The day I said 'I do', I was really thinking...'We're doomed'.
I'm a product of divorce and marital pessimism. When my husband proposed, I thought, 'What the heck? I was quickly approaching the big 3-0. It would be an experience that I can add to the list'. I'd likely have divorce papers to show for it, instead of a "Been there, done that" souvenir.
My husband has been married once before- it didn't go well. Like, at all! First marriages have about a 50% survival rate, whereas 2nd marriages (either spouse's 2nd) have a higher mortality rate of 70% divorce.
There's no doubt the deck is stacked against us yet we've been through my unexpected chronic illness which has left me immobile at times, a custody circus (nice way of saying nightmare) with his first child from the other marriage, his depression and PTSD, my anxiety, poor times, in-laws from hell, sudden job losses, miscarriage, and most days we have no external support from friends or family.
And this explains why I was right to say, 'I'm doomed' rather than, 'I do'.
Here we are, still married- 12 years/ together 14, and raising two small children, a dog, a fish, a hamster, a house, and three rabbits.
You pick a partner for yourself, but often you create something entirely bigger, together.
So why did I pick him? He was boyishly charming, but really he was completely forthcoming about all his faults. One of our first conversations I'll never forget, he rattled off all his mistakes, mishaps, and character flaws in a daring take-me-or-leave-me way.
Either he was crazy...or the one for me! After dating men who led with their best qualities, in a perfectly polished way, I kind of liked someone who was real. That is, until it was real!
We struggled at first. All those confessions were indeed a heavy dose of reality! This marriage thing was real life, and there were consequences from his past that reared their ugly head.
But here's why we're together so far:
My expectations are low. That doesn't sound so good for my husband, but let me explain. While other little girls were fantasizing about the knight in shining armor, a perfect wedding, and marriage scenario, I was laying down the forethought on how to house 500+ rescue animals on my farm.
I never expected to be married, or ever led my life as if I would, let alone find myself in a marriage that works. Every day is a surprise and a blessing, not an expectation.
We've both had enough hardships that we expect things to be hard. Tough times don't throw us for a loop. Neither of us expected marriage to be rosy (or life to be fair). We simply don't back away from challenges. We don't give up and we're both stubborn.
Here's why others are failing:
If you plan on a happily ever after, it will come true.
Part of the happy-thoughts-lead-to-a-happy-life trend is off base for a lot of important aspects in our lives. Marriage being one of them.
When you plan happy, you're probably already happy. You're in the moment and not looking at future scenarios.
"It’s not love we’re looking for, only excitement and thrill in life. We want someone to watch movies and party with, not someone who understands us even in our deepest silences. We spend time together, we don’t make memories. We don’t want the boring life. We don’t want a partner for life, just someone who can make us feel alive right now, this very instant. When the excitement fades, we discover nobody ever prepared us for the mundane."
"We don’t believe in the beauty of predictability because we’re too blinded by the thrill of adventure." ("Why Modern Relationships Are Falling Apart So Easily Today", Ankush Bahuguna, Feb, 2016).
We take great efforts, like waiting to marry or thoughtfully making a list of what we want in a perfect partner, that we expect our efforts to be nearly foolproof, and deliver in a grand way.
It's like the younger generations collectively laughed in the face of their parents' divorce and said: "We're going to get our shit together...then get together".
You are a work in progress til the day you die. You'll never have your shit together! And if you have any expectations, it should be that your supposedly perfect spouse is also a work in progress.
Since the earliest recorded history, we know that a choice in partners has never been logical. People have married for money, property collaborations, royal bloodlines, same background/socioeconomic, physical attraction, and other short-lived scenarios. We put all that logic and preparedness into something highly illogical. Love knows no logic!
In another comprehensive article on marriage, "The good news is that it doesn’t matter if we find we have married the wrong person." ("Why You will Marry The Wrong Person", Alain De Botton , May, 2016).
Most of us have had bad past experiences with love beginning early in life when parents or other loved ones let us down. We think that will change in marriage. Our spouse will be the one to not let us down. In comes the rude awakening!
I've seen people divorce then pick someone with exactly all the traits the ex didn't have only to discover unforeseen negative traits in the new person. If I had any advice at all, it would be to pick someone you can solve problems with...and enjoy being around.
Constantly reacting and living from the past when we're better off just fixing the present.
We marry the wrong people because we don’t associate being loved with feeling happy.
It's completely illogical as to why my husband and I are together, but I'm okay with that. It makes the mundane days a little more exciting knowing we're against all odds.
Marriage is all I expected it to be. Not perfect. "It might sound odd, but pessimism relieves the excessive imaginative pressure that our romantic culture places upon marriage." ("Why You Will Marry The Wrong Person")
It really isn't that my marriage sucks, it's just that on the days it does, I remind myself that no one ever promised me a rose garden. I'm actually quite happy on the happy days, and quiet on the unhappy days.
To be honest, the unhappy days are usually when he confuses his needs for mine ;-)
He's asked me on a few occasions, 'Why are you with me?' and I reply, 'Because you feel like home'.
I cant explain that answer other than knowing what we seek in someone else isn't happiness. We mistake it for that. It's familiarity. Perhaps a person that feels like home. Even when your house gets messy, it still feels like home...perhaps more so.
I'm passionate about no-nonsense self-improvement. Too many of us are plagued by faulty thought patterns- I aim to change that!