sites looking for a house that matches my dream wishlist. When he knows just how to make the perfect cucumber sandwich, and when we can bemoan a bad batch of Kraft Dinner, but promise we’ll get it right the next time. The key part there: “the next time”. When you’ve made your vows, you can always say “next time”. We will talk it out better next time. We will compromise on that next time. We will go there next time. We will forget about it next time. Because that person is sticking around, so you can do it better/faster/smarter/right the next time. It’s one never-ending work in progress, this relationship.

And then there are the perfect, naturally perfect moments that are yours, together, forever. My favourite: nuzzling into the crook of Brian’s armpit at night, legs layered over each other’s like Jenga pieces, my hand on his chest, his breath on my head. Knowing that he will hold me like that, every night without fail…it fills me with a peace and gratitude I have never known before.

It definitely makes up for the socks. 

No comments:

Post a Comment