May 14, 2009

The Art of Being Married

Yesterday I came across an interesting topic on a message board I frequent. The topic was marriage, and the questions posed were "Are you truly happy in your marriage? What are your deal breakers?"

My big deal breaker is abuse. I cannot and will not deal with any kind of emotional, mental, physical, or sexual abuse. I just won't. Infidelity is another deal breaker that comes to mind, but I also know that people can make their way back from that kind of betrayal.

One person responded with something like this: "We have no deal breakers. Having them implies that marriage is breakable. Divorce is not a word in our vocabulary."

I found this response to be a bit extreme: after all, it's good to have limits and boundaries, and it's also good to recognize how fragile (breakable, even) our relationships are if we neglect them. I was surprised to see how many people agreed with this particular person's response. This is not to say I am pro-divorce, but I do think that divorce is sometimes better for some people if all other options have been exhausted. (It does piss me off when people get divorced without even attempting marriage counseling or a trial separation, but whatever - it's not my marriage or my business.)

Something I hear a lot is "marriage is hard work." Roy and I have been married for almost two years, and maybe we're still in that blissful honeymoon stage, but our marriage has not been hard. Sure, it takes effort and a willingness to be supportive, understanding, and patient. And yes, he gets on my nerves sometimes. But overall, our marriage doesn't feel like work. It doesn't feel like I'm forcing myself to do something I don't want to do.

(I will say this, though: I think life is hard. And it's not like these life things that happen to us outside of marriage, as individuals, don't affect our marriage. But we've been able to work through all the hard stuff together as a team and as best friends. And I sure do hope we're able to continue to do this, especially since we are going to have a newborn with us in less than a month.)

I love being married. As different as Roy and I are, we are super duper compatible. We've both had enough drama in our lives and know that we don't want it in our marriage. So we don't play games, and when we "fight," we say we're sorry and then move on. It all feels very simple. I wonder if it'll always be this way or if we haven't been challenged enough as a couple yet. We've only been married for two years and together for four, after all.

What do you think? What are your deal breakers, if you have any? Do you think marriage is hard work? What are your thoughts on divorce? (If you aren't married, feel free to put in your two cents anyway.)


Angie Eats Peace said...

I think my deal breakers are the same as yours. I definitely can not tolerate abuse, nor infidelity.
I do think that marriage requires work. I have to remember my whole life is not about my, and my wants. I also have to balance that without letting my whole life be about Mario. I think we balance it out pretty well, though. We had pretty realistic expectations about marriage, and knew it wouldnt always be easy.
As ugly and horrible as divorce can be, I think it is worse to stay in an unhealthy relationship.

dapotato said...

my deal breakers are the same as yours, although i have seen others bounce back from infidelity after years and years of counseling and rebuilding trust. my mom was in a rather emotionally abusive relationship with someone who was mentally unstable and not getting help, so i definitely think it's better to get out of a situation like that or worse.

marriage hasn't felt like work to me for the most part, but i think the hubs might disagree. we both love it so far, but it's been harder for him than me (mostly since i quit working to go back to school and all that came with specifically my type of program). i do feel that it requires compromise and sacrifice, which can be very difficult. it's not easy, but i am happy to put hard work into something that is as rewarding and satisfying as this because i know good usually outweighs the bad in the end for us.

Kelli said...

I’ll bite… my ex-husband cheated on me for three & a half years before I found out (and had confirmation). He was cheating on me before we were engaged, before we were married, and continued well after we said “I Do” (with a person who was at our wedding among other avenues). Once we began to fall apart while seeing a marriage counselor & starting a trial separation, he became emotionally & verbally abusive. At that point, I ended it and haven’t looked back since. I fought for things because I didn’t want to fail, I didn’t want divorce to be the first option. Marriage takes nurturing but I wouldn’t call it work in the traditional sense when there’s a solid foundation to begin with.

tootie said...

I've been planning a post on a similar topic (especially as we near our 2-yr anniv!)

Marriage is so much easier and fun than I thought it would be. Don't get me wrong - there's compromise and work. But, overall, it's been such a blessing.

Guess we are both lucky to have the husbands that we do!

phairhead said...

abuse, neglect, refusing to get a job, refusing to communicate.

the boyfriend wants to get married but is a bit hesitant since he's already been divorced.

kim said...

I, too, have the same breaking points.

As far as marriage being work, I also disagree. It's no more "work" than dating was. It's about communication and compromise. I would be lying if I said that the past year has been roses and puppy dogs, and there are times my marriage is under tremendous strain because of this infertility shit and the cards life has dealt to us. But I know that there are ebbs and flows in life and relationships, and we'll get through it.

inflammatory writ said...

I have the same two deal breakers. Abuse would be #1, infidelity #2. I think I'd be more apt to forgive a drunken one night stand than an affair, for instance, but I guess I just don't know for sure.

I wouldn't say our marriage is "hard" work, but it's work. Sometimes we're on different pages and we are not on the same emotional wavelength. It happens. My husband and I do have an exceptionally good relationship, though. We communicate constantly and we love each other so intensely. That's never faded. I feel like we could get through almost anything together as long as we talked about it and were honest.

A said...

I'll admit it - I skimmed the comments.

You said it was extreme for the one person to say divorce isn't in their vocabulary. You think we should realize the fragility of our relationships. You're right, we should.

But my marriage has always been hard work. There have been times where I have been completely unhappy, miserable. I've thought about leaving. But then I remind myself of the vows we took, the promises we made each other and how we've always agreed that no matter what, we'd work it out. So I get back up and I start the work again. Mostly, neither of us believe divorce is an acceptable option.

It's exhausting sometimes. But I do love him. I love him with everything I have. So I work. And work. And work. And when we have good days, it's totally worth it.

(does this make any sense? lol)

Violet Femme said...

We've been married for almost two years and though we had a strong, solid foundation for our relationship, it has been difficult at times. It's not that we don't love each other so much, but there have been some seriously intense curveballs that life has thrown our way that are super tough to deal with. I'm confident we'll come through in the end, but it's been hard to stay positive. I know that I am hesitant to be so cavalier about divorce, particularly with parents who are each on their third marriage.

My personal dealbreakers are drug/alcohol abuse and abuse in general. I've seen my mom deal with both and I will never allow that in my life.

amber said...

I have the same dealbreakers as you. For us, I'd say that marriage has not felt like work. We're approaching 4 years and we just fit together. Sure, life has ups and downs, but we've both said that as much as there may be shit thrown at us in the world, our home and our marriage is a real sanctuary to us. And for that, I'm forever grateful and feel very blessed.