Can I tell you something? I’m scared to death of being unhappily married. Of course I’m single, never been married, so don’t be surprised if a lot of what I say on this topic is stupid or uninformed or just plain wrong. But I’ve got to talk about it.
When you’re a little girl, you have this idea that your prince charming will come sweep you off your feet, and your wedding day will be the beginning of happily ever after. As you grow up, you realize that there’s no such thing as happily ever after in real life. Getting married won’t make you any happier, it won’t make life any easier, it just is what it is. Getting married is joining your life, imperfect as it is, to someone else’s life, also imperfect. In the best scenario, you are teaming up with your best friend and facing life’s joys and challenges together. At least, that’s my perception of marriage right now.
However, as you grow up and realize that a girl’s wedding day isn’t the beginning of perfection, it occurs to you that being happily married must take a good amount of work. And you start to wonder, how does a couple build and maintain a happy marriage? I really started to notice the relationships of people I knew who had been married for a long time. It’s impossible to know what a relationship is really like unless you’re one of the people in the relationship, but I started to notice two types of relationships.
There are some couples who seem to be happy to be together. They each have their own lives, but they want to be around each other. They go on vacations, they go on dates, they sit together on the couch and watch t.v. They make each other laugh, they consult each other when things get rough. They argue and make up. They seem to have a smooth way of making decisions together. They seem to truly enjoy each other’s company.
Then there are the couples who seem to be stuck with one another. They each have their own lives, and they seem like they would prefer to not have the other person in their life at all. They don’t spend time in the same room when they’re at home. They only go on vacations together if it’s a family trip. They only out together if they are meeting other friends. They only spend time together at home if they are doing something with the children. They argue, and they stop arguing, but nothing ever gets resolved. They can’t seem to make decisions as a couple, so whoever encounters the decision first just takes care of it, without consulting the other person. They don’t even like each other!
That second type of relationship, the one where they’re stuck with each other, is what I’m terrified of. What is the difference??? How did that couple become that way? Was the relationship like that from the beginning? If so, why did they ever get married? Was it happy in the beginning, but the people changed that much over the years, that they turned into people the other one doesn’t like anymore? Was it because of having kids? If so, I don’t want to have kids! You know how much I’ve always wanted to be a mom, so maybe that tells you exactly how scared I am of an unhappy marriage. If the kids are going to grow up and move out and I will be stuck with someone who doesn’t like me living in my house for the rest of my life, then I’d rather not have kids at all. Having kids in the house is maybe 18 to 25 years, depending on how many you have. Marriage is the rest of your life, which is hopefully a lot longer than 18 to 25 years. I don’t want to sacrafice the rest of my life, the rest of my happiness, for that one goal of being a mom. If those 18 years are going to ruin the rest of my life, it’s not worth it.
Maybe that’s selfish, but you have to understand. It’s not fair for a kid to grow up and realize their parents don’t even like each other. It’s not fair for a kid to grow up and be old enough to get married, and want to, but be scared of it because of what they’ve seen in their parents’ relationship. You’ve heard the expression that a mother’s job is to give her children both roots and wings? Well, in my opinion, the parents’ relationship is the roots. If that relationship is unstable or unhappy, it feels like you have no roots. There’s nothing happy to go home to. It doesn’t matter how much they love me, if they can’t love each other, there are no roots. I refuse to raise children into that situation if I can help it.
The Boy and I have been talking about marriage a lot lately. (Not ME AND HIM, you overly excited nosy people! We’re barely a couple. Just marriage in general!) I love that he makes me so comfortable and it’s so easy to be honest with him. But at the same time, I don’t want him to see how terrified I am of having an unhappy marriage. I’m afraid that being scared of being unhappy in a relationship means that I won’t know how to make a happy relationship, or at least I’m scared that’s what he will think. Despite the fact that we are taking things slowly and we are just in the beginning, he has such a clear vision of where this relationship could possibly go in the future. I would hate for him to think that I don’t want to go there with him, because I do.
I just really want to know what makes the difference! How do I get from happily single, to happy newlywed, through happy motherhood if that’s in the cards, to happily married for 20 or 30 years? What makes the difference between happily married and stuck with each other?