October 2nd, 2018

Can you please one of the people all of the time?

***Here is a weird thing–I wrote this post back in August for my wedding anniversary, and it never posted. I just found it now in my drafts folder. I think I meant to post it, thought I did, and just assumed it never received any comments, as many of my posts don’t. It’s possible I decided at the last minute not to post it for some reason–maybe I decided it was too personal? I don’t know–I sort of forget a lot of August now. Here’s the post.***

Western ideas of romantic partnership are so weird. You are expected to like someone’s face, body, parents, cooking, taste in music, driving ability, pets, friends, clothes, parenting style, breath, way of communicating, moral code, and hair. Your romantic partner is expected to become the first person you think of when you are upset or need to move a piece of furniture or want to have sex or have financial concerns or are considering an international move or need career advice or want to up your housekeeping standards or want to invite friends over or want to adopt a new pet or child. You expect your partner to consider dropping friends you despise or values you abhor, to challenge beloved family if they are mean to you and to think about professional development in concert with what it would mean to your relationship to take that promotion, retrain for that new field, become part-time or full-time or zero-time or really anything at all. Our partners are the people we want to look hottest for but also perhaps the only people we are comfortable seeing us at our worst, the one whose opinion matters most but also the person who when I say “I want to be alone” mainly doesn’t count.

I’ve been married six years tomorrow and I still find it really bizarre. Great but just…1000 years ago when people were trading sheep for wives I bet they didn’t see all this coming (no wait, the sheep were a bonus with the wife??? I guess that system didn’t make much sense either).

Before I’d ever dated anyone I would walk down the street alone and imagine doing it holding someone else’s hand and how great that would feel, and you know what? I was right. It is great to have a person at the party who I know will always be willing to absorb me into his conversation when everyone I was talking to mysteriously needs to get a drink or go to the bathroom at the same moment. It is great to be at the movies and suddenly overwhelmed with hilarity and look beside me and he is laughing so hard too. It is great to have someone to look at the giant bug bite on my back and say, “Wow, that IS really bad.” It is great to be the smartest one half the time and to be in awe of how smart he is half the time–I am so glad I get to do both.

Still. Sometimes I tell someone I am having a hard time lately and they are baffled because “Mark is so great.” Which is honestly a thing I might have said when I was young and had never been in a great relationship and thought great relationships might be the universal antidote to all sadness. But then again I am baffled, too, by people who say “my partner is my best friend” or “my partner is my whole world, my everything.” My partner is my favourite human and I am so lucky to have him in my life, but I get to have friends too, right? And the rest of the world?

My wedding day is legit one of the happiest days of my life. Mean people sometimes liken that to having peaked in high school, but it’s not about the wedding being better than the marriage–it isn’t–but about concentration of happiness. I liked having a whole day to celebrate our love along with the love of our friends and family for us. I liked celebrating our new little family with our old big family.

Hmm, what I’m trying to say is there is a lot of pressure on romantic partnership to be so much to us, and it is already a lot, and the same time a lot of pressure to be chill about it. When we go out tomorrow to celebrate out anniversary, I’m sure there’s going to be half a dozen people who inform me gravely that they never bother to celebrate their anniversary or even know when it is. From a certain contingent, there’s this idea it’s shallow to think about one’s relationship too much or get too excited about how great it is, even if it is in fact really great. Are these the “my partner is my whole world” people too? I don’t know.

I am lucky. I am in love, and loved. I am tired. I have had a headache for most of the summer, but I just got back from a vacation where I swam in the ocean. Mark is the best thing that ever happened to me, but he isn’t perfect and he hasn’t solved all my problems, or even very many of them except for the problem of not being in love and the problem of not being able to carry heavy things. I think that’s enough. We aren’t friends. We’ve been married for six years.

One Response to “Can you please one of the people all of the time?”

  • Kerry says:

    This is really fascinating, and I so agree in many ways, and not in others, and I loved it.

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So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

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