Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Marriage

I was thinking hard today, and I think I have finally come up with a way to describe what marriage is like to all the single people out there.

You see, the questions I got asked a few hundred times shortly after I got married was “So how’s married life?”, “Do you feel any different?” and “What’s it like being married?”

Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as that.

You see, I didn’t feel different after my wedding. The way I looked at it was that I actually made the commitment when I asked Sunny to marry me and she said yes. The actual wedding day, as much fun as it was, was only really ‘the paperwork’.

Married life is difficult to explain. You see, other than the fact that your new missus has taken your surname (and that’s only if she chooses to), nothing’s really that different from the day before you where married.

My cousin tried to explain it to me just after he got married, and he said “It’s like when you’re just going out with a girl, only she doesn’t go home at the end of the day.”

That’s close, but not exactly right.

Here’s how I explain being married.

It’s like there’s a sudden coup, and the government is overthrown.

Huh?

You see, before you’re married you’re the supreme ruler and dictator of your own life.

It’s something you don’t really appreciate when you’re single, but you’re the complete master of your own destiny, only have to think about yourself, and don’t have to justify your actions to anyone else.

You earn your money, you pay your bills, and if you decide to spend what’s left over on an over-sized stuffed purple aardvark, who’s to argue? If you want to spend an entire weekend living on your couch, eating chips and drinking beer it’s up to you. If you suddenly decide to go on vacation the only thing stopping you is if you can afford it and get the time off work.

When you’re married, things change slightly. You go from being supreme dictator, to a member of a two person committee, and every decision must be cleared by both parties.

Now I have to be clear that this isn’t a woman bashing post, I’m not saying “Get married and your woman controls your life.” It works both ways.

Every, and I mean every, decision must go through your spouse first. I mean, you can be an inconsiderate prick if you like, but if you actually care for your partner, every decision is tinged with how it will effect them.

I don’t mean you’re constantly saying things like “I have to go to the bathroom now, is that ok with you.” But you have to consider how each and every one of your actions will affect your partner.

For example, you’re in bed, and you’re a little warm. What do you do? If you’re single you throw off the covers. If you’re married, you can’t just do that because the missus might be cold.

I love spicy food, but I don’t cook it that often any more because Sunny can’t handle it.

You get a bonus in your paycheck, do you spend it on whatever you want, buy something both you and your partner will like or put it back because the missus has something she wants to buy?

Now, many people think that just living with someone is just like being married.

Well…it’s not.

You see, when you’re in a relationship, you have your stuff, your partner has his or her stuff, and you have the stuff you bought together. You still earn your money, they earn their money, and you decide to share it.

When you’re married, you do the same thing, only you’ve signed a legal document to say that you’re going to share everything. Everything you own legally belongs to the other person as well. See that paycheck? See that air-hockey table you got for Christmas when you where 12? That legally belongs to your spouse just as much as it belongs to you.

In short, in a relationship you both decide to share everything, but it’s on the honor system. When you get married, it’s (shudder) legal.

Above all, when you’re just living together, the ‘back door’ is left open, even if it’s the furthest thing from your mind, you know, deep down, that you can just up and leave if you feel like it. Marriage makes the commitment much deeper.

Now, I know I’m sounding like I’m really down on marriage, but the good stuff really does outweigh the bad.

You see, despite the fact you have to put the other person first in pretty much everything you do…the other person is doing exactly the same. While you’re missing out on a few things to keep the other happy, they’re doing the same. It’s a great feeling.

If you don’t like my government analogy, here’s another one that might make a little more sense.

When you’re single, it’s like you own a car. Not a very fast car, or a very luxurious car. It’s your bog standard car, and gets you from A to B.

Basically, you own a Ford Escort.

When you decide to get married, you sell your Escort and buy a something really nice like a Cadillac, but you don’t buy it just for yourself. You buy the Cadillac, but someone else is providing 50% of the cost of the car, and both your names are on the lease.

Basically, you get something that you can never have on your own, and you absolutely love it. Life is great. The only difference is you can’t actually drive your new Cadillac without the other person being in it, and you both have to decide where to go.

4 comments:

OzzyC said...

Expounding on the Cadillac analogy...

You steer, but she's got the gas and the brakes.

Racer from MD, USA said...

or if you car breaks down, she will give a free ride.

Marriage is a security blanket - physical, financial, emotional.

Gender plays a big role too.. the best comment I heard so far is that the husband is running/ climbing the mountain to reach higher and higher and the wife is prepared to feed the husband when he is tired and hungry, rejuvinates and motivates him so that he can climb higher next time.
(no judgement, no complains just a good old friend).

Anonymous said...

Must admit I don't much like the running/climbing a mountain anology. I would more say it's like two people climbing a mountain - working as a team, providing support & encouragement to each other. A partnership, reaching higher & higher together.

Racer from MD, USA said...

I kind of agree with 'anonymous'; if the wife is on her way to climb the mountains to reach higher and higher , then husband should be prepared to feed the wife; when she is tired and hungry, the husband rejuvinates and motivates her.

But there is one basic nature that women have and that is nurturing, instinct to love and raise kids emotionally. No mater, how much you love your women, when they have kids the wife changes and her role does change. Men are not made to feed and raise kids. I have yet to see husband taking primary responsibilites in raising the kids. The man is generally extrovert and primarily plays a role of providing physical and financial security. or am I too retro?

Living just as a couple is much easier then raising a family and making a family active part of the community. We all get much more satisfied when we belong to a family and have a group living together.

Intially I used to think keeping wife happy with food, shelter and love will be enough but after more than 15 years of marriage and three kids, I feel our roles have changed and our life pretty much roles around our kids... may be that will change once kids are grown up.

Dating, dancing and partying can go only so far... marriage is hard but it also makes you more human and more valuable citizen of the world, I believe.