Monday, January 11, 2010

Marriage and Infidels: Part III

So a good marriage is what? I love how Charlotte said it was a metamorphosis, that her husband has changed before her eyes and she before his. And that she's glad she witnessed those changes; honored, even. And there's a chance she nourished that evolution. Allowed and enabled him to be the man he is now. Maybe they fertilized each other (is that too farm-y a word? Look, I live in Oregon) and without the other a quite different metamorphosis would have taken place. Something not quite as beautiful. And maybe the best way to stay married is to stay. If it's good, that is. If it's right. If it's real. But ah, there's that rub again.
None of us wants a marriage that's just X marks on a calendar, a prison term of required days. It's not a trap we absentmindedly stepped into. Most of us weren't actually forced into someone's devious clutches, were we? Even at the Little Chapel of Love in Vegas, we're usually somewhat awake. Whoever we were we stood up before God or Man or someone wearing something formal, we said some words we thought we meant, we made our girl friends wear dresses they didn't want to wear (taffeta, bows, knee length, emerald green) we paid for champagne or beer or cheap wine, we cried and ate cake and made people give us presents, lots of them, and again nobody forced us into this. In sickness and in health. To love and to cherish. I take you, whoever you are. Some of us made mistakes. Some of those mistakes turn out miraculously wonderful. Some don't.
Right now I'm sitting in a hotel in Santa Monica, working on a job away from home for three weeks, and I miss my husband already and I just got here. Reader, how sick is that. He is, absolutely and unequivocally, my best friend. We actually like each other. We actually love each other. There are still mysteries here, and we've been together for 19 years - what? 19? Who knew? And as I sit here almost watching 'Revolutionary Road' (a film you don't have to watch because you can literally hear it a hundred miles away) and its portrayal of a marriage I wouldn't want in ten thousand years, some thoughts on a good marriage come to mind. See if you agree:
Respect. Respecting each other's uniqueness, the way he's not you and you're not him, instead of vainly forcing the other into your mold of...'be this, be this dream in my head.'
Intimacy. The ability, and not just the wish, to reveal thoughts and ideas and truths you never thought you'd reveal to anyone. Having them caught, understood, acknowledged. Not laughed at. Not thrown back in your face during a fight. Not reduced or ridiculed.
Safety. Knowing that if you blow a gasket, or he blows his, no one will just walk out the door. Safety enough to hold you both when things go bad, money fades, jobs are lost, wrinkles grow, changes come.
Honesty. The ability to say 'Yes that does make your ass look fat' and 'I do kind of wish your ass wasn't so fat, but I love you anyway.' The ability to want to be better to the person you're spending your life with instead of worse. The way you don't take each other for granted all the time, because you know, eventually, time ends.
Wanting them in a way you still don't want another. Letting that want be heard, and met.
Gentleness. A great word.
Remembering the vow you took and knowing this was a choice you made, a choice all your own. He's not a pair of boots you can just return on a whim. She's not a chore you must endure. And if you made the wrong choice, then confess already. Work on it or change it, have the courage of your convictions, have some convictions at least. Not every marriage will work or last or go on for decades. Some, like cars and blind dates, run only for so long. So does that mean they're a failure? Or just ended on their due date?
And so back the to adultery/infidelity/infidel question: seriously, can you be unfaithful and still have a good marriage? If both sides know about it, no secrets, no lies, then I say yes. And good for you. But if it's a lie and something you do behind the other's back, then no. One of you has a marriage and the other has...convenience. One has a smorgasbord, an all-you-can-eat-buffet. And the other is on a lousy diet. Infidel, infidelity. Yes perhaps they are the same thing. - Janet

No comments:

Post a Comment