This past weekend I attended one of my best friend’s bridal showers. It was filled with her family and friends and we ate yummy food, drank mimosas and generally behaved like Ladies Who Lunch. Ladies Who Lunch wear pearls and talk about travel plans and tell sweet stories about mutual friends who are having babies, getting promotions or getting married. You ask questions about The Dress (the wedding dress) and everyone must ask the bride at least once if she is getting nervous. I can assure you my friend is not getting nervous (in case you were wondering) but I think she (and the rest of us) are getting pretty excited about her upcoming wedding day. You can’t help but get excited as this kind of happiness is contagious and you just want to be a part of it.
At the shower we all filled out recipe cards, one with a cooking recipe to share and another with marriage advice. Marriage is a tricky thing, which of course means the advice you give about it even stickier. I remember how my friend Katie got married the year before me, and in the months leading up to my wedding she kept telling me that marriage was hard but worth it.
Hard? I kind of laughed, I mean, life is hard (we all have our struggles) and this was the man I was in love with. I brushed her words off to the side.
Then I got married and spent a blissed out week on my honeymoon where I continued to laugh (hard? drinking wine with the person you love is not hard) at the advice given to me by so many; that marriage is hard but worth it. And…then I came home.
Turns out, marriage is hard. And, conversely, very much worth it.
There is something final about marriage, when you argue you know deep down in the back of your head you can’t storm out and go back to your house where your roommates and your ugly but so comfy pajamas are waiting. You have to face the disagreement head on, power through it, make it to the other side. You can’t ignore things like you did with your roommates either, there is no shrugging your shoulders and leaving your juice glass on the counter to congeal because you just don’t care if it annoys your friend, she can get over it. In marriage you have to care, even if you are only acknowledging that XYZ bothers your significant other so you have to make an effort. You can’t just plan on moving in with someone else when the lease ends, there is no expiration date so when you don’t agree on the division of labor, what to have for dinner, or whose wedding to attend with your precious few days of vacation, you have to work through it. You have to learn to fight and disagree with kindness and empathy and without saying things like “I HATE YOU” which might have worked when you were in college bickering with your boyfriend but doesn’t fly now.
In short, you have to put someone’s needs before your own, or at least on par with your own, while they do the same.
Somehow, if you both push forward with good intentions, it falls into place. Yes, sometimes B ends up eating chicken caeser salad for dinner (he hates caeser dressing) and sometimes I watch hockey (not even the Red Wings!) when Grey’s Anatomy is on. I learned to scrub shirt collars (what is up with that?) and B learned how to hand wash china and polish silver. We’ve mastered the art of combining two calendars- and how to gracefully deal with those nights where we are invited to do things on opposite ends of the spectrum and city.
No, marriage isn’t easy. It is an invisible third thing that lives with you, and you have to pay attention to it and nuture it or else you come home and realize it has shriveled up like a forgotten potted plant, and it takes a lot of date nights to bring it back to life. B and I have found our sweet spot of happiness, with regular Friday night date nights and Saturday morning trips to Starbucks and the dog park. Where we turn of the television on a Tuesday night and open a bottle of wine and both hover around the kitchen and cook dinner and talk about nothing and everything all at once while the dog hovers at our feet praying we drop some cheese.
The advice on the recipe cards at the shower ranged from hilarious (always argue naked) to practical (keep the bar stocked with both of your favorites) to mine, which was simple and eerily reminiscent of all the marriage advice I’d been given and casually rolled my eyes at…. marriage takes a lot of work, but the end result is worth it.