When my friend Tammy, editor of The Mudroom blog, asked me to write about my marriage, I had to track down my spouse in northern Uganda and wait for him to find wifi. The key to a healthy marriage: don’t air your junk on the internet without prior approval. I sent him what I was working on and several days later after he and our daughter spent time in the community with which we partner, he accessed his email and gave the green light.
Writing about marriage is hard, because everybody’s marriage is different, and what we’re learning is that it doesn’t have to look like anybody else’s. But in an effort to give other people the freedom that we’re learning over the years, here’s what I wrote:
I think my picture of what marriage would look like was some combination of my parents’ marriage and every 1990’s rom-com I’d ever seen. We’d have clear his-and-hers roles based on how my parents did everything, because hey, it’s still working for them, and we’d cuddle every night and fall asleep with our arms and legs all intertwined under the big comforter and never have morning breath.
It was pretty soon after we got married that my mental pic started to unravel. Apparently we had one minor difference with all my poster marriages: our entire personalities. The first time my car needed to go into the shop, I looked at Alex like, “You best get on that,” and he looked at me like, “It’s your car, so . . ” With consternation I drove to the car fixer place and learned how to grownup. Apparently I was not living in my parents’ marriage. As for the rom-coms, I quickly discovered that cuddling at night was like strapping myself to a hairy furnace and I started erecting a large pillow blockade to protect myself from the wall of heat. I wear a bite guard in my mouth that smells like zombie flesh and the first morning I went to kiss him he had to fight the urge to throw up.
From the beginning, our marriage didn’t really look like the other ones we saw.