How’s Married Life?

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Why does it sound like a loaded question? What are they expecting us to say?

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How’s married life?

It’s the question I get the most now that I’m back in school—four times more often than “What classes do you have?” and twice as much as “How was your summer?”

My summer was eventful: I got married, moved into a new apartment, started a new job, landed an internship, finished two online classes, and spent four weeks in Israel and the West Bank.

I’m not lying when I tell people I had a great summer.

Their question about married life always feels loaded, though—it’s not as simple as reciting my course schedule and flashing a smile. How’s married life? I’m never sure what to tell people. Something witty? “Well, we don’t hate each other yet.” “It’s not perfect, but it’s somewhere in that ballpark.”

♦◊♦

I have struggled to answer the question. I’m not comfortable giving someone a generic answer—I always find myself digging deep into the recesses of my month-old marriage to furnish something more honest and real.

Because some nights, we fall asleep facing opposite walls. Some mornings, there is still distance between us when I leave for work. Some days, we go hours without texting, and we barely exchange words when we see each other again. There are days of dissonance and hours of silence. She has bawled into her pillow. I have retreated to the rooftop.

I wouldn’t call our marriage unhealthy—Gabrielle and I are learning to communicate with each other. We are wrestling with our oneness. Even little things, like using we instead of I or our in place of my, have seismically shifted the way I see my wife and myself. It is no longer her and me—it is us. We have become intertwined. We share everything from a refrigerator and a bathroom to bank accounts and a bed.

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But I am still hung up somewhere between me and us. She is, too. Marriage is the melding of two people into a single thing—and we are trying to determine what to hold onto and what to let loose as we lose ourselves in each other.

So, how’s married life? Well, it’s not easy—but I didn’t expect it to be a walk in Central Park when I proposed. It’s like a dance (brace yourself): we are hand-in-hand, twirling through life, stepping on each other’s toes, tripping and stumbling, only because we have not been partners for very long. But we’ll get the hang of it, and we’ll stop bruising each other so much, and I’ll learn to lift her without dropping her, and she’ll trust me to hold her, and our dance will steal the spotlight more often than it won’t.

Married life, then, is as it should be: a crash course in humility and an endless lesson in loving well. Tomorrow, we’ll be closer and more comfortable—and more vulnerable because of that comfort. And every ounce of whatever pain is on our horizon will have been worth it. And we’ll be more one than two.

Or something like that.

 

Photo by chinogypsie/Flickr

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About Taylor Campbell

Taylor Campbell didn’t say a word for the first two years of his life. According to every member of his family (and a few childhood neighbors), he’s been playing catch up ever since.
A year shy of twenty, he resides in Brooklyn with his better half and studies politics, philosophy, and economics at a liberal arts college on Wall Street. He loves rain, rhythm, Forrest Gump, empty subway cars, and the squeal of callouses against guitar strings.

Comments

  1. I love reading these Taylor. I hope we get to meet Gabrielle sometime.

  2. When I read the title my heart sank a little – it was my first reaction because the average discussion about such a topic is usually with a good dose of pessimism and struggle. I agree – why does it have to be such a loaded question? I just don’t get it. After 10 years together, my spouse and I feel our life is better for having one another in it. Its that simple. If we didn’t feel that way, we wouldn’t be together. However, in my experience its really important to not strive to be one but to complement and support each other’s endeavours and outlook on the world. And to strive to love and understand each other because we are all different but should all be equally validated (or held to account).

    • This was what my dance instructor said once about partner dancing, which I think applies to relationships perfectly:
      you are in love with each other
      and you are in love together with the music
      but individually, you are each in love with the floor, on your own

  3. Do you every feel like it would be somehow bad or wrong to say, “It’s wonderful! I love it!”, if that was really how it was? Like we are somehow supposed to be miserable since that’s what all the jokes are about?

  4. I agree, the question has an implied smirk and assumption that there must be something negative to say.
    With people like this, they deserve a nutty, off-the-wall answer.

    Any ideas out there?

  5. I ask the question, knowing that my own is a disaster. But not knowing if theirs is any different. I’m not miserable because jokes about marriage tell me that’s how it is. It has more to do with hearing the jokes, ignoring them thinking we’d be different and then finding out we’re not.

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