So I've been married now for 13 years, 9 months, and five days. Not that anyone's counting or anything. After all this time and considerable effort, I think I've figured out the exact formula to having a perfect marriage.
You want to know what it is?
Are you sure you want to know? This knowledge I'm about to drop on you might blow your mind.
A perfect marriage doesn't exist. Stop being dumb.
Groundbreaking, right? I know.
I know everyone is shaking their head right now. Duh, Stephanie. Don't be stupid Stephanie. YOU'RE THE DUMB ONE STEPHANIE. Everyone knows it isn't perfect Stephanie. You can't write and you are fat and you don't know jack, Stephanie. Okay that last part is probably just some residual self-hate that I'm working on. Whatever.
Seriously though, I think people sometimes get this with their heads but maybe not their hearts. Like, I know my husband can't be perfect because he's a human being, but the movie I just watched says otherwise and I want that instead. Dammit.
I have had more of these moments than I care to admit. Like, some whole years of our marriage I was thinking, "What the heck have I gotten myself into?" That's not fun to admit, by the way, but the truth is often not fun. The truth is often hard work and day-to-day getting by. Sadness. Mortgage payments. Broken microwaves. Dinner (every day they want dinner, Jesus). Doctors appointments, car repairs, grocery shopping. Just...life.
The vacation photos and the selfies and the Instagram pictures and the stolen moments dancing in your sock feet in the kitchen aren't the whole story. Not even close.
The other night I was thinking about my husband snoring. I was thinking about this because he was, at that moment, snoring. Really loudly. Right in my face. He also talks in his sleep and sometimes sings in his sleep (yes, really). I think he is pathologically unable to put down the toilet seat in the downstairs bathroom. He is far too interested in the details of cleaning his car (and gives me far too many details about it as well). Sometimes he does this really creepy George W. Bush laugh (on purpose) and it literally makes me cringe. He is addicted to $5 coffee from Starbucks. He doesn't always appreciate how hilarious I am (but to be fair, no one really does). He's really not perfect, not even a little.
I thought about all this while he was snoring. In my face.
Then, I thought, "My God, what if he wasn't here?"
Really. What if he wasn't right here with me? What if I woke up tomorrow and he was gone? What if I had never met him back in 1999 and I ended up married to some really boring guy who thinks that the most important thing to talk about is who got voted off the Island last night and gave me disapproving looks when I baked bread and then sang to the bread, "Hello Carbness my Old Friend"? I cannot even imagine how sad I would be. I cannot.
I know so many people who have tried and tried and tried to make it work with someone and my heart just breaks for them. I know how hard it is to be the only one trying. I know how hard it is to be in a crap marriage. I was in one many years ago, and while I don't remember every crap thing that happened, I remember how bad it felt. I remember how uncertain and unsafe it felt. I remember thinking to myself that I will never, ever, ever let myself be in a situation again where I had to rely on another human being.
And yet, here I am. I don't rely on him financially, I guess. I could take care of myself if I needed to. I don't rely on him to keep the house clean or cook, but he does. I don't need him, but man do I ever want him around for the rest of my life.
There's no secret.
He's not my best friend. I've mentioned this before and often people react with shock and horror and dismay when I say this, but he's not. I think you could comfortably fart in front of your best friend. I do not fart in front of him. I don't know if that's the only distinction, but I'm just saying. I'm not going to do that. I'm always going to make an effort for him, as long as I am physically able to.
We don't do a lot of the same things. I run. I do Zumba. I write. I could very, very happily live on the side of a mountain and hike every single day (as long as I had internet). I avoid carbs. I worry too much. I sweat out my problems in therapy every week.
He doesn't run. He loves ice cream. He worries about very little. I can get him to hike, but only sometimes. He's a big believer in every little thing gonna be all right. He deals with things totally differently than I do, but it hasn't caused his brain to explode so I think it's working for him.
There's no secret. Have I mentioned that?
There will be times he annoys me (and I'm pretty sure I annoy him on a daily basis, even though he's kind about it). I'd still pick him. He'd pick me.
It's as simple as that. In this complicated, too hard, pain-in-the-ass world, it's just that easy.