WHAT THE HELL MARRIED LIFE IS REALLY ABOUT
I’ve never been married, but I have thought about marriage a lot. None of my friends are married, but they are all engaged and planning weddings. My parents divorced when I was three and I have been afraid of getting divorced since before I can remember. It’s all scary, until it’s not. My boyfriend got married when he was nineteen to a girl that he asked out on a date because another girl had rejected him. They both wanted to have sex, they were super religious, so, clearly, they had to get married. It was awful from the start, and the divorce was even worse. He never thought he would get married again.
I’ve never been married nor have I been around any successful marriages. Everyone in my family is divorced or single. I have no models of good marriages to look upon and learn from. I was raised on Disney movies that teach little girls to just be pretty, say little, sing nice, then get married. And everything will be fine. My idea of marriage is fantastical. My boyfriend’s is realistic.
So it was incredibly refreshing when, last night, we ran into two friends, a couple, at a barbeque. We know them peripherally, and we have never had a full-on conversation with them, but we have a lot in common. So we started talking.
I think I learned more about marriage in the two hours we spoke to them than in my almost 28 years of life.
We mostly talked to the woman of the couple, I’ll call her A. She is married to her husband, M, and they are both older than me and my boyfriend. They are fun, and older, which means they give good advice that we actually want to listen to. They eloped years ago and still haven’t told their parents, but they have been together 14 years and are incredibly happy.
It all started because A is trying to figure out if she wants to have kids. I strongly voiced my vote in favor of kids and we went back and forth discussing truths we have learned over the years. Then it turned to marriage. Which I asked her about pointedly. Turns out, she is our only married friend. And she is happy. I had to know what she thought.
She said many things, and mostly I talked. My boyfriend stayed silent, but he was listening. I could feel him listening. He was not bored nor was he actively trying to ignore us. He was in it. And I was talking.
A said two things I don’t want to ever forget because I think they are the two most beautiful things I have ever heard about marriage.
- It’s not about “can I spend my whole life with you?” It’s “can I spend this minute with you?”
To me, this means: we only know about this minute. We have no idea about “the rest of our lives.” We only know if we feel good this minute, if we can’t wait to spend the next minute with this person. And that’s all that matters. Putting one minute it front of the next.
- You get married when it goes from “can I spend the rest of my life with you?” to “I will never have enough time with you.”
And to me, this means: at first you ask yourself if this person is the one. If this person is your one. Do I want to be with this person forever? Then, at some point, the perspective shifts. And now life just feels like it will never be long enough. You want to live lifetime after lifetime so you can just spend more time with this person. Because you will never have enough time. It is tragic and beautiful all at once.
And now I know what I’m waiting for. I’m waiting not for the “right time” or to “have enough money” but to feel my perspective shift.