Otherwise Known As: Reflections on Marriage after Two Years
Well yes, I know. That’s not very long. It’s still the honeymoon phase.
The expected thing to say is something about how lucky, how grateful, how fortunate we are. Which we are, of course, and we recognize and affirm constantly. But there’s more to it than that.
Let’s just say this is the first in a series of yearly reflections. I’m interested to see how my (our) experience of the marriage experience lines up with the general cultural commentary about marriage as the years to come come to pass.
There’s three primary aspects I’ve been thinking about in these early years of marriage. They are: being a good fit for each other, being ready for continual change, and emotional management.
I remember hearing that phrase, “shared values”, in the past, and wondering about it. It seems so abstract- until you try to get close to someone who doesn’t share your way of living.
I’ve heard there is this trend amongst city folk our age called FOMO -Fear of Missing Out. Fear of commitment because it might mean passing up that other, better, option you could possibly meet tomorrow.
Perhaps it’s my Mainer naivety, but I never experienced that feeling. When a friend first described this reality under which many people are functioning- I was surprised to hear of it.
Because, as I’ve understood it, relationships are about good fit, being good for each other. There’s no linearity to it. They need the shared-ness of values. Values about the world, about how we move through it, about how we spend our time, and about how we like to be in relationship.
For myself: I value freedom and the individual over just about anything else. It makes me a poor match for someone who is more community-minded. I’m just as unable to understand them (on a mind-level) as they are unable to understand me. I value ambition, and choice, and change. I need to be with someone who reflects that. And in relationship, I need to be adored, and will return that.
And it’s simpler things too: I value a clean house. I value enough sleep, and being healthy, and really deep conversation. These are ways of being we reflect in each other.
Being a healthy human means being in change. The first resolution that Daniel and I have made to each other about relationship reflects this: we need to be constantly changing, growing and exploring. We are doing that together. And so this means we must communicate. Continually.
This aspect of constant change is the riskiest part of the marriage proposition. How can one take that gamble, that, even given that initial “good fit, well-matched” set of attributes, we will continue to evolve well together?
The final resolution is about managing the negatives. Emotions, uncomfortable feelings, problems that have no immediate solution. We use a strategy that looks like this:
- identify the source of the emotion. name it. look at it. if it’s a problem, solve it.
- move on. change what we are doing, thinking, acting. focus elsewhere. go climbing.
- if that doesn’t work, exert a little bit of social pressure. “I need you, as my partner, to let this go, to be strong, to snap out of it.”
In general, it seems like most people give their emotions a little too much credence. Just don’t. They are like weather.
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