This morning, I prepared a humble breakfast for my husband beforr he went to work. Domestic duties are not exactly my strongest suits; you would very much find me more inclined to work, code, or do some math things than cook, do dishes, or clean floors.
Society still expects women to put food on the table. And as a married woman, I can confirm firsthand that there are great advantages and immeasurable blessings that go with being a wife.
But the rosy picture is not a complete one. The truth of the matter is this: marriage is really a battlefield in its own right. Things can erupt over tiny things like how you failed to wash the strainer while cooking spaghetti or how much dust accumulated on the bedside table. You really need to be an optimist to last in a marriage.
I am happy and I cannot imagine not being married to my husband. But there are rough days where you cannot find any consolation or sweetness from your love. And it really tests your love– the depth of it because you will be seeing the best and the worst of the person and you are to love every inch of it, no matter what you find or how you find it.
Last night, I had an interesting dinner conversation with someone who is super anti-marriage. She insulted married people as boring and said that she wants to put up a business for single people or mistresses only. Considering that we were the only two married women in the group, and she was well advanced in years with her fully formed opinion of marriage, I think that staying silent about my thoughts is the best route. I did understand certain arguments she raised to support her pro-mistress stance. She kind of insinuated that in a matter of years, I might end up becoming one of her sorry examples.
It is really challenging as a newlywed because all the jaded old folks whose marriages failed can just tell you that there are no fairytales and it is doomed to fail. And as a newlywed, you need to remain optimistic in this sea of cynicism. That even when statistically there are more horrible marriages than fairly decent ones, you still need to give yours the benefit of the doubt. That even when old people seem to indirectly curse your marriage with the same sad endings that they had by voicing out their beliefs, you are supposed to go home and consider and hope that your story will be a completely different one.
You will hear jokes that the affection has an expiry date, that men who start out poor and succeed later end up being unfaithful to their wives and entitled to extra activities, that you need to maintain your waistline to keep your husband from philandering for fresh meat. Jokes which really drip and come from a place of pain. Their pain, unresolved and oozing out in evening conversations. This pain is real and rising annulment rates will attest to it.
It was very good to meet people who, without meaning to, try to tell you things contrary to how you would like things to work out. Because it is not fun to just idly sit by and talk to people who will just agree with you. Sometimes, I dare say that you need people who wil hurt you, insult you, or provide an alternative point of view. Because it indicates GROWTH and it opens an avenue for diverse ideas. Of course, if I am particularly in a rough patch with my husband, I should not hang out with people who are out to kill whatever hope you have on the institution of marriage. It will be unwise to tilt the scales of my mind in a single direction under such duress.
I like adversity because it tests my resolve. And I was happy in coming home after venomous words were spoken to me that time. After that and in spite of the disadvantages stated against married women like me, I still came home and loved my husband all the more for it. I still woke up the next day willing to make his breakfast and make sure that I stand behind the gate as he pulls out the car from the garage, not so different from the painting above of a poor woman who is seeing her husband go off to work in the farm. We still had our dreams. And we still have each other. We have problems (all unions do) and we are in position to solve it because we are both willing to make it work.
It is not for anyone to say that good men given a dash of power, material success, or elevated status are all destined to abuse it. It is not for anyone to say that our marriage is doomed to follow a pattern of misery.
Marriage is hard, but not to the point of despair. When negative people try to tell you things like these, you as a newlywed should take it as a challenge to do better in building your marriage.
It is definitely not easy. There are days that I am tempted to run back to my mom because it is so difficult. But the difficulty is made sweeter when it is shared. I see my husband, adjusting just as much as I am. And even when we are in a tug of war with the newlywed adjustments, we are in this TOGETHER. He is doing his best, and so am I. The cynicism only happens when a partner selfishly leaves the other behind. Nope. I signed up for the long haul. I am staying here, and so is he. When we prepared for our vows, we meant business. We meant to make it work, and we did not do it just because it is our marrying age.
I made sacrifices. I make them daily. He makes them too. And we don’t keep a tally of who did more because all our combined sacrifices go to the team score. And our team score is more important than our individual scores combined.
When I got married, although it is super difficult, I got more drive to persevere in my career. I got so inspired. I felt empowered to travel with my partner in life. We do not have a high end condo unit or a huge investment under our name, but we have each other and we have this fire that needs to be fanned continuously so that this marriage won’t perish or die like what the others say. I have never been so determined in my career. I have never taken additional risks. I had this blessing of marrying a person who is completely different from me but empowers me as a person. When married, you realize distinctly that everything you do affects you and another wonderful person that you treasure deeply. And this is often more than enough to overlook slights, other people’s careless remarks or predictions, or procrastination.
Marriage constrained me in some aspects. But overall, it empowers me more than it limits me. It is really a matter of perspective. It is matter of giving not just what you are ready to give, but giving for what your married situation demands. There is no room for filtered or selective charity. No room for ambivalence or half-hearted love. It is either you love with a real love to make it last or watch it fail miserably.
Marriage is the ultimate test of your love. It is not just about date nights or sparks or sex or being cute together. Some people belittle marriage because they just simply cannot stand to work on the “boring” things that go with it. There are no boring people in this world; there are only people who are unwilling and uninterested to make changes or do certain things in their lives to accommodate the demands of marriage. When you do something genuinely out of love, it ceases to be boring at that moment you resolutely chose to do it.
It is quite a handful but I gave it a lot of thought and since I am reaching the fifth month of being a married woman, I am chronicling my reflections for future reference.