Marriage is not a long running Adulation Festival, whereby you are the rock star and your spouse is the groupie. It doesn’t work like that. No matter how great you think your spouse thinks you are, eventually your ugly little flaws, lying dormant beneath the shiny gold-plated veneer of untested love, will emerge and your spouse will mention them in an argument; or worse- as casual, constructive, criticism.
I have a tendency to nurture a flourishing, superiority complex. My dear imaginary friends, sometimes I think I am better. My unattractive affectation is reserved for members of my birth family; I am tolerant of others. I can’t remember the exact occasion when my husband mentioned the abhorrent behavior but I can recall what a crushing blow it was to realize that somehow the pedestal I was on had toppled and he didn’t think I was as perfect as I’d led him to believe. Instead, he thought I was a snooty, snob to my own family.
To keep you apprised of the situation, if my siblings are going to behave like slackers they’ll be treated like slackers. They know better, and I know they know better. My husband is excessively permissive. I, on the other hand, have standards!
The cash spent on pretty gifts and baubles during your courtship will, at some point, dry up. You may have a discussion over a fifty dollar footstool. It will be a conversation that is entirely alien to you and one that you are resistant to engage in. You will probably keep the footstool because you paid for it with your own damn money. Decades later you may mention to your husband that you’d like to have it reupholstered. He will tell you that he likes it the way it is. You won’t get it reupholstered because you love him and the silly thing is a testimony to your alliance.
You will, more than likely, endure financial hardship. You will have to do without so that others can make do. For us, doing without has meant that the descendants have been provided for and that the steady stream of sick and dying people in our families have been cared for with love. We struggled through several years when catastrophic illness and death were the main themes in our lives. We learned to rely exclusively on each other. There was plenty of disagreement about the best way to achieve our objectives. In the end, we did what was best for our people, which was best for us.
The “in sickness and in health” clause in the wedding vows is most important. There is nothing more painfully exhausting than loving someone who is seriously ill or injured. In those instances, the inside is far more important than the outside. There will be days when you want reassurance but you can’t request it from your spouse because your job is to provide it.
If you are lucky, you will get old together. What was firm will become flabby. When you recline your bodies will spread out like pancakes on a hot griddle. You will admire each other’s deterioration. You will offer endearing encouragements on the steady march of decline. You won’t care that you’re not as physically attractive as you once were. You’ll be happy to have each other because nothing else matters.
“…it is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry