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