Are You Sorry You Married?
Are you sorry you said "I do" to the man or woman who shares your bed? None of us has any idea what we are getting into when we marry. Some get "for better." Some get "for worse." Some get "richer." Some get "poorer." Some get "sickness." Some get "health."
Some of us get confused. I sure did.
Confused about Why I am Unhappy
I married a man with a chronic illness, but I knew about it before we married. Even so, his illness affected both our lives. In my confusion, I let it affect them a lot more than necessary. If he blamed his illness for not wanting to attend a dinner party or learn to dance, I let my desire turn to resentment. I stayed home.
You know what I discovered after he died? I stayed home because doing those things I wanted to do would be uncomfortable for me, a physically inept introvert, and I wanted him by my side to protect me from discomfort.
He did not need me to stay home when he did; both of us traveled for work, just like grownups. His illness might have made those activities more uncomfortable for him, but you know what? We went camping and hiking. We drove 1,200 or 2,400 miles at a time. We carried our sailboat to the roof of our car when we wanted to get out on the water. When he wanted to do something, he did it in spite of his illness.
He avoided saying no because he had a ready-made explanation for what he did not want to do. And I avoided doing slightly scary things I wanted to try because I had a ready-made explanation, too: "My husband does not want to."
If you are sorry you married because your husband or wife will not join you in some activity or interest, how will your situation be any better after you separate, after you give up your shared interests and your shared memories?
Confused about Addiction
Some folks are sorry they married because the person they married has become addicted to alcohol. They get confused, too.
They recognize the addiction has taken away their husband's or wife's ability to do what they intend to do. Instead of dealing with this, they do what they can to prevent the consequences. They deliver phony excuses to employers or relatives. They ride in the car with a drunk driver to avoid angering him. They stay away from home or go to bed early to avoid seeing and hearing what they don't want to see and hear.
Then they lecture, or they beg. And they let themselves off the hook. Nothing they do to harm their relationship, including avoiding and lecturing and begging, deals nearly the blow addiction does, so they cannot be called on it. They may not even see their behavior would be a problem in a healthy marriage.
If you are sorry you married because your husband or wife became an addict or alcoholic, how will your mate ever find the strength to do the hard work of recovery when there are few consequences to remaining addicted and your role in their life has turned into scolding parent instead of partner?
Confused because You Could Have Had a V-8
Some folks are sorry they married because the person they fell in love with and married feels rather ordinary after a few years and someone younger, better looking, or wealthier flirts with them. Maybe they even have an affair that lifts them out of the ordinary for a while.
Ordinary, by definition, is whatever you encounter day after day. And both flirting and affairs, by definition, allow you to experience another person outside the context of ordinary life.
If you are sorry you married because the husband or wife you fell in love with has become an ordinary part of your life, how will you keep the next person in your life from becoming an ordinary part of it? And why do you think doing this will be easier with a stranger than with someone you already know so well?
Confused about Divorce
When I was sorry I married, I fantasized about life after marriage. I imagined new people in my life who would want to do the things I wanted to do. I pictured somehow paying for services like lawn care and home repairs and laundry on half the income. I would be free from childcare responsibilities on the nights when our son was with his father.
I did not divorce. My husband died. Our son was spared the difficult life of shuttling between two locations, two sets of rules, two ever further apart views of how life should be lived, two sets of secrets. Not that losing a father is any better, but I was spared the guilt of damage I had not considered while rehearsing my future.
I had to work awfully hard to pay for the lawn care, laundry, household repairs, and child care, a lot harder than I had ever worked. It did not leave a lot of time to invest in new friendships or new interests.
Clear about Love
Eleven years later, I married again. And I do not believe I will ever be sorry I did. I know now to expect love and only love. Some love comes in the form of shared interests. Some comes in the form of yardwork or laundry. Some comes in the form of chicken soup for your cold or breakfast in bed. Some comes in the hard work of overcoming an addiction or a physical limitation. Some comes in the form of great, adoring sex. But the moment you specify any one of these, you leave just a small crack for love to come in, instead of throwing the window wide open.
I hope you are never sorry you married.