Monday, September 17, 2012

Thoughts on Marriage

B has been in Japan for the last week. I do a lot more around the house and most of the R-related stuff (not surprisingly, since I don't have a job!), so sometimes I tend to imagine that I do everything. Having him gone made me realize all he actually does--like all the cooking, all the food shopping, and all the bathtimes. Oops! I don't know what I was thinking either. (Being entitled?)

B came back at 2:30 in the morning last night, and now we are both happy. He had an enjoyable and professionally productive time, but we very much dislike being separated from each other. In a way this is strange, because when he is home, naturally we go out to dinner, have interesting conversations or go on mini-adventures. But most of the time we are hanging around the house doing chores or individually pursuing our hobbies/time-wasting endeavors (depending on your perspective), not really talking or interacting. During the day, most of our conversations are about logistics or R; at night (ie, after R is asleep) hours will go by without us speaking a word to each other.

Marriage is a lot like parenting. The 'big moments' (like romantic nights out, or lavish vacations) are fun and memorable, but basically marriage comes down to all the little moments. Being married, and why I want B around, is really about the 30-second hug breaks, the inside jokes, the mutual appreciation of cute rabbit videos, corruption stories from China and recent academic research, and the ability to just sit quietly in the same room, happy in the mundane pleasure of each other's presence.

If your relationship is about the big moments instead, then it will never last, because marriage (or any long-term relationship) is mostly boring. That's because life is mostly boring: you have to brush your teeth, get dressed in the morning, pay the bills, and do all the other little tasks that make up one's existence, whether you live a "typical" life in some suburb or a "glamorous" one as a globe-trotting traveler, fabulous artist, or world-renowned expert.

Marriage in particular isn't really about having fun together (though hopefully that's part of it): it's about working together. The old-school farmer who picked his wife because she was a "hard worker" knew what he was doing, even if it's a little off-putting to people with modern sensibilities. Where he perhaps erred was that it's pretty difficult to work so closely (in the way necessary in marriage) with someone who doesn't appeal to you in a sort of visceral, ultimately irrational way (what people call chemistry, I guess).