I was standing at the supermarket’s snack aisle when the answer hit me. For a moment, I was embraced with the unwavering certainty that tethering my life to the man who was trying to persuade me not to buy Oreos was the right decision.
To understand how I can love a man who tries to keep me from Oreos, we need to talk about my anxiety and abandonment issues.
I’m not proud to say that I carried a lot of baggage with me when I met my husband. Our time started after I survived a failed engagement. It was a beautiful affair turned warts-and-slimy-toads-ugly and I emerged emotionally scarred and terrified.
In the early days of our courtship, the smallest disagreement sent me into waves of panic. In fact, the first time he held my hand was while I was having an anxiety attack in his car because we were having a serious talk about our relationship. I thought he would run for the hills, but he ran towards me.
I was once abandoned at a train station in a foreign country with barely any money on me and then berated to tears in public for… well… I’m still not sure what I was berated for, but that incident explains my abandonment issues pretty well. I was also abandoned at a shopping mall by the same person and then berated to tears afterward. See the pattern? Understand the emotional scarring?
In all the disagreements my husband and I have had in the years we’ve been together, he has never run away from me. He would keep a tight grip on my hand while we talked through our issues. The furthest we’ve ever been apart during a disagreement is separate rooms in the same house, and that only lasted 10 minutes.
When we started, I was always convinced that we weren’t going to make it. I had been working hard on myself. After my failed relationship, I started exercising regularly, surrounded myself with new friends and influences, and repaired my strained relationship with my family. I built myself a solid support system and by God (and friends) I looked happy, healthy, and “Oh, you’re glowing!”.
But deep down I was still an emotional wreck barely floating on turbulent waters, just waiting and willing for jagged rocks to appear so I can finally stop the pretense of being “happy”. Until one day, a ship with black sails came along, tethered itself to me, and gently towed me back to calmer waters.
Two years into our courtship, we started talking about marriage. Part of me was petrified. I wasn’t sure if I could survive another failed engagement, but surely this was different? Marriage is the ultimate goal of all relationships, isn’t it? The voices of my Asian forefathers and centuries of matrimonial expectations told me it was true and yet we were not convinced.
So, we talked. For months we discussed why we wanted a marriage. For the legality of children? For legal protection of mutual property? To prove our love and commitment to each other?
That brings me to my profound moment of realisation at the supermarket, six months after we tied the knot.
I was holding a tube of Oreos in one hand and a knockoff brand in another, while my darling husband tried to talk me out of getting the Oreos. I had been standing at the snack aisle for a solid 10 minutes trying to decide on which tube to get. The poor man was almost at the end of his rope because of the cookie debate and I was feeling rushed.
At that moment I realised we were having a disagreement but I wasn’t feeling the slightest anxiety! I wasn’t worried he might judge me for whichever cookie choice I made. I wasn’t scared he might leave me because of said cookie choice. I knew whatever I chose, whatever I did, he would still run towards me. (Anxiety sucks)
That’s when I knew marriage was the right choice for me. Since we tied the knot, we’ve both felt much more secure in our relationship. We trust each other more. I feel like I can breathe easier.
Marriage might not be for you. It is a total commitment. Your families, responsibilities, and finances merge. Every decision you make from the moment you say “I Do” has to be for the benefit of both of you. An immense amount of coordination and communication is required for a healthy relationship.
In short, it is a lot of work and not everyone is able or willing to commit to it. It might sound like a cliche, but a marriage is not a walk in the park. It’s more like a team marathon over an infinite distance that you do for the rest of your life.
So, start with the right reasons. Don’t marry because societal expectations or the ghostly voices of your forefathers command it. Marry on your own terms. That way, no matter how the story ends, you’ll have no regrets.
(P.S. I chose the Oreo knockoffs. Still good, half the price.)
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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