I wish I knew the secret. Some make it; some don’t. Other than those people who get drunk in Vegas and marry in front of the Elvis impersonator, I don’t think anyone takes it lightly. If it fails, it’s gut wrenching. No one explains that to you when you’re standing at the altar.
The first time I got married was more than 23 years ago. We had a beautiful wedding but I don’t think either of us was prepared for the actual marriage part. Plus, we were both too young. Yet, the too young excuse is pretty lame. I know a number of people who married young and have made it work. So, maybe I just was more infatuated with the wedding and the pageantry. I did love him, still do. But, we weren’t married very long and I think it was my fault.
My husband and I have been married a long time. A lot of people thought it wouldn’t work between us. We’re just prickly enough and determined enough to prove them wrong. There must be some point of maturity (or stubbornness) that happened. Even when I’m tempted, I refuse to throw in the towel. Our favorite joke is, “We’ve been married 15 years – two of the best years of my life!”
Every marriage has its share of secrets. Whenever I get really envious of someone else’s relationship, I remind myself of that.
It takes two people to make a marriage and in general, it takes two to screw it up. Didn’t we learn this in physics? Every action has a reaction. Sometimes you can change your entire world by how you choose to react.
I have a very different outlook on the concept of marriage than I did in my mid twenties when I wed. Back then, I bought into the idea that you could stay truly committed to one person for the rest of your adult life. I was brought up that way. I watched my parents do it and so I thought I could, too. Today in my forties, I just don’t know.
When you’re young, you don’t know the questions to ask a potential spouse. What are your money and spending habits? Do you believe in fidelity? What is your parents’ marriage like? Did your father ever have extra-marital affairs? Did he ever hit your mother? What are your goals for the future? Do you want to have kids? If so, how many? If we “can’t” have kids, is that ok? What are your feelings about a pre-nuptial agreement? Did you grow up in an abusive household? How do you feel about sharing a bank account or “sharing” in general?
These are just some of the questions that we learn in hindsight to ask as we get older and smarter. If I’d had the brain and experience of a 45-year-old when I married in my mid-twenties, I would have made different decisions. I would have treated marriage more like a “business decision” than an emotional one – which is exactly how I would treat it today.
In all honesty, I am not sure I want to be with just one other person from now until eternity. I am not sure I can make that commitment. After being single for so long that’s a lot to ask. I am not envious of anyone’s marriage – not even close. I would live with someone, but then again, there’s an out with that if it’s necessary. I am not a commitment phobe. I was in my marriage for the long haul – he was not. I guess now, I’m just more of a realist.
If there are children in the picture, that’s a whole other story for another blog posting. With kids, I believe and understand in making that commitment work – even in the worst possible circumstances.
Kids do take the commitment to a new (and possibly deeper) level. But, in the worst possible circumstances, i.e. abuse, serial adultery, etc., I believe you should grab the kids and get the hell out of Dodge.