Photo by Philippe Cheng. On our wedding day - December 18, 2004.
These days, I find myself thinking about a lot of things. One of these things is marriage. I think this is because I am a married woman and the topic matters to me. But I think it's also because I am witnessing the conspicuous crumbling of certain marriages and the more subtle slipping of others. I think I am also thinking so much about it because I am writing a book about three women, three friends, who are in their early thirties and are not married, but would perhaps like to be. Through these women, I find myself pondering the appeal of marriage as an institution, and considering what it is that separates a healthy union from a less-than-healthy one.
Truth be told, I don't know. I don't pretend to understand what makes certain relationships thrive and stand the test of time and others disintegrate slowly or swiftly. I do have ideas though. Ideas that have come from experience and observation and instinct.
One idea: Friendship. I think it's so important to be friends with your other half, to be able to sit and chat and laugh and cry and wonder about life together. To be able to go on fun adventures and confess things to each other. To be able to do all the light and dark and meaningful and silly things friends do.
Another idea: Respect. I think this is a biggie. We must not only respect what it is our partners do and stand for, but we must also respect ourselves within the context of the life and relationship we have fostered.
And another: Awareness. We live in a busy world where we are all juggling many responsibilities. We stumble through our days tethered to little devices, our heads full of to-do lists. We must make sure to look up, to lock eyes with the people in our lives, to maintain some awareness of the world around us and what is happening there. How else can we glimpse true health and true happiness?
I am so close to deleting this post because I really do not think I have any expertise on what makes a robust marriage. I do know, however, that I love my husband profoundly, that he is my best friend in the world, that I have deep respect for him and what he does in this home and outside of it, and that I am working hard to keep my head up and eyes open in an effort to be aware of his and our health and happiness as a couple.
I will post this not because I have anything revolutionary to say here, but because I think this is a hugely important topic. Many of us are or were married, happily or not. Many of us hope to be married for the first time or once again. Many of us are interested in these questions and ideas - and keenly, too - either because we are living them or writing them. They are, after all, important questions and ideas, no?
P.S. Oh, and attraction/sex is important too. Of course. I am not going to write about that here, but you can! And, rest assured, there will be plenty of that spicy stuff in my book.
Do you have any specific or general thoughts on what makes for a "good marriage"? Do you have positive or negative examples of marriage in your life? Is there anything about marriage that has surprised you? Disappointed you? Delighted you? If you could tell your kids or future kids (or past self) one true thing about marriage, what would it be?