Friday, August 28, 2009

Marry Me a Little - Marry Me a Lot

Dear Husband and I are celebrating our 10 year anniversary today. I am very blessed to have him with me on the journey. He puts up with a lot (he will say I do, too, but I have to say that my faults loom larger to me) and he is always thoughtful, always looking out for us. This morning he came by my workplace with coffee and bagels to surprise me. Those sorts of gestures come naturally to him. I am not nearly so thoughtful or intentional, even though I love him dearly.

I did not have a good model for marriage. My parents really sucked at it. In fact, when I was in my teens and 20s I was pretty forceful in expressing my disdain for marriage. I was positive I was not going to get married, that the whole institution of marriage was a farce. I wasn’t interested in any potential spiritual aspects. Given this, I don’t think it’s any surprise that my first marriage failed. We married as an expedient. We loved each other, but what we really needed was a green card for him. That’s how I made my peace with a trip to Manhattan City Hall. From the outside we seemed a perfect match. We had the same leftist political opinions, the same love of literature and art, the same educational background. I have not much memory of those years, because I did not develop in any way. I was happy to be in agreement. Marriage seemed so effortless I wasn’t sure what all the fuss was about. This was nothing like my parent’s angry, vitriolic marriage. He was a very forceful personality, very ambitious, and it was easy to simply stand in the shadows. Until, of course, I started to think that I needed a bit more light. Actually, “think” is a bit too strong. I would never have admitted that I wanted out because the fear of being alone was so deep, but I took a way out, a very messy and hurtful one.

I learned a lot from that marriage and from being married to Dear Husband. We began on somewhat shaky ground, with me pregnant after only a few months of dating, so we had to learn a lot about each other as we went along. We have different political views, different educational backgrounds, different tastes, different approaches to religion. I’ve found it necessary to actually articulate my own opinions and pursue my own interests. I’ve had to work at understanding his point of view. Marriage no longer seems effortless, that’s for sure. Sometimes I still coast along. That’s one of my big weaknesses. My desire to avoid conflict is strong. Retreat and isolation are top of my list for self defense. Not possible to maintain that in our household. I often feel that Dear Husband carries the majority of the burden – where I’m scattered and disorganized, he does the budget and pays the bills and remembers to take the cars into the shop and get the grass cut. I have trouble planning and estimating time. He’s great at that. Sometimes I wonder what on earth I DO contribute (you can find his thoughts here). I’m thankful he thinks I’m an asset.

Now, if only marriage were available to everyone. England at least recognizes civil partnership, and we haven’t even managed that. Churches are roiling with conflicts over marrying gay and lesbian couples, and with the ordination of gay and lesbian clergy. I have never understood, will never understand the opposition. I reject any biblical claims (which I think have been misrepresented, exaggerated, and often flat-out fabricated) on the matter and am simply dumbfounded that anyone who knows how scripture was used to advocate slavery would dare to use it to advocate another kind of oppression.

But let me get off my soapbox. I will leave you with a song that I like very much. And much to Dear Husband’s chagrin, no doubt, the version I found on YouTube is sung by John Barrowman (Torchwood again!), who in 2006 entered into a civil partnership with his boyfriend. Way to go, John Barrowman. “Marry Me a Little” (by Stephen Sondheim) pretty much sums up the wrong way to look at marriage and is pretty close to what I used to think.


  1. There is something to be said for yin and yang. Perfect harmony of two pieces, seemingly opposites, yet fitting perfectly together. Happy Anniversary to you and your dear husband.

  2. Today is my 22nd anniversary. I concur with a lot of your thoughts.
    Hope it was a happy day,

  3. Congratulations on 10 years of married life. Hubby and I will have been married for 23 years next month - where does the time go?

  4. I've done it twice also, gotten married, that is.

    The first time lasted over 20 years, but I was miserable for too many of them. We had two children together, and I would not undo one gene in their bodies, but the marriage was a great mistake.

    Then after a period on my own, J and I married more than 30 years ago. It can work! It is good that we made a commitment rather than just living together as the first couple of years were rough. I had learned all the wrong things the first time around, but the commitment kept us trying.

  5. RT: Thanks for your good wishes. Yes, the balance of opposites is good. Too much of either is a mess.

    Zen: Congratulations to you, too! Today we visited a monastery and had a lovely, peaceful time.

    Petty: Thanks, and congrats in advance for your own anniversary.

    LLI: I'm glad you found the right person in the end. It took me a while to catch onto the commitment part of marriage. When I was young I thought it was so unnecessary. It's a discipline.

  6. I recently celebrated 24 years of marriage. It has been a lot of learning how to love through all kinds of life circumstances...thank you for this thoughtful reflection.

  7. I advocate gay marriage simply because I'm shocked that it's not already legal. But I don't see myself ever sharing in that particular liberty, unless I meet someone like Dear Husband. And even then, I'm sure I could still find a way to chase him away!!

  8. Happy Congratulations on 10 years!
    I've been married twice.
    Turns out,I'm not very good at it.

  9. Mompriest: Yes, in 10 years we've been through many different and often harrowing situations. Love gets a lot of exercise.

    JP: Well, I don't think everyone wants marriage, which is okay. To me, you seem like you would be a catch, so perhaps someone will come after you and not let you get away.

    Sling: Thanks! Well, my ex has moved on to number 3 and they're still together. Perhaps third time's the charm. Or you may be happier not married. You seem to have a good time.