Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Road Taken: Marriage


In her New York Times article, Married (happily) With Issues , Elizabeth Weil wrote about her marriage and the journey she and her husband took through various forms of marital counseling.  Ms. Weil was thorough and revealing about her experience, and I felt like I was in group therapy again.  Only in group therapy can one participate as the lowest common denominator of lurker, and still come away with a sense of well-being, consoling oneself that at least you're not as crazy as those other people.  I read Ms. Weil’s piece with a growing sense of her frustration with her spouse, smug relief that my husband wasn’t such a nut, and the sure knowledge that my marriage would never survive such close working conditions as she described.

The article hit all the major pulse points of marriage, including the thrombosis-ridden, blocked arterial passageway of Passion and Intimacy.   In Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel, the author says that passion lives at the crossroads of stability and adventure, “Every person and every couple needs to find that balance."  I imagine an algebraic equation wherein two individuals, each with their own personal intimacy lexicon are juxtaposed (divided? integrated?) with the entity they agree upon to arrive at Couple:
  i+ i   = C
E   

Oh hell, I’m not a mathematician.  I’m an independent and solitary person who never expected much from marriage, certainly not that it would last as long as it has.  Perel says that intimacy doesn’t always lead to good sex.  Then is the opposite true?  My sex life with my husband seems to prove the point that good sex is possible without feeling especially close or in alignment with your mate.  We're going for more these days, bang or bust.  Allowing intimacy into my life in the form of my husband has been and will always be an ongoing experiment: we've never quite worked out the definitions of being a couple.  He said recently that he was committed to our marriage.  I'm not sure that's the same as being committed to me.


Intimacy at this point in our marriage is like coming out of heavy fog and seeing the true lay of the land. I’ve stayed on the road, but can’t help narrowing my eyes and trying to see what might have been at the end of the other path through the woods.

 Currently I like being married, but that hasn't always been the case.  Divorce seemed like the easy out in so many ways, but I like doing things the hard way sometimes.  I stayed in part because I was raised by a single mother and didn't want to follow her path.  What were the other parts?  The kids, good sex, autonomy.  Also, I married a decent man.

I hoped that someday the layers of resentment and defensive posturing would fall away, and that we could just love each other for the real people that we are.  That means the individual, not the couple, I think.

He says he doesn't like change. I'm more open to it. My openness had led to some risky adventures in my past. I treasure the memory of some, others not so much. He had a terrible case of kidney stones a few years ago, and all our intimate routines came to a halt. The "routine" aspect had been the cause of a bit of chagrin on my part, but with its total absence I reconsidered. I don't want to lose him or his sometimes perverse intractability. Rather than rail against that part of his personality, I now find it amusing and do what I want anyway.  I'd done this before in our marriage, but did it ferociously, justifying my actions with bitter anger.  Which took some of the fun away. Fun and laughter are important to me and I like a belly-laugh. He never engages in deep laughter, I'm not sure he knows how. There have been some changes: he seems to laugh more - with me, at me, I don't care.  

Change is in his nature no matter what he says. We're both the eldest child in our natal families, and we both fled our hometowns. We arrived in L.A. within a few years of each other, met and bedded, and the biggest adventure began: marriage.