Marriage is hard. I could never deny this fact. There have been too many tears and silent car rides and earnest prayers to do so.
But that’s not the end of the story. And in talking to a dear unmarried friend today, who is looking ahead at the next year and the possibility of it including marriage, it came up that this is the central message given to those who are not married. The reference point of the conversation was, of course, a super spiritual discussion on a point in Mindy Kaling’s book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?
“I don’t want to hear about the endless struggles to keep sex exciting, or the work it takes to plan a date night. I want to hear that you guys watch every episode of The Bachelorette together in secret shame, or that one got the other hooked on Breaking Bad and if either watches it without the other, they’re dead meat. I want to see you guys high-five each other like teammates on a recreational softball team you both do for fun.”
I’m never going to stop telling people that marriage is hard. It’s definitely one of the hardest things I have ever done. There are days that the unexplained tension won’t leave and seasons when sex is hard and times when prayer is the only thing left to cling to. Life doesn’t stop being hard when you get married. You not only experience your own storms but also someone else’s.
But at the same time, and to an even greater extent, marriage is the best. In fact, it is so good, that it makes all of the hard things so worth it. I would walk on hot coals to be with this man, and we are best friends. You have to be to get through – and laugh about – gray Februarys and janky SUVs (he just wants to drive it over a cliff most days) and overdrafted checking accounts and moldy cheese in the fridge because someone didn’t close the ziploc all the way.
It’s the daily things that keep that our friendship alive. This might all seem sappy, and it is not intended as bragging, but hopefully as an encouragement to single friends that marriage is fun, even with the frantic, and I would love to see my married friends ponder similar lists to appreciate this aspect of their own relationship with their spouses. Find the glue that holds you together when external things come crashing down.
Eric and I ride our road bikes through back country roads to chase the setting sun, and he is so good to encourage me to keep pedaling the whole way home.
We play Uno after dinner because he had some sort of deprived childhood where he never learned to play it, and I introduced him to it a couple of months ago. Last weekend, we played it with some friends, and he couldn’t believe the difference between a two-player game and a four-player game.
We don’t have cable, or any TV channels for that matter, so we watched through all of How I Met Your Mother on Netflix to catch up with the current season, and now we anticipate Tuesday nights, so that we can eat dinner on the couch and watch the most recent episode online.
We take long drives when we are bored on a Saturday afternoon or evening – or when one of us is upset and can’t figure out why. Some of our most important processing and decision-making has come through drives where the only option is to talk things out. And we bring the dog a lot of times, just to get him out of the house in case he is bored, too.
We find any and every excuse to drive through Shipley’s for donuts on a weekend morning. Woke up 10 minutes later than planned on a Sunday? Or out of cereal on a Saturday morning and too lazy to make eggs or oatmeal? Donuts are obviously the only option. Plus Shipley’s is like 0.2 miles from our house.
He laughs at the drawling way I pronounce oil and tomato and cities ending in -ville (“ohll” and “tomatah” and “-vuhl”), and I make fun of the way he says Colorado (“ra” as in “radish” instead of “ra” as in “rock”).
We play Wikipedia games, making the other person start on one topic and find a way to click through to another topic (i.e. start on Bill Clinton and find your way to fluorescent lamp).
He randomly pins pictures on my Pinterest boards of ideas for our bedroom or our front door color. We daydream a lot about house projects and “one day” ideas.
When I drank coffee one evening a couple of weeks ago and was too wired to go to bed, we built a pallet on the floor in the living room and I watched episodes of Gilmore Girls for three hours while he slept on my shoulder.
Any farts that may or may not be sourced by one of us are blamed on the dog.
We sing Taylor Swift while cleaning up after dinner, and he wears my floral apron to wash dishes.
We dream of new ways to destroy that janky 4Runner – his favorite and most-often suggested is to toss a grenade inside and run for the hills.
He gets frustrated at how often I am able to guess the surprise he has planned, and I tell him it’s just because I know him so well. He is my best friend, after all.
What are the daily glues that hold your relationships together, whether it is a spouse or a roommate or a sibling?