So here is part II in my series on marriage and why it can be an utter bitch, despite all the perks and lovely things that comes with being Mr and Mrs, or Mr. and Mr, or Mrs. and Mrs.
They’re so cute. They poop in their pants. They call you Mommy or Daddy, or Mom or Dad, but these tiny pint-sized people suck the living hell out of a relationship.
It’s not exactly the child/children’s fault, but once you start raising kids together, your dynamic changes. In a heterosexual relationship, a man may view the woman in a maternal role…sometimes forgetting that, “Hey pal, I like to feel sexy too, and not sexy while you’re scratching your balls during a TV show.”
The time you once had with your spouse only dwindles as you collect, I mean, reproduce more children. Suddenly you have forgotten who the hell the person you married actually happens to be. You don’t talk about a lot, unless it happens to be about the kids…or you both make a great effort to keep the couple part of your family alive.
Kids interrupt sleep and sex. They cost money. They rarely work unless you send them to a real hard-working nation like China or India, and sometimes, they even want to come into the bathroom with you.
Make that more than sometimes. Make that all the time.
As much as you both want kids, you may have different views about how to raise them. One of you may be too lax for the other, while the other may be viewed as too stern. It seems that as kids get older, good parents, in my experience, seem to work out the kinks of discipline/rearing methods, yet it is a work in progress. With each new stage of life, a child brings new challenges and joys to the table. It takes work to negotiate these with a partner.
It’s not all hunky-dory, “look at me and my family…we love each other so much” type of stuff…it has down days, rough patches, and nasty snarls.
How the in-laws on both sides handle or don’t handle the grandchildren is also a big debate at times between a couple. Granny or Pop-Pop may have very old-fashioned viewpoints that might really clash with your wife’s theory on attachment parenting, or maybe one side of the family is incredibly lenient, while the other is tough as nails. A child becomes topic for the whole family to discuss in many ways: how the child is parented (good or bad?), how the child behaves, and who the child innately is at heart.
Children bring on stress. Prepare to be stressed in some ways once a baby enters into the picture. Work at your marriage and communicate, but even more so, listen.
MONEY, MONEY, MONEY, MONEY….MOOOONEY!
Who makes it, who spends it, who doesn’t make it, and who spends it on what is the dialogue you will be engaged in for forever upon “I do.”
It should be, I do agree to fight fairly about money for the rest of our damned lives.
People fight about mothers staying home or not staying home.
People fight about what constitutes real “work.” Some will say domestic chores and rearing children doesn’t count. Others will say it does. Some will see part-time work is substantial, and others will not.
People fight about how much money should be saved and if it’s not saved, what to put it towards. Do you save for a vacation, or put that extra few bucks in the kids’ college funds?
Money is about as unsexy as a camel toe, a hairy bush, or nasty breath. It can’t buy you love other than the sexual kind, but it can certainly divide and conquer a marriage faster than you can say, “JohnJacobJingleHeimerSchmidt.”
The other questions that will come up during your term as a married individual are, retirement, day care, investments,and vacations. How much to work in order to gain said money? How much to not work in order to avoid missing out on family time just for a few extra bucks? How to balance finances, yet still have time to actually enjoy the family you made rather than work like you’re in a sweatshop.
From “I” to “We”:
Apparently according to some fancy schmanzy theorists on marriage, it takes time and a few years for couples to really grow from “I” to “We.” Essentially, marriage is leaving your primary family and forming a new, more primary family than the one you came from. Sure, you are still part of your birth family so to speak, but the one you make with your spouse is the one that truly shapes your outlook, daily life, and goals. Cutting the cords from that birth family is not always that easy…even if you don’t notice this yourself. You enter into a partnership with someone from a different background or even a similar one, and suddenly the ways in which you did things with your parents etc, may not be how you are doing those things now. Now your spouse and his or her family has ideas about how something might be approached….your holidays are split or shared…your time with your birth family is now shared.
Your spouse will have interests that you could give two craps about, and you will have hobbies or friends that he or she thinks is basically intended for Chimps. You will try to keep your identity, life, and friends, and so will she or he. Somehow you have to keep your own identity as a person intact, yet recognize that all decisions and choices are made with the other person in mind.
It’s the ultimate act of unselfishness, and it’s hard.
Whoever says it isn’t, is either on crack, lying, or a total saint, especially in the American culture in which we truly value and worship the individual.
Marriage looks nice and easy when you’re watching a couple “live” it out on a television show or in a movie, but you better believe that it doesn’t matter if you love your spouse more than life itself as you will still be challenged during a marriage.
Be prepared to work hard, and possibly fail. That 50% divorce rate exists. It’s scary and shitty, and just a sign of how marriage and the institution itself is in jeopardy.
Personally, I see value in marriage, but I also see value in not marrying. It is an institution, and it is work. People grow and morph, and really, we are one of the few in the animal kingdom with this type of monogamous relationship. It is bound to be a challenge because despite our ability to reason and have common sense, it still is unique to all other creatures. Clearly despite our so-called ability to think, we still struggle with love and partnership.
It’s the reason why we have marriage therapists, porn shops, support groups, and lawyers.
It’s the reason we have children and family.
We humans are a rotten, loving, and complicated bunch.
All we can do is work at being better than we were yesterday, which probably wasn’t good enough anyway.