Friday, January 20, 2012

On Marriage

I read last night that Dooce blogger Heather Armstrong and her husband have split. Well, I guess, "trial separation" is the more appropriate wording. I read Dooce pretty religiously when I was living in CA--her style really appealed to me as an ex-southerner living smack dab on the other side of the country. I stopped reading about the time of the "washing machine incident" which was about the time that the Armstrongs started getting fancy. It just wasn't palatable to me anymore and led to me feeling more pissed off after I read each post. I didn't need that in my life. But, still, I totally dig Armstrong's style with words.

I guess that is why this news struck me so strangely. I was up last night thinking about this shit, ya'll. And while my anxiety ridden mind will often find really odd things to get fixated on at 4:00 in the morning, I think there are other reasons why I'm sitting here at my desk, listening to Ryan Adams's Cry on Demand and feeling all together like a sadsack 14 year old. I know it sounds odd, but I have a strange idea (especially strange, since I am a child of divorced parents) that marriages, when they are entered into by smart, caring, modern people like myself and Armstrong and all three of you readers, are infallible. Love, as it is, will find a way and if you are quirky enough to accept the fact that the other person is wackily, oddly adorable and their faults similar, you are more than ready to accept the mantle of that lifetime commitment. So basically, to put it simply, marriage in my mind is a Zooey Deschanel movie. Sure, it can be irritating, but in the end, it is too wonderfully dorky to step away from. Seriously! Look at those eyes and walk away!

Of course, that is not true at all, and despite my heart's protestations, my brain knows better. People get divorced all the time, even if they are bright and spend their days looking at Tumblr blogs and clips from The Daily Show. Matt and I have had our rough patches, and none of them were caused by anything cerebral. They were all caused by complete and utter shit, the daily minutiae of life that eats at you like a bedbug. Take, for instance, last night. Alice is going through an especially trying sleep time right now, a problem that has caused me much (yes, even more) sleeplessness and has really threatened my sanity (for reals, ya'll). I couldn't get her to sleep last night, just couldn't do it, and Matt and I were both pissed at her for it. Yeah, we were pissed at a 2 year old. But she is an especially adorable little thing, and well, you shouldn't be pissed off at something that really can't control anything in it's life, even it's own bodily functions. So we took it out on each other. Finally, Matt took Alice and a stack of books off to the bedroom, and I sulked on the couch and thought mean thoughts about him until I fell asleep. Maturity, ya'll. I HAZ IT.

This kind of crap, day in and day out, that's what does it. Tears the adorable Zooeys into screaming Kris Kardashians. And people tell you all this stuff about marriage, that you have to work at it, that you shouldn't go to bed mad and all of that. And it is all true, I suppose, for someone's marriage. Not necessarily mine. In my mind, saying I have to "work at" something, means that I won't do it, just like I won't work at learning math or developing a decent skin care routine. So I don't think about marriage in those terms. And if I couldn't go to bed mad at something, nothing would ever get solved. I will stay up and argue until I am blue in the face--if I can just go to bed, get some sleep, however short it may be, when I get up, I will be much more pleasant, and probably, have forgotten what pissed me off in the first place.

So I don't know the answers. I don't even have a decent, funny platitude to write on the "Recipe for a Successful Marriage" card for my brother-in-law's wedding reception next week. But what I keep thinking about is this moment, right after my actual wedding. Matt and I ditched the hokey recessional and walked out of the Wren Chapel (like bosses, I might add) to Heroes by David Bowie. And there was this moment, when we were standing in the back in front of the big double doors, and no one from the rest of the wedding had moved yet, and we just stood there together with these big goofy grins on our faces and I can only describe the feeling going through my mind as "LOOK AT WHAT WE JUST DONE DID." It was definitely one of the happiest, most sublime, almost otherworldly moments of my life. And I guess, if I had to write a tip for marriage, if I had to boil it down to what I want and what everyone deserves to have, it would be to always be with the only other person in the world who remembers that moment. The only other person who was there, and who was there all those other times and has the same screwed up memories that I do. I want to be in my 80's and be able to look at the other person at the kitchen table and say "Remember when Alice was a newborn and she had a green tint to her butt-crack?" or "Remember that time we took the kids to New York and got Sam's stroller (with Sam in it) caught in a subway turnstile?"

So I guess that is why I am sad. I want that, and I want for everybody to have that, and the fact that Heather Armstrong, a person who I have never met and will probably never meet and will probably not really remember in 10 years might not have that, well, it fucks with me. I am not the most sane person on the block.

Marriage will make you that way, I suppose.


  1. Interesting news. Unsurprisingly, I once shared your devotion to Dooce, and dropped her around the same time you did - when she stopped seeming "real". That said, it feels like finding out an old friend is going through a break-up.

    Stranger still to consider this news in the wake of my own break-up. Sure, we weren't married, but we may as well have been after seven continuous years together, greater than 10 off-again, on-again. Everyone saw us as "the perfect couple," those friends who are made for each other, who seem to put in the needed work to make it through. One of our friends likened the breakup to the Great Wall of China tumbling down. (That was greatly exaggerated, but I appreciated the sentiment.)

    I'm sad for Dooce, too... And it feels weird to revisit her just to rubber-neck in the wake of her misfortune.

  2. I agree on the rubber-necking. I checked the site this morning, and reminded myself what a truly good writer she is and how sad the situation is. Then, I felt bad about it, like it was too private for me to see or care about.

    Your break up shocked the pants off me, I ain't gonna lie. When I saw Facebook relationship status changes, I thought it was a mistake. Interestingly, Matt and I were going through a weird spell during that time, and he accused me of being mean to him because it was "trendy among my facebook friends." I think I did something very mature at that moment and by "mature," I mean "infantile." Thankfully, we got over the whole thing. I am glad that you are happier now.

  3. Glad to see you back. I'd been wondering about you.