Tuesday, August 10, 2010

About Marriage

"It is the prerogative of all humans to make ludicrous choices, to fall in love with the most unlikely of partners, and to set themselves up for the most predictable of calamities." - Liz Gilbert, Committed

Just the other day I was having lunch with someone who is getting married on Friday. She asked if I have any marriage advice and I told her I didn't. I know, what was I thinking! For me not to have advice?? And ever since, naturally, I can't stop thinking about all the advice "I don't have".

Elizabeth Gilbert, in her wonderful sequel to “Eat, Pray, Love”, called "Committed" (which is her book about marriage), reveals concepts which are both profound and poignant. One of her main conclusions that a successful and happy marriage has as many meanings and interpretations as there are married people in the world. I agree.

Over the years I have accumulated a mental and emotional collections of conclusions about marriage. Most of these conclusions I kind of believe in now, sort of, depending on the day. A kind of “non-advice” on marriage. 

Warning: these are guaranteed to only make sense to me and me alone (and even this claim is a bit shaky). So, read at your own risk of disillusionment, disagreement and general indigestion. But since this a blog about life as I know, what the heck, I’ll indulge in sharing them.

My top 10 “non-advice” / thoughts about marriage:

1. It’s a crapshoot. Sometimes you get lucky and you end up having a fantastic marriage (according to your own definition of what it means). And don't kid yourself, it ain't gonna feel that way every day. But in my book of marriage, good enough is the new perfect.
2. Love shouldn't hurt. Trying to sit with one bottom on too many chairs (if you catch my drift) will. So, don't.
3. I've read this one somewhere and I've grown to agree: don't marry someone you can live with; marry someone you can't live without. And this one is not about neediness. More about passion and intimacy.
4. Butterflies in your stomach (the good kind, those with blue fluffy wings) are very, VERY important to be present. Being deeply, passionately, head-over-heels in love is a good baseline for a marriage. It’s a not a guarantee for having a good marriage, and, in fact, it will make you more vulnerable and prone to getting your heart broken, but who cares cause it feels so good!
5. People don't change; they become more and more themselves. Mary Karr, the author of many cool books, wrote: "Every woman signs up thinking that her husband will change...every husband signs up believing his wife won't: both dead wrong."
6. There are no rules when it comes to intimate relationships (including marriage). You make the shit up as you go.
7. When it comes to marriage, never say never. Seriously!
8. It’s OK to elope. In fact, it could be really liberating. People will be pissed off. But if it floats your boat...
9. Speaking of people, nothing will ever be enough for them. When you get engaged, they'll hound you to death for a wedding date. As soon as you are done with that (or not!), they'll want to know when you are planning to "start your family" (some may politely inquire right at the wedding) and they'll keep asking about "having another one" until you have at least nine kids (after that – this is not from a personal experience, but I’ve seen this happen – they’ll kind of smirk that you have a “few too many”). So, if you are new to this marriage thing, brace yourselves! And, most importantly, kids or not, don’t try to please anyone but each other!
10. And speaking of pleasing each other: really loving someone is just amazing luck. Having a life partner who loves you back, the best way they know how, is like winning the lottery…every day! Gilbert, towards the end of her book on marriage, says: "There is hardly a more gracious gift that we can offer somebody than to accept them fully, to love them almost despite themselves."

I have a feeling I will keep tweaking these on ongoing basis. In fact, I think I want to change a couple of them already! What was I saying about it being a crapshoot?


Zhi Jenni said...

This is ssssooo helpful!! Thank you for the insights and writing!

Love and Acceptance,

梵婗 Fanny Lawren said...

Good non-advices! Love the line "good enough is the new perfect." Please allow me to translate and repost. Thanks.

Unknown said...

Before you get married, you should make sure that it's all about love which includes intimacy, passion, and decision commitment.
Intimacy is the feeling of closeness, of connectedness with someone, of bonding.
Passion is what you thinks it is and it leads to romance.
Decision commitment is the decision that one is in a love relationship, the willingness to label it as such, and a commitment to maintain that relationship.
After you guys married, keep those components in mind and you guys will happy forever.

Anonymous said...

#9 definitely struck a cord. If I had a dime for every time someone has asked me when the wedding date is since our engagement about 2 months ago... and the unsolicited advice on how-to-do-everything-wedding that comes along with it. A friend actually asked me about the wedding date ON the day of our engagement, as soon as I finished breaking the news to her. Though I'm a bit of a hypocrite, I guess, because I'm kinda sorta guilty of having asked the same question of others in the past... "So, when is the wedding?" The shoe's on the other foot now, huh?

Val Williams said...

Awesome non-advice!!

Rina Koshkina said...

:)) thank you

rmgclu said...

We're coming up on 45 years and one thing I can confirm is that you have to treat each day as an adventure. Anyone who says they have this thing figured out is a big fat liar. There is no set formula, as you so aptly suggest. Live, love, laugh, and the rest will follow. Hugs to you and yours! i LOVE reading your blogs - even if it takes me a little while to catch up. Thank you!