On love and marriage…or An ode to my husband

I saw this quote on a friends Facebook page and liked it. I don’t know who said it or when, but I think it makes sense:

“Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being “in love” which any of us can convince ourselves we are.”

I think that it is pretty spot on. Read what Gibran says about love, he too doesn’t talk about the breathlessness, but more about the reality of it, that it will feel great, but also hurt like hell. That it is both the most beautiful thing in the world but also the ugliest thing at times. If you accept it, you have to accept it all, truthfully and honestly.

On Love (from The Prophet):

      Then said Almitra, “Speak to us of Love.”
And he raised his head and looked upon the people, and there fell a stillness upon them. And with a great voice he said:
When love beckons to you follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you. And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.
For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth. Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.
All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life’s heart.
But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor,
Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.
Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed; For love is sufficient unto love. When you love you should not say, “God is in my heart,” but rather, I am in the heart of God.”
And think not you can direct the course of love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.
Love has no other desire but to fulfil itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips (1923).

I have been drowning ‘in passion’ so many times in my life. Each time was important, I think, to help me to the place I am today with my husband. To even be married really, because for the longest time, that wasn’t me and I didn’t think it should define me. Perhaps that is why I always fell deep ‘in passion’ and nothing more.

Believe me, my husband and I sometimes are not full of passion, but the love is there regardless, which I cannot say of my previous partners. When the passion died for whatever reason, so did we. For a long time he has been the first person I think of sharing both my most crappy and most wonderful days with.

A friend of mine read the first quote: You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. In response she said, this sounds a bit like love is only staying together because it is convenient and the easier thing to do…?” Whereas I see it more as, and this is gonna sound so utterly cheesy that I need to be excused for saying it, but that you are incomplete without the other person for too long. That doesn’t mean that you and your partner are super co-dependent but, that the other person fills you up where you didn’t realize that you were not full or complete before. Why is it that the earlier statement is utterly cheesy, because as I said I had been ‘in passion’ too many times to count, probably on purpose. I was always the last person to say that type of cheese crap. Real love isn’t a romantic comedy, where the woman may have a life and a career but she is really nothing until she meets The One. That if a woman is successful, she must be an uncoordinated and quirky ugly duckling waiting to be discovered by a man or be a “highly strung and socially incapable single career woman” (Angyal, 2011)

As Chloe Angyal recently wrote in Jesebel,

“[H]e would be a boorish, misogynistic film critic –- played, to quote Tina Fey, by “Gerard Butler or a coat rack with a leather jacket on it.” We would keep showing up at all the same screenings, and he would be even more cynical about the genre than I was. He would scoff at how “chicks” are “so lame” and about how romance is for suckers. I would hate him instantly.

We all know what would happen next. Misogynist McGee and I would be continually thrown together, and over time I would melt his cold, hard, asshole exterior –- because in romantic comedies, men who appear to be misogynistic pigs are simply waiting for the right woman to prove to them that women deserve to be treated like human beings. We would fall for each other. My ex would realize the error of his ways, and ask me for another chance. Torn between the two men, I would decide to escape to insert-fantastic-international-destination-here to focus on my dissertation. And then, just as I was about to leave New York… Airport chase, key kiss, etcetera…None of the predictable rom com stuff happened, though, because my life is not a romantic comedy, and neither is yours (I Spent a Year Watching Rom-Coms and This Is the Crap I Learned, 2012).”

Angyval continues by adding, “To say that the romantic comedies of the last decade have been noticeably sexist and regressive is an understatement.” And she is right. She is also right to point out that some of the best-loved films were rom coms, but it makes me think about the current political state of affairs in US politics. This idea that women need protecting, saving, and what not from a man, that we obviously  cannot make our own decisions about our own bodies or our own lives in one way or another, and both men and women buy into this idea. And because of this we shouldn’t fight on the front lines along side men? Or in spite of public opinion polling, Republican politicians think women cannot or should not make decisions about their own body. Yet, like with many of my posts, getting political isn’t necessarily the reason for my posting this blog. I don’t need protecting. I don’t need saving. I never did, but that doesn’t make me a man-hating feminist, an uncoordinated and quirky ugly duckling waiting to be discovered by a man or  “highly strung and socially incapable single career woman”. I was always just me living my life.

Looking back, I didn’t get married until I was 31 years old because I wasn’t ready. I wanted to be selfish, have fun, live in the moment and ‘love’ with passion and wild abandon. I enjoyed being single, and dating for a spell and when I didn’t enjoy it any more, I stopped doing it. I didn’t stop meeting people and making friends, but the way I dated did change. I liked not necessarily being tied down having to check-in with my partner who was at home with the cat and dog waiting for me. I also enjoyed having great sex, not that sex dies once you are married – believe me! I used to think that I was sort of like a ‘guy’ with regard to sex. There was no reason I shouldn’t have it because it is fun, as long as I am always safe. Sex is different now though, better in so many ways but, I don’t know, it is hard to explain without sounding like I am knocking my partner, which is NOT my intention at all – so I will just stop there. Maybe sometime in the future I will be able to honestly discuss married sex as well as I am all this other stuff.

I  also didn’t want to settle, for another person, for a career, for a life lived in the same place for the next 50 years, for anything. That, admittedly led to not finding the right partners time and again. While some of my previous partnerswere utterly hopeless and wrong for me, others were fantastic for that time in my life. As I have already said, they helped me become the person I am today, just as much as my travels, trainings, and other people and experiences have. They helped lead me to my husband, who I might not have otherwise really truly seen if it were not for those earlier partners. I love him dearly, hence why I married him.

He was the first person of the opposite gender that I lived with, and he moved in after we had dated for about two weeks. Seriously! It was that easy and it remained being that easy for a really long long time. Before I had met him, the thought of living with a partner was fun for a hot minute and then the realization of what we actually had would set it. I always looked for ‘fun for right now’ and that isn’t necessarily house-broken. Furthermore, in spite of my desire to live in the moment and have fun, I have always thought that I have always done a pretty good job of seeing the forest for the trees, no matter the situation. Then moving forward without regret, feeling confidant that I had assessed all options. With this marriage never seemed like the right option. I didn’t want to get married because it was something I wassupposed to do and it wasn’t something to rush into, kind of like a tattoo or a business partnership.

My husband proposed to me, the day I was leaving Oregon for a short stay in New York City and then a year-long stay in Germany. It was hours before I was set to board my plane and I was suffering a panic attack because I had realized so many things were left undone. I still had boxes of clothes in the living room because I couldn’t decide what I was going to be wearing for a year. Our futon mattress was in the kitchen where the dining table used to be, we were migrating into a  smaller and smaller space within our apartment, which meant we were sleeping in the kitchen.  I had realized as I sat on that mattress that I forgot to inform the electric and internet companies to stop service, meanwhile my husband was pacing back and forth in the background almost like a freaked out meth-head. It was making my situation worse, so I yelled at him to please stop. He did stop only for a moment before resuming his pacing once again. Yet, the next thing I know, he is knelt beside me on the futon with a silver opal ring in hand. He asked and I said yes and suddenly all that other shit didn’t matter.

While we struggle at our daily lives, because we are human and not beautiful characters artfully chosen by casting directors to represent the man and the woman in a rom com. Both my husband and I gained weight after we got married. I like to call it the post-wedding-freshman-fifteen and are now after our first year, trying to get rid of that weight (my husband happens to be looking great while it has been a bit harder for me). We struggle with our jobs, bills, sleeping, and many other things. We also fight, and thanks to the way I fight, we usually fight loud and big. I can be ruthlessly mean, something I unfortunately picked up while dating. In spite of all of this I wouldn’t choose anyone over my husband if I had an opportunity to choose again. Being married doesn’t make us any better or worse than anyone else. We still also struggle with our happiness as individuals, partly because we are still trying to find our places here in an adopted culture and language.

Marriage isn’t an accomplishment, but I am proud of my husband and I know he is proud of me. As I tried to explain to my friend, we got married because we just fit together, meaning that being together makes each of us whole. I always said I wanted a partner in crime. None of my previous suitors ever really fit the bill and I am happy this last one did.

I suppose the best way to describe it is to not actually describe it and leave it up to Hedwig to describe the best way I know:

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