I spent this morning taking photos of our house to create a blog section about our for-sale condo. I’ll put that up soon, but something else sparked me today.
Last night I spoke to a very dear childhood friend, whose wedding I was in three years ago, and whose marriage is now ending. It is not my story to tell, so I’ll refrain from divulging the details (much of which I don’t know), but talking to her really got me thinking.
As an American girl in her 20’s, many of the people in my age group are single but looking for a relationship, in a relationship but looking for an engagement, engaged and planning a wedding, or married and thinking about babies. I even have a few friends who have had babies on purpose which really blows my everloving mind.
I’m in the mix there too; DJ and I are talking marriage. Again, there is a whole back-story and no, I don’t know why we aren’t engaged yet but I just keep telling myself that I don’t want to pressure him, it will happen when it happens, and I should just focus on enjoying the here and now. Eventually I’ll write a post about how we got to this point.
In the mean time though, my conversation with the childhood friend last night got me thinking once again about marriage. Although I both parts look forward to, and dread, planning our wedding, I know that the wedding part is easy; the marriage part takes work. Unending amounts of work. And an ability to put someone else’s needs before yours, compromise, disagree without damaging the relationship; and a million other things that I can’t even fathom right now.
My biggest fear about getting married has nothing to do with DJ. He’s a fantastic person and we agree on most subjects (not that that is a requirement of any marriage). We communicate well, and the only discussion (not fight, we don’t raise voices and always end it harmoniously) we continually have is where to get married. Rough, huh? I could go on endlessly about how lucky I am to have found someone who accepts me for who I totally am as a whole, from the stinky farts to the penchant for using three Tupperwares to take assorted lunch items to work.
It’s impossible to insure yourself against divorce. I think all the premarital counseling in the world can’t prepare you for what happens when one of you is diagnosed with a terminal disease, develops an addiction and refuses help, etc. Instead of playing the “what if” game, I’ve spent a lot of time recognizing how DJ and I both respond to stress individually and as a team. We do pretty well, with a lot of communication.
So my fears about getting married, and I think I’d be a fool not to acknowledge them, totally revolve around me. I’m terrified that I’ll let DJ down and cause hurt to someone I hold so dear. I worry that my stubbornness, independent nature and opinionated mouth will somehow lead me astray. DJ and I have talked through both of our career and family ambitions and have agreed to always support each other in what the person wants to try to achieve. I’m not worried about him holding me back. Instead though, I guess maybe I’m afraid of holding myself back in order to not rock the boat.
Somehow I stumbled across an article Kristin Armstrong wrote in Glamour magazine in 2006. It’s a great read for any female, and I strongly recommend it for dudes on the marriage track too. Kristin talks a lot about how small actions by her slowly eroded her sense of self. You can find it here: www.glamour.com/sex-love-life/2006/07/kristin-armstrong
My mom also gave me some really great advice a couple of years ago, which I pass on to friends regularly: the only person in your life who can always make you happy is you. Through your decisions, people you surround yourself with and actions to take. I think her advice is very true, and a good reminder that it takes two to tango. For example, DJ couldn’t know that I’ve got a strong desire to go to Rome soon if I don’t tell him. I couldn’t know that it annoys the hell out of him that I rarely start the dishwasher if he doesn’t tell me. I strive very hard to always tell DJ if something is bothering me rather than let little annoyances boil over into a torrent of incoherent gripes.
I now have two friends, out of about ten who have divorced. One lasted two and a half years, the other three. I also have three friends currently engaged, and a whole host of others anticipating getting engaged every time their boyfriend goes down on one knee to tie his shoe. If half of American marriages end, who of the remaining eight won’t make it? Why? Will it be a succession of little causes or an insurmountable issue?
I can’t say I’m sad about my friends who divorced; sad isn’t the right word. I wish they'd been able to avoid the circumstance all together, mainly by not continuing to date or marry their now ex-husbands. For both of them I try to be there as best I could to help them get through the agonizing pain of ending a marriage (thankfully, neither had kids). Although I want to tell them both that I think they made the right decision, it is not fair for me to transpose my opinion onto their personal heartbreak. I try to tell them that I’m proud of them for taking the necessary steps to make themselves happier. I think it takes guts to totally shake up your life, in hopes the aftermath will be better than the explosion.
In the meantime, I keep talking to DJ about finances, kids, disciplining children, family relations, etc. in order to try to cover my bases. Can you guys think about a subject I might have missed?