Wedding Belle

January 25, 2010 at 6:23 am (general life, Mental illness)

My partner and I married a year ago today.

We’ve lasted a year, which seems like a good start – although mostly it seems like not very long at all. I certainly don’t have the hang of it yet. (Maybe this time NEXT year. . .)

Overwhelmingly, marriage is easier than I expected. The first couple of months were scary, it’s true, but overall my partner has proved (again) that he is good at everything. His worst fault is his forgetfulness, the flip side of his very valuable calm. (He has ADD, and I have an anxiety disorder – which actually works pretty well in combination.)

Probably the things that will always need careful negotiation (one partner constantly giving in is bad) are how to deal with living together (where do you live? who cleans? how clean? where does stuff go? what happens with buying and preparing food?) and how to deal with finances. For me, the most important thing was that the house has to be tidy all the time (it helps me remember things, and lets me feel safe), and my partner had to do a reasonable amount of regular cleaning without being told (a mother-child relationship is never attractive). He’s got a LOT tidier over the last year, and I’m starting to get a bit messier (which is good). Our money isn’t great, but we do have savings now, which is pretty good considering I can only earn around $15,000 a year. He buys less stuff than he used to, and when he wants something enough to mention it I pretty much always agree that our budget can handle it – even if my spending habits pre-marriage were dedicated to survival (rent and bills, then petrol, then social obligations and minimal writing expenses, then food – nothing else).

Our home is a safe place for me, and I’ve never felt the panicky urge to get out (as in so many other share houses). Surprisingly, sharing a room has been quite easy – mostly because we are extremely respectful of each other (and he has his own extra room next door for all his messy/useless/old crap, which was a genius move on our part).

Before we married, I lived in a tiny flat that had fungus issues, poisonous water, and a leaking toilet. I was no longer able to support myself (with or without government benefits), because my mental illness robbed me of my self-control. In Jane Austen’s day, a woman needed to marry to gain her independence. That has been true for me as well.

I hate being financially dependent, and I struggle daily with my lack of novel publication, but marriage has given me a physical and metaphorical safe place where I can recover from the years that came before this, and grow back into being a reasonable sort of human. The worst part of our marriage is my mental illness, which blocks my positive emotions, limits my movements, and basically makes me selfish and inflexible (and also violent, it turns out. Since we now live together, he doesn’t get to miss seeing my worst moments, either). Fortunately my partner never questions me when I say I can’t do something, and is always gracious about instantly helping me in any way I ask.

Violence is never acceptable in any relationship, and (although I never hurt or intimidated him) if it happens again I’ll continue switching medication until it stops for good. He doesn’t think it’s serious, but I do. That’s a line I never thought I’d cross, and I will never accept in my marriage or anyone else’s. For any reason. But I *think* it’s over now I’ve switched contraceptive meds.

I was discussing fairy tales with a student the other day, and realised that there really is a little bit of truth in the idea of having a wedding at the end, followed by “happily ever after”.

Once you’re married, that’s it. Your old life is over, and a new one has begun. Whether it’s happy or not depends largely on who you are and how smart you are about communicating your heartfelt needs, and on finding happiness outside of your partner (who can never meet all your needs). But I think we’re biologically designed to devote our life and body to one person, and it takes a special person to be happily single.

I don’t see our marriage as permanent, though. Divorce isn’t an option (unless someone cheats or turns abusive), but this relationship is a gift. Our lives and marriage could change drastically or end at any moment. Next year might be just like this year, or it could be completely different. Nothing bad has happened to us yet, so I hope we can still treat each other well and support each other when something goes wrong. For now, though, “happily ever after” is quite a good description of married life.

I can’t imagine myself being able to survive marriage with anyone else.

PS a highly appropriate quote from the sleep talkin’ man: “Yeah, falling in love is WONDERFUL. Especially when it’s with me.”

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