What I wish I knew before getting married

Marriage is everything. It is partnership and comfort and love like you didn’t understand was inside of you. Marriage mirrors back at you everything you are: all your goodness and kindness and terribleness. Some days you will burst with joy at the mere thought of your spouse and it will feel like all the things you thought it would feel except more, better and deeper. Other days you will stand with an egg in your hand, making breakfast, so angry that you want to throw said egg as a warning that your heart is not OK, that this day does not not feel OK and that what your partner is saying does not matter because you are feeling trapped inside yourself and like maybe you will never get out and that you feel this way because of this marriage. Sometimes you throw the egg. Sometimes you do not. But usually the entire episode is over in time to hug on the couch and order take out. I’ve been married for seven years. This is what I wish I knew before.

1. One of you should be good with money

If neither of you is good with money, money becomes a laughing leprechaun that rides off atop a unicorn and takes all the electricity and your good vibes with it. Someone needs to understand ‘savings’ and ‘checking’ and dare I say ‘401K’—preferably this is both of you, but if one of you blacks out around numbers talk, the other one needs to roll up your sleeves and fix this sitch and you both need to be OK with it.  If not, life will be such a bummer that you will barely be able to talk to each other.

2. You’ve signed up for a roommate for life—be cool with it

Do you have the same taste? Do you not have the same taste? Do you like it cold and the TV loud? Does the other person like it hot and the TV low? This will take some sorting out.

3. That said, your partner will annoy you in ways you did not think possible

When the person you love buys the wrong toothpaste or hangs the paper towels in a way in which you do not favor or leaves dirty socks in the bed or throws the recycling in the trash or forgot to feed the animal that lives with you or parked your car weird—things that, if anyone else did them you’d be like “NP, I am an easy-breezy human!”—it’s somehow grounds for real anger or at least irritation or at least I FEEL VERY ANNOYED RIGHT NOW AND I CAN’T BELIEVE MYSELF. Marriage, if you let it, will become all about laundry and dishes and horrible things and you need to fight so it’s not.

4. Sex with only one person for the rest of your life…

If you’re lucky, it will be amazing and then dull and then amazing again and then dull and then surprising but then dull and sometimes just nonexistent but then exciting and interesting again. You just need to make it through the dull parts.

5. Your spouse can’t be responsible for your feelings/moods/dreams/hopes/life satisfaction

This should really be number one because you really can’t ask them to even try and you can’t blame them for things that are not their fault or project things onto them or act like a big whining baby even when all you want to do is be the most projecting, selfish married baby in all of marriage-land. Sure, there will be moments where you lean on each other, but the more emotionally self-sustaining you are, the better this whole marriage thing is going to be.

6. Don’t flirt, don’t cheat, don’t emotionally cheat

Keep your ego in check so you don’t need sexual attention to make you feel OK about yourself. Don’t lie and don’t betray. You get one trust card, don’t cash it in.

7. Be a person you’d want to be married to

Are you supportive, fun, kind, a good listener? Do you laugh at jokes? Are you affectionate, open, engaged and engaging? If not, why not?

8. When people say ‘marriage is work’ they really mean: you need to keep caring

You need to soften your heart daily and forgive when forgiveness is needed and not become one of those stern, closed-up jerks.  But you also need to keep caring about the other person in a real way and not forget that they are living, breathing people with feelings and not just another piece of battered furniture you can’t even see anymore. This, which seems by human-emotion standards fairly basic, will at times be hard to do. If you are not married, you might think: Treat my beloved spouse like a ratty old chair? NO WAY. But if you are married, you know. Keep it all in perspective, you have a partner in this lonely life, a person who knows and really loves you and that is actually worth trying for and giving a lot of damns.