An (absolutely, infuriatingly, mind-f*ckingly) (im)Perfect Marriage
My niece, bless her, said to me recently that when she thinks of the perfect couple, she thinks of me and her Uncle Fester, a name she and her sister gave to Mike.
Morg's 12 and her parents are going through a divorce, so she should be forgiven for this erroneous perception of relationships. She has a long time ahead watching me and her Uncle Fester and thinking, "Holy shitballs, please don't let me turn out like them."
But I've heard this from more than one person over the years. Not that we're the "perfect couple," exactly. We're not. Like at all. But people tend to have a faith in our relationship that I sometimes have trouble sustaining. Over the years, I'll admit to relishing this "perfect couple" status, but it can also feel like a lot of pressure under which a marriage could crack in quiet.
The Idea of Us
I think we all appreciate the admiration of our peers, so I never objected or tried to dissuade others from thinking that Mike and I got all our shit basically worked out for the cruise that will be our old age. I'd keep quiet when someone praised our ability to lead lives seemingly independent of each other.
I was also reluctant to take our fights to my friends who held our marriage in such high esteem. When someone thinks your husband is rad, it's hard to go to them and tell them you hate his guts and want to smother his face with a stinky pillow your dog uses as a butt prop.
vs. the Truth of US
We've lived together since I was 19 years old. Our first place was a trailer with a hole in my bedroom floor where a possum or raccoon would take a dump regularly. What I'm saying is: we've seen someshit and come a long way. What I'm also saying is: we're grown ass people now and have very little in common with them youngins.
This morning, Mike asked if I wanted to go to breakfast, an unusual invitation since he doesn't like breakfast food. [Eye roll here.] I wanted instead to go to my favorite coffee shop in Mid-city where they swirl fancy milk flowers in your latte, and then I wanted to take the Werepig to the park. I didn't explicitly tell Mike this. I just assumed his invitation to have breakfast was an invitation to spend the morning with him. Um, no.
My ideal Saturday involves a leisurely stroll in this glorious spring weather, maybe an antique store or two. Definitely coffee. Mike's ideal Saturday involves getting up early, conducting all of his chores super fast, completing anything that requires him to be outdoors as soon as possible, then lying in our bed and reading his D&D books all day. Yes, D&D books. Do with that what you will.
We are opposites.
This occurs not just on our Saturdays, but on vacations, too. I want to travel the world. He doesn't want to leave New Orleans for more than an hour. I want to spend a week in a cabin in the mountains. He asks, "What are mountains?" I hate guns. He wants to buy a gun. On and on and on and on.
So, You're Getting a Divorce Right?
Well, no. We've managed this for an eternity. I usually spend Saturday brunch with my friends. I make dates with people who would actually enjoy those dates. I travel by myself, even though my grandma thinks it's super dangerous for me to be in a big city like Orlando alone. [New eye roll, but loving, because my grandma is sweet.]
The truth is: We are both assholes.
We have this thing we do that sums up why we end up yelling at each other in a car on the way to a glorious park bursting with vibrant flowers. One of us says, "It's not about you." The other one snaps back, "It's always about you." Then we go back and forth naming the long accumulation of grievances that prove the other one is more selfish.
More truth: People are Exasperating
The older we get, the more we like things done in our own particular way. If we're real stubborn asses, which, let's be honest, we are, we start to believe that our way of doing things is the right way to do them. So, when I don't put the toothpaste back in its holder and leave it instead lying on the counter, Mike thinks I'm just being an idiot. When he pushes dirt around with the broom and refuses to clean to my exacting standards, I tend to think he is hygienically inferior to me and undeserving of my nice towels.
These daily negotiations happen when living with anyone. A million tiny compromises necessary in order for two or three or ten people to share space. Pull this out to a macro level, and it's a miracle that we can all get in our cars and drive on a road without Hulk-level road rage accidents every five seconds.
Relationships are hard. And sometimes they suck.