Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What is it like to be married?

[Photo taken at L. Woods Tap and Pine Lodge.]

It seems to me that married people often hedge when asked what being married is like. They say things like "marriage takes work," and "every marriage is different." When I was single, this answer made me think, "Yeah, yeah, all marriages are different. Spill the beans about yours."

On this Valentine's Day, I will now spill the beans about mine. I'll celebrate my fourth year of being a wife on March 25th.

How is marriage bad? (I answer only for myself)
1. Unemployment used to feel like a carefree time for me. As a wife, unemployment makes me feel like a drag on my husband. During the time I was married and unemployed, in 2008, I felt miserably guilty all the time, Bob felt tense, and our marriage was stressed.

2. Depression has a greater impact on me as a wife than it had on me as a spinster. During my bleak depressed, single years, I thought my depression would be alleviated by a romantic relationship. Wrong! Now when the depression takes over, I drag down someone else, too, and our marriage becomes strained. On top of feeling depressed, I feel guilty for not being the woman Bob married. Depression is definitely more stressful for me as a wife. At least when I was alone, I wasn't immediately impacting someone else who had no way to get away from me.

3. Not having my husband's support is far lonelier than being single. I thought fighting depression by myself was hard, but it's even more painful when the person who means the most to me isn't trying to understand what I'm going through.

4. I can no longer have parties at my whim or invite friends over for hours of chatting, without checking with my husband first. But his restaurant work schedule means he's rarely home on weekends, so it mostly works out.

5. The freedom to do as I will with what I earn is gone. Bob and I pool our incomes and spend our money together. I benefit because he earns considerably more than I do, but it comes with the price of having to agree on large purchases. I don't really want to spend $2,000 on a personal trainer who comes to my home, but I miss having the freedom to do so, without anyone being the wiser.

How is marriage good? (I answer only for myself)
1. Bob's love and support give me more solid grounding from which to heal my emotional wounds and psyche. This has had a huge impact on my progress on my personal issues and I am very grateful for it.

2. My husband is a very funny guy who makes me laugh. For a chronically depressive intellectual with a very specific sense of humor, a former class clown husband is invaluable.

3. In Bob, I have a life partner who will never indulge my desire to discuss "boring things." This is frustrating for me when I'm in the mood to talk about, for example, how self-destructive human nature is, but ultimately it's good for me. It's easy for me to spend too much attention on that stuff.

4. Bob's income allows me to do what I need to do for myself. I'll probably never match his earnings, but that's okay. It's fun to have access to it and save piles of it for rainy days (because nothing lasts forever).

5. Getting married gave me a mother-in-law. I've heard the stereotypes about women who believe their son's wife isn't good enough for him or who try to get in between the son and the wife or who won't mind their own business. I guess I got lucky because I enjoy my mother-in-law. She's an extremely nice person who really cared about me from the beginning just because I married her son. I can email her about any tiny thing that happens in our household and she's not only riveted, but replies promptly. This is great because I love writing about little stuff (as my blog readers know) and I love getting emails. Our email frequency has even increased since we got our dog because she loves dogs.

6. I'm in a relationship, but still have plenty of space. Bob matches me very well because he's fine with all the time I spend with friends, at the gym and reading (and blogging). We also have a big apartment with our own rooms. I don't want to be in a couple who spends every minute of every weekend together, and neither does Bob. I don't need to have dinner with my husband every night. We don't always travel together. This is a marriage with plenty of space and that works very well for me.

7. I'm happier. I just am. I don't attribute that solely to the marriage because I've also worked hard to achieve my own happiness, but happiness seems easier for me to attain inside this relationship. When I think of my past black depressions, I'm amazed to realize that this kind of daily contentedness is typical for many people, and finally here I am. Who knows how long it will last, but I'm hugely grateful for it today.

I will now take questions.

[Also see What is it like to be married, part two]


Mick said...

I was always happy with single life and had settled into that, was convinced i'd always be single because i thought it suited me.

Think I've changed in recent years, my last two serious relationships (Jane & Paula) have changed me a lot. Think Jane was the first time I really loved someone, and when she passed away didn't expect to find anyone else. Paula as taught me I can love again and I really need somebody.

Regina Rodríguez-Martin said...

Mick, is needing somebody good news or bad news for you? I can see it going either way.

Mick said...

not sure its either just a change of attitude as i've got older.

During my time single never thought i was one for falling in love, two ladies have taught me I can. Think that is part of the reason i've changed, just hard to really explain.

Regina Rodríguez-Martin said...

I'm getting this question, so I'll answer it here: yes, Bob approved this post. I don't post anything about him without reading it to him first. I'm very grateful that he's never turned anything down.

Mick said...

Pleased Bob approves, not only is these sort of posts a interesting read it gives me food for thought about my own situation.
I'm actually a deep thinker and are often told I over analyse things, can't help it but I do.

Rudy Giuliani said...

I'm happy to hear that you've found happiness in your marriage. Fiercely independent in my 20's and younger 30's, I liked dating and wanted no part of marriage. I don't necessarily regret that stance but I certainly feel like being single is not as attractive / fun as it used to be. I hope I can find somebody like you were able to do. Maybe. Possibly. Seems doubtful. Anyway, best of luck to you and your family!