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This is Marriage

July 23, 2013


I recently saw Judd Apatow’s movie, This is 40. Realistically it could be called, This is Depressing because it’s such a downer of a movie. There are some funny moments, yes, but truly, these people seem to hate each others’ guts. It got me thinking about marriage and relationships past the honeymoon stage. Better yet, the my-husband-watched-me-give-birth and I’ve-held-a-plastic-bedpan-for-him-to-pass-a-kidney-stone … that stage.

I started examining my own relationship, which is in the category I just described. I do see how it happens (like in the movie) couples slowly growing apart or knowing each other so well that the tolerance level dwindles. Believe me, there have been moments in my marriage where I’ll look at Dan like I cannot believe what is coming out of his mouth. He gives the same disbelieving look to me. I’ve seen it more often than I care to admit and chose to ignore. It’s that moment, at dinner with another couple, when they argue over whether it was October or November when they last vacationed. The wife sternly says it was definitely after Halloween and the husband is frantically checking his iPhone to prove her wrong. You think the whole table has moved on and suddenly he’s showing people the weekend of October 27 with Hilton Head blocked off on his iCal. Boom. See. I was right. He was, but does it matter? Does it really matter?

We know this though, it’s when you lock eyes with your spouse and exchange a knowing look and think, thank goodness we’re not that couple. Like you two have it all figured out. In relationships, particularly long-term ones, it does matter. There are unwritten running tallies of expectations constantly being met and not met. Is this what marriage is? Is this my marriage? I look at relationships I grew up with to wrap my head around it a bit. My own mother didn’t wear makeup until after my father died. Is it because he liked it that way? Or did she evolve into something else after he was gone? Was there something in her she suppressed when he was alive, or did she just grow after he was gone? That is a simplistic example. But in our need to be right, is it about biting our tongue to let our partner win? Suppressing who we are?

Is that the trade off? The yin and yang of relationships where between the tenderness and expected moments of good comes expected moments of annoyance, arrogance and our own constant struggles with always having to be right? It’s that Dan gives my leg a squeeze when we’re tucked together on the couch when the good part of a movie comes on screen. I didn’t get that squeeze with, This is 40. We both looked in the mirror that night disgusted with what we didn’t want to become.

Image: Dan and I mirroring each other without even realizing it while on vacation. I should add (for vanity’s sake) I was five months pregnant in this photo and not just vacation-eating while sporting elastic waistband shorts.