I am a chronic illness warrior who is always on the lookout for scientifically proven ways to support natural wellness.
It never made sense to me when people described marriage as “work.”
It still doesn't. When I married my husband in the summer of 2013 I was sure I was going to be the one wife on the planet who had it nailed from day one. The house would always be clean. I’d magically be able to cook. (I grew up vegetarian, he grew up carnivorous. Another story for another day.) I’d always greet him at the door with a sweet smile, ready to hear about his day. That 1950’s housewife dream hit the fan so fast it would make your head spin.
Honestly, “work” didn’t describe the experience of my first few months of marriage in any meaningful way. It felt much more like living from one catastrophe to the next. The second month we were married, my husband managed to get a very impressive concussion while taking me to the eye doctor. He hadn’t hit his head that hard, didn’t think anything of it and went on with his day. A few hours later he was curled up on the couch barfing every time he opened his eyes. Like a competent wife I assumed it was the flu, crammed him full of NyQuil, tucked him in on the couch and hoped it would go away by morning. It did not. He awoke, not remembering hitting his head, and speaking perfect sentences, only backwards. At the doctor when we found it was a concussion, I realized what a miracle it was that I hadn’t just offed my husband right out of the gate. It did prove to be a hilarious, as my typically very calculating husband’s brain and mouth somehow detached from each other. I took him to visit his parents while he was recovering and when his dad innocently asked “How’s marriage treating you?” he uttered the now immortal worlds “Well, it’s a good system.”
Another complicating factor in the early days of our marriage was our lack of money. Well, it wasn’t that we didn’t have money. It was that my sweet husband was on a mission to get us both through college debt free. We certainly had money. We just couldn’t use it. This, combined with our lack of Netflix produced some really bizarre dates. There was a canal near our house and when the few inches of water in the bottom of it froze, we’d go “ice skating.” We didn’t have internet or air conditioning, so we found the Fred Meyer furniture section very conducive to a good joint homework session.
Our favorite pastime, however, was test driving cars. Our little town doesn’t offer much in the way of parks, hiking or free entertainment so we took to hitting up the local car dealerships “in search of a new vehicle for a family of two.” A complete ruse, as we weren’t going to spend any of either of our college funds. We discovered, however that if you went so far has to sit in the big fancy office and haggle with the salesperson they typically provide you free beverages. (Both the cars and dealerships also provide air conditioning free of charge.)
My husband loves to be outdoors, so we did spend a lot of time walking the wild animal refuges, fishing and occasionally duck hunting. Since we didn’t have a dog at the time, my in-laws bought us an inflatable canoe so we could retrieve our own fallen waterfowl. Let me tell you, if you don’t think you need marriage counseling, get in an inflatable canoe with your spouse.
We’ve only been married five years at this point, and as of right now, I’m still not convinced that “work” is the right word (at least for my marriage). “Work” is something you leave every day after 8 hours. You may even clock out for lunchtime or weekends. Try that in marriage and yours may be brief. “Work” is typically something for which you are paid. If you extract any type of emotional “payment” from your spouse for putting up with them, your marriage will be miserable. So while it may not be “work” it can be hard. And weird. And exhausting. And hilarious. And so very worth it.