What and Where is the Worth?

So much is written here and other places about the struggle of marriage. Sharing your life with someone – all of your life with them – is rough at times. It takes a lot of effort and thought, a lot of patience and kindness. But! it is also fantastic and absolutely worth all of the annoying, frustrating, tough times (if you’re in a good one). After I wrote the post on marriage not being the end zone, I received some comments abut how hard marriage seemed and how it doesn’t seem all that great from the outside. I think that happens because so much of what is talked about in mainstream society puts marriage as the happy ending, the goal to a successful life, the destination. You say your vows and roll credits – that’s a wrap! And that is 100% completely and utterly false. A wedding is a beginning not an end, and the road is bumpy and full of pot-holes and cliffs with no guard rails. But the views can be spectacular and I wouldn’t miss the pitstops for the world.

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So what are the good things? What makes this whole thing worth it?

It is often in the small things, a hand on your thigh, on the small of your back, someone to dance with in the living room, a look across a crowded bar, waking up to someone every day.

It’s how Kamel makes me a better person, challenges me in all the right ways, doesn’t let me off the hook for things, knows me in a way that no one else does. We care for each other, we don’t let each other fail and sometimes that means holding each other to a certain standard and making sure we reach that standard. And I’m ok with that. If my marriage is all “Lauren, you best be nice! And not bitchy! And forgiving! And learn to praise people!” Then I’ll take it.

I also greatly enjoy sharing the business of life. UGH, MAN, the business of life! Is so! Exhausting!! Marriage and having a partner is awesome because now there is someone else to pay the cell phone bill and all my food doesn’t go bad because no one sells food for single people (which is really fucking annoying), and my strengths in life can be nurtured (like folding laundry and cleaning the bathroom), while my failures are as if they never happen (like taking out the garbage and doing the dishes) because I never have to do them again! Those are now someone else’s problem. MARRIAGE IS AMAZING FOR THOSE 2 THINGS ALONE. Life is complicated and having someone to take on some of that burden is a massive plus.

What else? Marriage is awesome because I genuinely really love hanging out with my husband. It is the greatest! I love spending time with him, he has made me laugh until I’ve peed, until I am crying hysterically, until I SNORT in public! He is always up to watch a movie or go for a walk (this one took some training) or explore a new part of any city.

My favorite thing about s is the complete lack of jealousy. I am also really proud of our willingness to grow as people, always moving forward. The silliness, we are silly and fun and the hard parts of life never seem that hard when we are doing them together.

There are so many great things, butย it doesn’t mean it isn’t hard. It doesn’t mean I don’t cry or say things I wish I didn’t or sometimes wish I wasn’t married at all. It doesn’t mean that sometimes I really would like to punch him right in the nose. It doesn’t mean we always get a long.

ButI love him, I love our marriage, I am so grateful for this life that feels sometimes like it came out of nowhere. We are lucky and at the same time we work hard for what we have. The worth of our marriage is priceless as long as we stay diligent within it.

What are the great things about your partnership? What do you cherish the most about sharing your life with someone else? What parts make the hard parts so so so worth it? It’s important to brag every now and then. Boast about what makes you and your partner and the life you are building together awesome.

13 thoughts on “What and Where is the Worth?”

  1. Yes. To all of this. Although we haven’t sealed the deal yet, living together has really made me consider our relationship in a different way. A friend asked me the other day what it was like living with D. I said the first thing that came to mind, which was “Right now, it’s just like having an endless sleepover with your best friend.”

    And it totally is. I come home every day and say “What should we do? Wanna go get ice cream? Watch Wheel of Fortune? Lay on top of the covers and stare at the ceiling fan because it’s too hot to do anything else? Yeah. Ok, cool!” That is my favorite part. Just having someone to share the everyday stuff with. And as a result, we develop our own inside jokes and catch phrases and silly things that belong only to us.

    And the complementary strengths are definitely next best. He sets alarms on his phone to remind him to replace the air filter! I would never even think to do that. But I will always remember to give the dog his flea treatment and send his cousin an anniversary card. So it all gets done.

    There are still those days we get on each other’s nerves, now more than ever. But all the other stuff? It’s so worth it.

  2. Oh, yes, sharing the business of life! It is awesome to divide chores by two. And I’m not gonna lie, also to share the bills instead of having two sets – more money for fun things!

    My favorite things about my relationship are: (1) that we want the same things out of life, both important things (e.g., likely no kids, lots of travel) and not-so-serious (e.g., we both get a lot of happiness from keeping up on the local restaurant and brewery scenes), which makes everyday hanging out fun. (2) We complement each other well, to the point where even our flaws make the other a better person. Like, we are both so. stubborn. and always want to be right. But being with him has made me realize that is not as important, so I am a bit less stubborn and more willing to give in. I’m a calming force to his get-worked-up ways, and he is good at distracting/making me laugh when I get sad/worried.

  3. Ah the good things about marriage!!

    I love my husband for little things and big. Because he likes to keep things tidy day to day but I enjoy doing the once a week house scrub down. When I get home at the end of my night shift he wakes up early so we can lay in bed and I can tell him about my day before he goes to work. He is someone I can tell those “boring to everyone but exciting to me” daily life things too and he totally gets excited too.

    Marriage is so often either reviled or put on an impossible pedestal. The truth is the middle, as it is with so many things. I love the consistency my marriage brings my very inconsistent life. Marriage to me means having someone to share the great times with, and softens the horrible times by knowing there is someone else invested in my future. Us invested in ours.

    Plus, ya know, hand holding and doin it.

  4. I think the best part about my husband and my marriage is how well we compliment each other. And by “compliment,” I mean that he’s different enough from me to always challenge me, even if he’s not trying. He sees things differently than I do, he has natural inclinations that contrast mine (like, he actually gets enjoyment out of exercise, which I simply cannot fathom), and we push each other to be good communicators even when we don’t feel like putting the effort in. Because of him, and my marriage, I am more self-aware, more self-improved, and more cognizant of my intentions.

    He tends to walk fast, but move slowly through life, and I am the opposite. So, while if it was up to him, we’d still be dating, but thanks to me, he’s more successful in his career than we think he’d be without me. I push him forward, he encourages me to slow down. He got a great postdoc thanks to my encouragement and support (and now a great faculty position), but he’s made sure I don’t make any crazy snap decisions. It’s not always fun to have those conversations where we’re opposite, but we value each other so highly and respect each other so much that it always works out for the better for us both.

  5. I love this!! I loved what you said about not missing the cliffs or the pit-stops. No guard rails, Alllll the road metaphors ๐Ÿ™‚

    L and I are not at the marriage stage yet, but we are moving in together this winter, and it is really exciting to be thoughtful about what we want to build, from the ground up, and not just falling into it, although I think there will probably be some of that too ๐Ÿ™‚ That thoughtfulness is something we have in common, which I love so much, and it’s also something we are different about, but I really love to watch our plans fill with ideas from our different perspectives. L can be more pragmatic, and I can be more impulsive and idealist. We pull each other to the middle of those two things in the best way! I love the small things, and I love hearing from partnered-or-married folks that the small things stick around and continue to bring so much fun! The hand on the thigh in the car even when we are tensed up about directions, or the random “I love yous” and the coffee dates at work! Lists is something we both nerd out over, making lists of things we want to make at home, kitchen/recipe ideas, restuarant we want to try, and linking each other to bourbon drinks we should DIY ๐Ÿ™‚ Gosh, I could keep bragging! ๐Ÿ™‚ Mostly, the balance we bring to each other, the respect we have for each other, and the buddy-system with the business of life – those are two of my favorite things that I cannot wait to grow as we head into the living-together phase!

  6. Such an awesome list! Agreed; marriage is the best.

    A lot of the things that I could list were also true when David and I were just in a long term relationship and not yet married. I know that marriage is different for everyone and that not everyone feels changed after getting married.

    In our case both David and I have said that our marriage definitely changed us, as a couple and as individuals. The number one greatest thing about being married for me is that the act of marrying David removed the last remaining barriers between us. I still feel vulnerable sometimes, and I still get nervous or embarrassed or sometimes even ashamed to tell him things. But those feelings no longer stop me from reaching out to him. He is there, always. And it doesn’t matter if he is angry or disappointed in me or annoyed–he is still my active partner, always. I am not going to push him away with my feelings or my mistakes.

    This may have been true before marriage–in fact, I would have insisted that it was true. But once we got married, I believed it. It locked into place for me. I am this man’s partner. And he is mine. And we choose to be partners every day. That choice is the highest priority, always, in both of our lives. Anger toward one another doesn’t jeopardize that choice. Frustration or disappointment or boredom doesn’t endanger or threaten that choice. The choice to love one another, to be partners, to be married, if the thing that allows us to move through all other obstacles. To cry and be hurt and heal and make amends and do better. Marriage gives me freedom to push, to work toward becoming my best self, and always having a champion at my back.

  7. I feel like this third year has been our hardest year. We’re learning to live with each other again after he has been off traveling for at least 5 days a week for 19 months. He came home to a 10 month old and I had a ROUTINE. We’re getting ready to celebrate our third anniversary and so I do want to brag on him. As hard as it has been lately, I wouldn’t trade it (or him) for anything. He has been my rock as we’ve gone through some rough stuff. He has definitely challenged me and made me laugh and forced me out of my comfort zone. He is my movie buddy and even kept me company the other night while I was sewing. Our son is this wonderful mix of the two of us and we wouldn’t have Elliott if we didn’t have each other. And that’s big stuff. And now I’m tearing up…at work. Thanks, Lauren.

    1. You know – I think our third was also our hardest. New baby the whole time, we moved, lots of transition, lots of re-figuring-out our world. It was rough. Since our anniversary things have gotten steadily better and better. I am crossing my fingers you have the same experience!

  8. I love this post and comments. I actually had plans to post something similar, spurred by those silly Buzzfeed “Weird Things Couples Do” videos. Because those videos, unlike almost all cultural representation of marriage or live-in coupledom, actually show the little things that are so enjoyable about a healthy relationship. Like holding hands in bed or someone else remembering for you whether you like Dijon mustard.

    For me, the little things are–he kills the bugs in the house and remembers about Trash Day. If I lived in this house alone, the trash/recycling would pile up for months and would be a public health hazard because I neverrrr remember trash day. There are lots of other little things but these are the ones that I’m like THANK GOD, someone else is handling that. The big stuff is that I feel so solid in our relationship that I am free to go off in the world and be me. Like I have a stable foundation to jump off from. He supports me in being my best me so well and so fully and I am so grateful for that. I love having someone whose opinion I trust who I can bounce all my ideas and quandaries and decisions of my life off of. And the magic of marriage is that he is the person who knows me, including all my flaws, best and the person who loves me the most. And vice versa.

    My favorite quote on marriage is “You are the known way leading always to the unknown, and you are the known place to which the unknown is always leading me back” (by the incomparable Wendell Berry). This is exactly what it feels like to me.

  9. Wow Lauren, you really are a writer, this is beautiful. Perfect timing too as tomorrow (well, today, as I write this) is our 4th anniversary. I love that we both really want to travel and it is something we try to do even if sometimes it is just weekend or 1-day excursions to places around us we have never been before. I love how we make each other better persons, how Mark is always pushing me (example to study for my (European) driving’s license even if though needed I find it extremely boring. I love how we can help each other out and compliment each other, he is better at being tidy, organized, getting rid of unwanted stuff, stopping my hoarding tendencies, I am better at cooking, organizing, taking care of our social schedule. I love how we are really different but we understand and know each other so well.
    I love that we are learning to communicate even if sometimes it is really hard because we are both a pair of stubborn donkeys…
    Thanks for sharing this and for putting words to things that many of us feel yet have trouble articulating.

  10. He downloads America’s Next Top Model for me without judgement.

    This year is our 8th anniversary of marriage and 13th year of being together. Since our son was born we’ve had a few more rough patches because I was terrible at asking for help and he was terrible at finding his own space to be a Dad, but whenever it was bad, and I wanted to punch him in the nose or walk out the door, I asked myself if my life would be better off without him. The answer’s always no. My life is better because he’s in it, because of what we share, because of who he is and what we’ve created together.

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