No. Really. The real reason. Not the one we keep hearing about. We should talk instead about the one we actually know is true.
Why did I marry?
It’s a simple question, at least on the surface. I think it’s an important question. Cultural pressures and influences and norms aside, it’s a good question to ask yourself if you’re already married, thinking about getting married, and maybe even if you’re considering getting divorced.
Had you asked me up until right before I wrote this, I’m not sure I would have had an appropriate answer. I probably would have said, “Because I love her,” “Because I just knew,” or some other ill-defined, non-specific reason.
Answers like those are not enough, though. They’re never enough. Not really. Marriage is more important than that. More mature.
Naturally, I asked my wife why she married me. I wanted reasons. So she answered. And here are the eleven reasons she gave me, unedited:
Your utter awesomeness
Your passion for your work/writing
You’re passionate towards me
You’re worldly – you’ve been to places that I’ve only dreamed of
You are dorky sometimes/funny
You’re hot tempered/fire-y – It’s a turn on sometimes. SOMETIMES
You’re a sexy Puerto Rican Jew
You can cook
My wife tends to be more specific than I am, and her list was no different. After reading it, I had a few questions, but I didn’t want her to explain. I wanted to analyze her responses to see if they made sense to me. I wondered why she’d listed 11; didn’t she think 10 was probably a good enough number? Regardless, her list made me smile.
It made me smile because a lot of what’s in her list happens to coincide with the view I have of myself, however narcissistic, however vain. Of course, I don’t know what “utter awesomeness” means. But when I read it I thought, Yea, that’s what I want to be. I want to be awesome. Awesome doesn’t suck.
It makes me feel good that she thinks that. It fortifies my belief that I have someone who gets me, someone unquestionably on my team. I have low days, days that I feel anything but awesome. Days when I question what the hell I’m doing with my life, chasing impractical dreams, letting other—perhaps more necessary things—fall to the wayside. It makes me feel that she gets me, that in chasing windmills she sees not a bumbling wannabe but an optimistic pursuer of success. And that feels good. It feels really good.
One of the things I noticed is that nowhere in my wife’s list does she mention “love.”
She mentions passion and sincerity, honesty, and a few other attributes that contribute to who I am, but never anything as clear cut as “love” or “like” or any of those trite catchwords you normally associate with reasons to marry. I’ll admit, I found not seeing “love” as a reason a little peculiar, but I took—I take—solace in the fact that it’s there in between those other reasons, wedged snugly between numbers 1 and 2, 3 and 4.
See, when she wrote the list up for why she married me, love was a given. My wife, in her list, was simply telling me that these eleven things were the reasons she’d fallen in love with me, the reason she agreed to take my hand in marriage.
Our ceremony was not a lavish affair but a rather small, simple one. It wasn’t about throwing a party for our friends and family, but a gesture to each other, an observance of the union we already shared and would share for the rest of our lives. It’s a union of love and humor, compassion and understanding.
In number 7 she calls me “dorky”. Number 10 says I can cook. She’s got a sense of humor, my wife. But on both counts she also happens to be right. I can and will be a dork all my life, and damn if I can’t make a heck of a seafood paella.
I don’t know if my wife stopped listing reasons because she ran out of or because she figured she’d listed enough. I know I could give a lot more reasons for why I married her than eleven, but I won’t do it here. I’ll let her know in private, because some things between a husband and wife should be between just the two of them.
I am neither for nor against divorce, but in a world where the divorce rate per 1,000 hovers between 3 and 4 according to the CDC, I think it’s important to know why you married your spouse, and why he or she married you. If you’re having a rough patch, or if it’s gotten even a little worse than that, maybe working on those reasons will help calm the seas. Or maybe, in an ideal world, you wouldn’t have to try and remember them, because you already know them, because they’re right there in front of you every day of your life.
A lot of the underlying emotion I got from my wife’s list—both because she wrote it and because it’s an underlying motif in the list—is passion. You have to have that in a marriage. It doesn’t have to be there every day, magnified for the world to see, but it’s got to be there. I think that’s what I got from my list. I’m passionate, and I’m passionate about her.
Are you passionate about your spouse? Do you know why they married you? Let me know. I’d like to hear why. If you don’t know, just ask them to write up a quick list. Maybe they’ll give you an odd number, like my wife gave me. For some strange reason, I prefer it that way.
Photo by Wesley Dryden/Flickr