According to the website we set up to collect wedding RSVP’s, Jordan and I have been married 124 days. Within those 124 days, I have been asked “So How’s Married Life?” 268 times. That’s a rough approximation, but it has to be close. There’s one problem with this, though: despite being asked 268 times, I still don’t have an answer to this question.
I’ve been trying and trying to come up with one. “Good” isn’t quite accurate: it only encompasses one broad, vague aspect of what’s going on within this arrangement, and anyway it’s not a very interesting answer. But just because it’s not “good” doesn’t mean it’s “bad,” which of course is totally wrong and a terrible way to move forward with small talk.
Words like “Tricky” and “Enlightening” and “New” get a lot closer to the real answer, but the conversation rarely goes well after I say something like that—eyebrows furrow and a look of panic crosses the eyes of the poor sap who wasn’t really looking to have this conversation, and I wind up backtracking to assure whoever I’m talking to that my husband and really do love each other and are having a good time, really, and wondering once again why I don’t just stick with the answer “good” when people ask me this damn question.
“How’s married life?” is turning out to be the third-hardest question I’ve ever had to answer, right behind “So what do want to do when you grow up/once you graduate/after the wedding?” and “You’re Jordan’s girlfriend, right?” in between breaking up with one Jordan and starting to date another. (I answered that one with “Depends, which Jordan are you talking about,” and yes, my life is a sitcom, in answer to another question you were wondering.)
It’s not that married life isn’t good. It’s that a lot more than just “good,” more than can be explained quickly or neatly or, sometimes, in polite company. I can’t think of the right answer to this question because there are too many answers, all of them true but none of them fully encompassing the right answer in and of themselves.
Here’s a sampler of just a dozen. In the last 124 days, married life is:
– Sharing everything. Not just apartment space or chores or roommate stuff, but everything. A bed. A bedtime. A bank account. A laundry hamper. Weekly schedules. All the food in the fridge (including that slice of pizza that I thought was mine, guess not). I don’t think I’ve been this much in sync with another person since getting my driver’s license. I didn’t have to be. Now I do.
– Coming home to debrief from work and having someone there who will automatically take your side. They have to, because they don’t know anyone else from your work—or, even if they do, they love you best.
– Sleeping naked. Reading naked. Hanging about the apartment naked. This space is our realm now. We make the rules, and the rules no longer require pants.
– Hashing out the crush you have on that dude at work with your husband. So that’s different.
– Having zero secrets. See last two above.
– Feeling like your spouse is being ridiculous about this and just needs to apologize, dammit…then feeling petty and childish for being so worked up about this when they do.
– Experiencing an irrationally heightened sense of sadness when you discover the person who’s supposed to be your soulmate doesn’t share your appreciation for That book, game, movie, artist, or other Really Important Thing. I’m still wrapping my head around Jordan’s apathy towards the Muppets. And I’m grateful he didn’t divorce me upon discovering my “meh” attitude towards Firefly.
– Having a built-in date to every other event you’ll ever be invited to.
– Counting impromptu nights out as “dates that will ultimately strengthen your marriage” rather than just “spending time/money we may or may not have,” thus making the whole endeavor more justifiable.
– Gritting your teeth and bearing mostly terrible advice from every single person who finds out you’re a newlywed. (Protip: can you replace the words “wife” and “husband” with “mother” and “eight-year-old” and have your advice still make sense? If so, then you’re not giving marriage advice, you’re giving parenting advice. I’m not interested. Goway.)
– Having every decision you make affect another person. I guess technically, in the Butterfly Effect sense, that’s always true, but marriage makes that truth extremely apparent. This person is your family that you made, you two are responsible for this plus any other people you may make later, your well-being depends on theirs and vice-versa. No pressure.
– Having the day end with my favorite person not only still around in the apartment, but in the same room, in the same place, right next to me.
“How’s married life?” It’s these things, plus a bunch of other stuff that I’m sure I’ll run into tomorrow, and next month, and next year. It’s an answer whose tone changes daily depending on what my husband or I did or didn’t say upon heading out the door. It’s not a very good small talk starter, really, unless you’re ready to listen to a detailed and all-too-personal answer.
But 124 days in, it is interesting. It is enlightening. And it is good.