MARRIAGE OR HAPPINESS…YOU CAN’T HAVE BOTH

Let me disclaim this thing right from the beginning: marriage is dandy; I’m a supporter. I like marriage more than I like divorce. This is not an advisory comment on social standards, but a blog post by someone who is free, drinking wine and wondering about stuff.

A friend of mine visited me for advice today. Right off the bat I knew he was in trouble…if you come to me for advice, you have exhausted all reasonably intelligent alternatives.

He’s married to a gorgeous woman who used to be a teacher (like him) but who didn’t “enjoy the restrictive bonds of a conventional job”. So she resigned to become a home-maker. They have a lovely 5 year old boy, and with mom at home they were set for eternal bliss.

As far as I’m concerned, being a home-maker is no easy task. You have to be everything. And you have to be everything while being kind and friendly and lovingly tolerant of everyone’s shit. And I don’t doubt that my friend’s wife is all of these things. But in my country and in the current economic climate, one income families really are a thing of the past and reserved for only those privileged enough to own Microsoft…

So here we were. My friend lamenting his dire financial position, made more dire by his wife’s uncontrollable need to buy shoes and support her jobless family. Lamenting the fact that they can no longer afford swimming lessons for his son. Lamenting his wife’s lamentations that ensuring the kid bathes before bed and actually eats his vegetables are too much for her to handle…

I’m single and child free, and becoming progressively more grateful for this status the more my friend and I chat. I have no advice because what could I possibly say? But a few questions into our conversation I had enough courage to ask: do you still love her?

I was satisfied that I had the answer around the third time he said: there is our son to think of.

I think my parents loved each other the first three years of their marriage. Then my dad really loved booz. And then they really loved each other again 25 years later when he stopped drinking. My mom often said that she was so happy she stuck around, because “look at what a wonderful guy your dad is…”

And I was happy she stuck around, and I’m thrilled he stopped drinking. But there is 25 years’ worth of damage that I deal with every day. Damage that I see in my brother. While I know…I know…there would have been other colors of damage had my mom left my father, I can’t help but wonder what would have been had she done so.

I see happy marriages all around. I also see unhappy marriages and people clinging to it regardless. I admire that…but only because I’ve been raised to admire that. Deep inside of me there is a little girl who wonders if it’s worth it. Even from a religious point of view…is it worth it?

I guess much of my wondering can be traced back to not knowing. Not understanding the paralyzing and imprisoning effect of loving someone. Not being burdened with the responsibility of making ‘love’ a verb…a real verb…even if the action is not fun.

And tonight I say thank goodness for that.

More wine!

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