A Sappy Anniversary Post

by lauren atkinson

Five years ago, I committed myself to having the time of my life, for my whole life, with the best human that I have ever met. At least, that is my interpretation of our marriage vows. Little did I know, life doesn't always need to be a goddamned adventure to be absolutely wonderful. The below post is not meant to be an advice column, but more a brag on what I've learned in doing life alongside and sometimes with my husband.

Marriage is both practical and romantic. Some relationships consider only one part of that.

Marriage life for us is equal parts romance, fun, and practical. Just as you can be romantic with someone and have there be nothing practical about it or be married for practical reasons but feel no romance.. I'm lucky that I can have the romantic feelings of truly loving and caring deeply for someone but also having a practical partnership.

There have been times in our marriage that we've been lucky enough to not worry about material needs (money, food, housing) because we both have secure jobs. Then there have been really hard times where one of us is working and the other is not -- although those times weren't met with poverty, they were still tighter than we are used to. One thing I know about both of us, is that if one of us were alone and unemployed, we'd hustle to make sure we are ok. That's why when we are together and one of us is not making income -- it doesn't feel pressured. We can take care of ourselves financially, each of us, independently. 

But it's practical to have shared finances, in case something scary happens. It's also practical having two people's names owning something. 

Marriage is not about one person being the "better-half" You should both be whole people prior to getting married. The other person isn't there to "fix" you.

There is a common misconception that with a well-functioning marriage, it is required that one individual "fills gaps" or "completes missing pieces" of the other. That somehow, when you marry your partner, insecurities felt in your romantic past lives with other partners will somehow disappear. That your spouse "makes you feel beautiful" and that is incredibly important.

I'd like to propose something else. In a high-functioning marriage, individuals are strongly independent, can stand on their own but don't want to. They want to learn and continue to grow themselves in all skills, emotional maturities, all life experiences. There is nothing lacking in either person that the other needs to fill the gap to. There's no defined roles or assumptions. It's not someone's set responsibility to provide financially for the unit. Jesse doesn't need me, but he wants to do life alongside me. (I mean, I guess I can assume if we made it this long.)

Jesse and I make mistakes sometimes. (that should go without saying. EVERYONE makes mistakes.) But one thing I am quite proud of is that we've always been able to resolve any mishaps together, even if we could probably do it on our own. There have been plenty of times that I am confident given time and study, I can do something on my own. But if I work together with Jesse on whatever it is -- we accomplish the challenge faster together. Not due to me needing him, but we function well together. 

There's a quote that I heard in church sermons about marriage that would always make me angry. It's from the famous christian pastor James Dobson (Focus on the Family, etc.) "Don't marry the person you think you can live with; marry only the individual that you think you can't live without." On the surface, this sounds fairytale and romantic, but in reality you are assuming that either the individual you intend to marry is 1) a possession that you own or 2) you are a dysfunctional human that needs others to validate you. 

I understand that this probably wasn't the intent of Dr. Dobson, but I want to say:

Marry the person that you can do life with in full but also independently when necessary. That encourages you to grow as a person while you are growing together in experiences. Don't settle for someone that needs part of you and uses you as a crutch. Nor settle for someone that fills a part that you can't fill on your own. Learn to be a whole person on your own and look for someone that does the same. 

Or, marry as you think is best. I'm just saying that this marriage I am in: it's pretty great. And I think we've got something going on. Anyway, Happy Anniversary to the best.