People would like to believe that once you find “The One” relationships stop being hard, but Mandy Brasher is here to remind us that’s not how life really works.
When I began writing about my marriage a few years ago, I noticed a common theme when it came to folks commenting on my articles “If marriage is that much work, you obviously married the wrong person.” Initially it irritated me and I wanted to justify my relationship. I wanted to make complete strangers and internet trolls realize that my husband and I were great together and that my opinion was completely justified. Now I realize that readers were upset by the fact that I used the words ‘work’ and ‘marriage’ in the same sentence. Obviously there are a lot of people with a mind numbing aversion to both.
Most of the topics I write about when it comes to love and marriage hinge on the idea that it’s really fucking hard to stay married, but worth the effort in the long run. There are issues to be dealt with, arguments to have, and times when I want to leave my husband, drive to Florida and enroll in Clown College. Yes, there are moments when I fantasize about leaving my relationship. Probably because I married the wrong person, right? I don’t think so, but I’ve only been married to my husband for 14 years, so I’m no expert. Perhaps there are magical unions in the world where each spouse feels heard, they adore one another every minute of every day, and both partners agree completely on how to raise kids and spend money. But I doubt it. Like most relationships in our lives, marriage is work. You can be mad about that and claim that I’m insane or that I’m married to the wrong person, but it doesn’t stop it from being true. Long term relationships, marriage or otherwise, take work.
People don’t like the word ‘work’ because it refers to that place we are forced to go every day where our boss doesn’t appreciate us, we do menial tasks, and we spend hours in a cubicle next to that asshole who bathes in Axe body spray. Work can be a nightmare, it can feel overwhelming. Feel free to call whatever you do in your marriage something else, but in my life, marriage is work. My husband does drive me crazy, he smells weird sometimes, we have differing opinions on spanking our kids, and we don’t agree on sandwich spread. He’s a salad dressing guy and I’m partial to mayonnaise. If you talk to couples who have been married for 20, 30, even 50 years (which I have, so just relax little trolls), the majority will tell you that it has been work, there has been sacrifice, and they have cried a few tears along the way. And I don’t think that is because they married the wrong person. It’s probably due to fact that living, working, paying bills, raising children, buying houses, fixing water leaks, and having sex with the same person for years on end is not easy. It’s not year after year of seeing eye to eye or appreciating one another completely. It’s work. There are days when it’s amazing work, the kind of work we all love to do when we punch that time clock and there are days that are hard work, emotionally taxing work and we aren’t sure how we will make it through.
When my husband and I bought a new house a few years ago, we were floating at the peak of marital bliss. We agreed on everything, worked as a team to get our family moved and situated, had a comfortable savings, and our kids were happy and healthy. We were living the dream. Like most things in life, both good and bad, this too shall pass. When it did, we had a vehicle break down, I began a new non-paying career, and our son stopped sleeping through the night. There were arguments, crying, and some awkwardly silent dinners around the kitchen table. The other part of our marital work had begun. This was the part where we negotiated and argued and attempted to find common ground in order to get back on track. Did we have we have to work at it because I married the wrong person? No and that really doesn’t matter at this point. I’m married and I have zero desire to marry anyone else, I like my husband quite a bit. I’m not convinced that there is one single person on the planet with whom I could be married to where the relationship wouldn’t include a little bit of work. Honestly, I like work…in all it’s forms. The rewards of hard work are validating and confirm my abilities, in both my marriage and in other areas of my life. When my husband and I emerge from challenges in our marriage intact, both of us able to laugh and move forward, the work is validated.
As a 21 year old woman standing at an altar, saying yes to decades with one person, I didn’t have a clue what being married would be like or what the future held for us, I hadn’t been there yet. But I’m here and I hate to break it to ya, but it is work. We aren’t “perfect” for each other because that’s a fucking fairy tale. We are willing to work, willing to move forward, and willing to acknowledge that our life together isn’t some romantic comedy filmed in Hawaii. (Maybe I’ll run away to Hawaii.) We aren’t living on a movie set; we are living in suburbia with jobs and kids and a dog that shits on the carpet once in a while. That is real married life and it is work. Not because you married the wrong person, but because it’s a relationship with another human being and those aren’t meant to be easy. If work scares you, don’t get married. I also wish you the best of luck finding a job, raising kids, mowing your lawn, or accomplishing anything substantial in your life. It’s all work.