In living rooms across the world, two people are scratching their heads noticing receding hair lines and wrinkles wondering what in the world they were thinking. They don’t have the money to go out and staying in means more of the same old same old – kids, bills, hot-dogs for dinner and reruns on television. Rent a few movies to try and bring the date night back and they will be rapidly placed with the kids favorites flicks. So now, instead of popping pop corn, splitting a bottle of wine (or two), snuggling close on the couch in a dark room with the scariest of horror flicks these same two people are getting last minute chores in while the kids sit fully entertained in the living room eating their pop corn and toasting kool-aid. So, tell me again why we got married?
The dream always starts out the same. The house, the jobs, the children. Plenty of money and nothing really pressing like past due laundry, homework or a yard to take care of. Life is grand. You and your friends can all go out as couples, closing down night clubs and eating breakfast at 4am in some local dive that serves eggs to chase away the hangover. Vacations weren’t planned and were the result of that ‘let’s get out of here’ feeling. Throw a few things in a bag and you’re gone. Then the dream transforms a bit to the fairy tale of having children and a new, bigger house. It doesn’t matter so much in the beginning of parent hood that couple time is obsolete. But before you know it, you are both 45 years old, struggling to keep your careers alive and trying even harder to stay awake longer than the kids do, just to get a break. From Peter to pay Paul becomes the norm and those days where you flew by the seat of your pants are long gone.
So, what is it all about? When we are young, in our teens we can’t wait to grow up. In fact, we push and bend all the age appropriate rules as far as we can just to achieve adult hood. Soon our fake id’s are no longer needed and the bars seem much less exciting. Then, we find ourselves in lives that are far more restrictive than the ones we had as teens and we wish we could go back to someone doing our laundry, taking care of us and making our lives easier.
The better part of this portion of life raising children and questioning why the hell we got married is spent in overdrive. Inside, the adults are either looking backwards or forwards to retirement (like that will change everything). So, the middle is the problem. And in this middle, we are often the healthiest with the biggest opportunity of being happy. We are both privileged with age and blessed with bodies that are still strong; yet our minds are so overwhelmed that we can’t get either of those things to work in our favor. And sex becomes one of those things like fresh milk. We hope to find it in the refrigerator when we need it, pray it isn’t full of lumps or gone sour right when we are thirsty and that there will always be enough left in the gallon to fill up a simple bowl of cereal. Not too much to ask?
Questioning why we got married is not a bad thing. When the routine life we are in is no longer exciting, absolutely fulfilling or enticing it can be tiring. It can be frustrating to see our lives as the glass half full and it is only human nature to tire of eating the same thing for dinner week in and week out. But neither the answer nor the solution is found in the past or lurking in our future. The answer is being able to respect and see the simple irony of it all.
The more we ask for, the more we get. The more we get in our new lives, the fewer things from the past there are to fit in our lives. As we have less of our pasts in our lives we lose our comfort zone and try to scramble backward, feeling resentful and cheated somehow. Sadly, it was just us that asked for this (whatever this is to you) all along. More importantly, the more time we spent in our past whether mindfully or otherwise the less present we are in our now. And the truth is that it is the right here and now that is absolutely and substantially important.
Not to be cliché, but there is no one that can predict whether tomorrow will come for us or not. Why did you get married, just to endure this life you have? Because you were in love or because you were pregnant. Maybe you felt it was the thing to do and it fit in with your image of being a grown up. Maybe you just wanted to, thought you were really in love or thought that it would make life complete. Maybe the guy had good hair and the girl had a nice body. The point is that it doesn’t matter WHY you got married. It only matters that you did. It also doesn’t matter who you married or when you married. What matters is that you spend your married life rolling with the punches (no matter how bad they hurt) and that you keep yourself in the present moment. That is where life really thrives.
When you are in the present moment, you can be grateful for the bowl of spilled popcorn on the living room floor with your kids fast asleep halfway through the newest Disney movie. You can be happy that all your bills were paid even if it left you barely enough to buy your favorite coffee, let alone eat at your favorite restaurant. You can also learn to appreciate the person lying next to you who doesn’t want to have sex all the time which after a while can feel like more work than anything else. You can also realize that the bad moods of your significant other just prove they are comfortable enough with you to be true to who they really are. You can feel satisfied that life as you knew it has changed, but life as you know it now is better than you ever imagined. Be realistic, it’s easy to pick out a spouse, get married and start a life when the world is your oyster. It is something totally opposite to persevere through this life with the gentle appreciation and often undermined love that exists between the two of you now.
The next time you find yourself wondering why you got married in the first place you have to do just a few things to survive. First off laugh. Laugh hard, because it really is funny how and how fast things change. Laugh because there is nothing else to do. Secondly, pinch your self and return to the now. The past has nothing for you and the future is a crap shoot. Third, remind that person who smells like they need a shower, who steals the covers and who drives you mad with idiosyncrasies that come straight from the devil that you love them. Remind them that there is no one else in this world you would rather not be eating out with, not dating, not having sex with and not making ends meet with. Then laugh some more. After all, YOU asked for it.