There has been a lot of buzz the past few days about Seth Adam Smith’s recent blog post entitled “Marriage Isn’t For You.” Take a look at the article if you aren’t one of the 20,000 people that already have. From the thousands and thousands of Facebook shares with a “Hell yeah!” comment posted with the link, I think I’m somewhat in the minority in that I just don’t agree with his message at all. Even a little bit. The quote, “You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy,” just strikes me as all sorts of wrong. Everything I was brought up with taught me that marriage is a partnership that you want to be a part of because you make each other happy, not to blindly serve. And while the idea of being married to someone who did whatever I said just to keep me happy has some bright spots – as in, I would totally never, ever wash any silverware or take out the garbage again – the reality is I would have a lot of trouble respecting someone who didn’t value their own happiness or opinion.
However, every marriage is different and what works for some doesn’t work for others. What some women couldn’t deal with, others relish. What some women love, others don’t understand. Some men have to be protectors, some women find that overbearing. For every woman who wants a sensitive man, there’s another one that cringes when her date bursts into tears at the movies. To me, this article sounds like a justification, an attempt at explaining, “Well, no, I’m not happy, but I’m not supposed to be as long as she is.” But I am not part of Seth’s marriage, so if it works for him and his wife, I’ll try not to judge too much.
That being said, I feel like if I weren’t married yet, this would confuse the fuck out of me. Like, if we’re both only trying to make each other happy, how does anything get done? It would be a constant loop of “Whatever you want,” “No, whatever YOU want,” until you’re both ready to scream, “I don’t care just pick a goddamn restaurant before we both starve to death!” I met my husband at the tender age of 20, when I was still too young and stupid to have any concept of what marriage actually entailed and he was still naïve enough to think that I was actually going to keep looking like that. We’ve been married for over nine years and haven’t killed each other or our pets and still laugh a lot, so I think we’re doing okay, and this makes us pretty lucky. But for those of you still wondering if you’re with the right person, here’s a test. Do all of the below things, together. If you’re both still standing and aren’t actively plotting each other’s demise, you’re ready to get married.
Move a Couch Up Three Flights of Stairs. Bonus Points for Narrow Stairways.
Here’s the thing. There are people that can move shit and there are people that cannot. You and your partner? Will be one and the other. One of you is a planner, plotter, and thinker. That’s me. “Okay. Well, if we tilt it at this angle, then lift that side over the railing, and then completely flip it over, it will go smoothly.” The other is spontaneous. His thought process is this: “Pick up couch. Move up stairs. Fucking done.” Railings, ripped fabric, the person trapped against the wall trying to help – these things are of no consequence or importance to him. If you could harness your thoughts and talents together, the couch moving would probably go smoothly, because you’re both a little bit right and a little bit wrong at the same time. However – and this is always, always true – there is no giving in to the possibility that the other person is right once you start moving the couch. Being right somehow morphs into being more important than actually getting the couch up the stairs, and you would be more willing to cut it in half and throw it away than admit your way won’t work.
Get the Stomach Flu at the Same Time. With One Bathroom.
If you can survive this, you can survive anything. Nothing strips your pretenses and dignity like lying on the floor outside the bathroom, spouting lies such as, “I brought you a 7-UP!” while trying not to vomit on the cat.
Pack for a Trip.
Travelling brings out the worst in a lot of people. Packing brings out the worst in most. One half of a couple are economical packers, trying to fit as much as possible in a small carryon suitcase so as not to pay the baggage fee, optimistically thinking they will only need one pair of shoes and a couple of mix and match outfits. They think they are a lot more organized than they actually are. The other will need to be prepared for any possible situation, including but not limited to meeting the Pope, taming a tiger, being interviewed on television, playing on a organized sports team, scuba-diving, extreme heat, extreme cold, tsunami, blizzard, tropical storm, and mountain climbing. You will each secretly mutter about what an idiot your partner is. You will both forget to bring more than one pair of socks and stare at each other, uncomprehending, when one of you dresses in black tie for dinner and the other is wearing their bathing suit.
Get Lost. Literally.
Tread carefully on this one, friends. Technology has had many evolutions in the last fourteen years and none of them have improved our sense of direction, so we’ve gotten lost a lot of different ways. Getting lost while following a map is actually much easier and less rage-inducing than getting lost while using turn-by-turn navigation on your smart phone, and here’s why. When you get lost following a map, you don’t have a lot of choices. You pretty much have to pull over and ask for directions. When you get lost following the turn-by-turn directions, someone is always and clearly at fault because obviously, the technology knows more than either of you. Worse, the navigation system makes everyone involved feel as though it will be simple to backtrack and easily find your destination. It gives you a false sense of security. Here’s a tip – the navigation system is a dick. The navigation system will make you yell such nonsense as “Turn left 300 yards ago! Aren’t you listening? Idiot!” while the driver aggressively pulls a U-turn in front of a semi-truck out of defiance; daring the navigator to criticize his driving. At this point, the driver already has seventeen responses at the ready, just waiting for the slightest provocation. He is a pot waiting to boil over, a powder keg ready to explode so that when the navigator says brightly, “Hey, there it is!” the driver can’t help but respond with something along the lines of, “Oh, you fucking think so, don’t you? Is that it?! IS IT?!?!?!?! Are you sure you don’t need me to keep driving right into this fucking lake like you wanted me to before, fucking Magellan???”
I think it’s a pretty fair test. If you can do all of these things without taking a hostage or hitting your partner with a shoe, you’re totally ready for marriage.