Marriage the Continued Saga

A while after I got engaged I was driving across a bridge, I remember exactly where I was (and I have almost written this exact sentence some time ago, I know it), and I remember that it suddenly hit me: I am not at all any happier being engaged than I was not being engaged.

We are almost 3 years married. It’s like a blip on the marriage-time continuum. But even so, it absolutely boggles me that I spent so much time and mental energy chasing this existence. I don’t even mean I was out to get an MRS degree, I don’t mean I was searching searching searching for a husband all of the time. I had long periods of being single and long periods of being not single and short periods of staccato dating. But ultimately I was always searching for that partner whether or not I knew it.

I think even the coolest among us has a small shred of expectation of what being married will be like, and that expectation is probably (not absolutely, but most likely) wrong.

I don’t even remember what I thought it would be, I just remember seeing it with a big sigh of relief. The finish line. I made it. Check it off the list. Once I get there, won’t that be grand?

And it wasn’t not grand. It was great! Yay engagement! Someone wanted me forever and ever! ME! Of all people! And I wanted him back, thank goodness… otherwise, awk-ward.

On Monday our stroller was stolen from our car. Our car was parked in our spot in a secure garage. Our car was parked in our spot in a secure garage and it just so happened to be unlocked.

The car I had before this car, the car I had for almost 10 years didn’t have automatic locks. You had to push down every single little nubbin before closing the doors. It was easy to lock your keys in it. I got good at reminding my friends to lock their doors behind them, I got good at doing a quick scan to see if any of the nubbins were still sticking up. My car was broken into once. Someone bashed in one of the tiny side windows. Even when I had it detailed they missed some of the glass wedged between the floor mat and the door.

Kamel left the car doors unlocked because he was relying on the auto-lock feature. It was a frustrating mistake as I am religious about locking the doors and this has been an annoying small argument Kamel and I have. Did you lock the doors? They auto lock. I don’t care, all you have to do is push the button, just push the button.

And so on.

Kamel felt really bad. He knew he had fucked up. He said he would fix it, replace the stroller, make sure to lock the car doors every time. No matter what.

And that’s great. I mean, it was a mistake and we all make them and we all learn from them (And, as a bonus, I got to say I told you so…. so win for everyone?) but the problem is that when you’re married it’s not like he can really “fix” a mistake that costs us money. It’s not like either of us can really say, “oh, don’t worry, I’ll handle it and it will be like it never happened [insert hypnotism voice here].” It means we won’t be able to make a household purchase we needed to make, it means the constant tug-a-war of marriage where one of our choices ripple effects the other, it means if one of us makes a mistake we’re both paying for it.

This is a very small thing. It is a 3 year thing. It is a blip in the marriage-time continuum. But it’s an example of how marriage doesn’t mean what I thought it meant. It means something way more complicated than can ever be expressed, not even when you ask a person to spend forever with you, not even when you say your vows.

Marriage keeps asking me to be a better person than I was before. To be patient, to be kind, to be selfless. It also pushes me to be strong, to be firm, and challenges me to not lose myself. Marriage has granted me stability and that buddy I was always looking for. But it is also so much work.

Engagement was hard, but it was like an uphill sprint that lead you to a beautiful vista. It sucked and there were tears and massive fatigue. After surviving that, I thought, marriage was a cake walk! Marriage is the marathon. It’s 100 thousand marathons. I think there are probably 100 thousand finish lines and victories. There are also the really wonderful times where I think, “I got this. We got this. We are the greatest people alive!” and then there are the times where it’s, “Who told us to do this?! This was the worst idea ever!”

It’s not that it isn’t awesome. It is awesome. There is an intimacy with sharing your entire life with someone that cannot be correctly expressed. But being attached to someone forever and ever with the million jillion nooks and crannies of what that entails – it melts my brain thinking that so many people are racing towards that. It’s lovely in its beautiful simplicity of happily ever after, the white dress, the cake, the toasts. But it’s when you really truly would like to shove your partner down the stairs, and you don’t, and then you end up maybe loving them even more (though it may take a few days/months/years) for their annoying faults when the magic actually happens. It’s just a marathon of work to get there.

We are officially, legally, changing our names this week. We both had to pay court fees and have it changed by a judge because I waited too long and, for Kamel, that’s just how it works when a man changes his name. I eased into my married name like gradually slipping into a hot tub. It overwhelmed me at first, but then it was kind of thrilling, and then we had Gabe and he officially became the first Dupuis-Perez, and then a year after filling out his name on a million forms it’s finally our turn. In some ways it feels like a renewal of vows. We’re doing this whole legal thing all over again, the part where we say, “Yes. We are family and we are stickin’ to it.” I like it. It’s obnoxiously non-sentimental but it makes me want to dance around in my underpants chanting,”We changed our names, we changed our names, we changed our names.” Marriage, man… what a trip.

15 thoughts on “Marriage the Continued Saga”

  1. I absolutely love how frank and honest you are when it comes to discussing stuff that society as a whole does NOT like to talk about. Like the fact that marriage is work, that having a baby is going to change you in a whole bunch of different ways, that sometimes you are not going to like being married but that you are going to keep working at it, that not being in the career you want when you expected to be is going to happen, etc. When lots of people tend to gloss over this stuff I can always count on you to talk about it.THANK YOU for always being willing to =).

    1. I think if I didn’t have this I would be a crazy person scribbling in a journal in a coffee shop trying to ask strangers personal questions about their lives and over-sharing all over town. Thankfully this is more socially acceptable. Hahaha.

  2. What a big, exciting day! Name change! (Also, the rest of this too – marriage is some much more than a finish line!)

  3. YES! A similar discussion happened in my marriage recently. Husband wants to go on his annual boys’ trip. I would rather not spend that money. (Not because we don’t have it, but it wouldn’t be on my list of things to splurge on.) His response was that I should take a similar trip and feel better. Although that’s kind and giving of him to say that he’ll support our household/family while I’m away, that would also mean we would spend for two trips. Doesn’t feel like a compromise at all to me. My conclusion: marriage is hard. However, the veterans in my family tell me that it is worth it. Perhaps it’s similar to how child rearing is so difficult but it’s rewarding as well.

    Congrats on the family name. Sounds like there are big things happening lately in your household!

  4. Oooh, yes, great stuff. (Did you know Glennon Melton is writing on a similar topic today at momastery.com?)

    I had this realization one time when the hubs and I were canoeing together. I paddle in the front, adding some strength, but the hubs paddles in the back to steer. And that means I have to deal with the times when he steers us wrong and right into a big log and we whack into it and the water sloshes into the boat. I can curse at him, or I can recognize that only one of us can steer at a time, and I don’t always want to steer. And I realized, THAT is marriage. Committing to sharing the steering of your life with someone else, which means sometimes they make it better, and sometimes they crash the canoe/get the stroller stolen/make it harder. And once you realize that that is marriage for realz, if you can love someone enough to stay with them – and join your names – then THAT is the fairy tale. Or at least, maybe that’s what the fairy tales were all trying to tell us, they just got oversimplified somewhere along the way.

  5. “I’ll make it better!” is not as comforting as most people think, is my theory. I am the overly confident in technology one in my two-some, and I just walked out to my car to ensure it is all locked up. ๐Ÿ™‚

    You once posted about how K’s mistakes, or moods, or general being effect yours and that has always really resonated with me. I have a hard enough time not ruining my own life, trying not to make mistakes, now even when I do everything “right,” there is someone else whose mistakes completely effect my life. I love my life buddy, and am grateful for the partnership, but holy damn it is aggrivating more often than I’d care to admit.

  6. This is very interesting for me to read as someone who is not married. Marriage has always been something I’ve wanted and dreamed about. I’m a pretty stereotypical girl in that sense. And while I have been in a very long term relationship, we aren’t headed toward the aisle any time soon (for many reasons) and sometimes I get really impatient. But other times I’m really really relieved I’m still “single”. I was just talking to a friend who is coming up on anniversary #2 and she was telling me how sometimes she’ll think to herself “omg what did I do? I married a crazy person and I’m stuck with them for life” and how sometimes she still has doubts. And that’s something I’ve never heard one married person say before. And I was thrown because I was like “is that allowed? Aren’t all the doubts gone once you say ‘I do’?” But of course its allowed and I’m sure lots of married people think that way. But you’re right when you say it’s not a finish line. It’s not a task on the “to do list”. It’s a commitment that you probably have to make to yourself and your partner every single day to love, respect, support, encourage, and challenge one another.
    The older I get the scarier marriage seems but I know its something I want for myself and I’ll eventually find that person where all the good things outweigh the negative ones and while there might be some lingering doubts, that anchoring feeling of “this person is in it to the end *with* me–together” will push them away. Thanks for being a breath of fresh air and helping us single folk see that maybe it is healthy to be a little scared (intimidated?) of marriage and all that it demands, but that it can be oh-so-fulfilling and enriching and full of adventures.

  7. Hi …
    I just loved what you said.

    Frank and I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary at the end of this month. It has not been easy, I guess, nothing is easy. One day, I asked Frank “what do you like the most about our marriage?” (you know? me pushing to hear something to fill up my ego ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) and he said, “I love being married to you”… to be honest, I never expected this kind of answer. I am not an easy person… sometimes… not always.We are still in the process of facing many issues… different from what you are and the next to come… I guess at the end, there are situations that teach you something, and for those that don’t, I had to learn to let it go. We have learned to agree to disagree. Sometimes, you are favored sometimes you are not…. live your day to the fullest and be happy. Congratulations on your new names… ๐Ÿ™‚ Saludos from SoCal.

  8. Sometimes I feel like David and I have been married forever, but it’s only been a year and a half. It is both the easiest and the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

    Congratulations on the name change!

  9. The name change is so exciting. Congratulations!

    Sometimes I think we are twins or something weird because I just finally changed my name as well, and I love that everyone shares it, we-are-family, happy dance.

    “But itโ€™s when you really truly would like to shove your partner down the stairs, and you donโ€™t, and then you end up maybe loving them even more (though it may take a few days/months/years) for their annoying faults when the magic actually happens.”

    This… you have such a way with words you express so well “simple” everyday stuff that is actually complicated.

  10. I’ve been married to my husband for two and a half years now, and together for over seven. There are times that I look at him and ask myself how I got so lucky, while there are plenty of times that I ask him how HE got so lucky. We make each other better people sure, and trust me, when he goes out of his way to do nice things for me because I’ve been extra busy at work, I love him to bits. But marriage is him cooking me dinner because I’m exhausted, and right before I grab a plate, I notice that the stove top is covered in grease splatters and burned crusty bits. It’s the good with the bad.

    To be honest I never wanted to get married. I felt like getting married was asking to be let down, and for failure. It wasn’t until I felt like it would be better to be bound to this person, then unbound. That’s when I knew I wanted to marry him. I don’t feel like our relationship has changed much though – not in any other way besides the normal we’re getting older (and hopefully) wiser ways. I try to look at things in terms of us vs. every thing else. We’re constantly growing as people ourselves, so of course our relationship changes with that. We try to make sure we’re on the same page, and when we’re not, well, we try our hardest to get back there.

    People will tell you that relationships take work, but it’s the daily hum drum that takes the most. The not screaming at your partner because for the love of god your coat does not belong on the kitchen counter! type of work. Sigh. But it’s worth it. Even on the days that I have dinner made for me, just to have to scrape the burned bits off of the stove top. It’s a job that pays in kisses and kindness, and I’m glad to have it.

    1. I heard this somewhere about marriage: It’s ok if we’re not always looking at each other, as long as we are looking in the same direction.

      (Did I read that in a comment here? I can’t remember, so many people are so wise)

      1. It is a quote by Antoine de Saint Exupery (the one of the little prince). I always write it on cards when people get married.

        “”Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.”

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