Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Thinking about marriage.

I was asked to perform a wedding ceremony; two of my former students asked me. It's a bit weird but I think I'm going to grill them first.

You need to seriously talk about expectations about money and house work. Have you done so? No? Let's do it now. Let's talk about sex--I don't want any specifics but do you both feel like you are happy with what is going on. No really, you need to talk about it now. Don't be wishy washy. Don't be embarrassed. Dude--you are about to sign a legal fucking contract that lasts for the rest of your life. You have to talk about these things. How do you feel about children? How secure does "financially secure" mean? How do you plan to go about earning this money. How will childcare be divided? How do you feel about breastfeeding? Circumcision? I don't need to approve of your answer but you need to agree.

Noah and I really sat and talked about this stuff before we got married. It shocks the shit out of me when I hear people say that they got married without discussing these things. Holy fuck. Why not?!

Do you agree about degree of religious involvement for your children? Do you have expectations about how your children will be educated? How do you feel about home ownership? How are you going to make that happen?

The Tracy Chapman song Fast Car is on most of my playlists. I think about the future and how to prepare for it.

Marriage at its best is when two people who could be ok by themselves come together to be more than they can be apart. It's not about dependency. Even if one partner does not have a job. If you do not have a job because you are taking care of children you have a responsibility to your family to maintain skills that will enable you to reenter the work force should something catastrophic happens to your husband. Being a stay at home mom is a luxury. It is great when you can afford it. You can't assume you will always be able to afford it. When your children are under five you have the sure fact of having to pay for day care if something happens to your husband's income and you have to work. It feels like "your" responsibility. Or even if you just want to return to work.

Do you think of money as a pooled resource or are you possessive about how much "I've" earned. Be honest. There is no possible benefit to answering falsely. You have to live with this forever. You have to find a solution that works for both of you or you will fight forever. Talk about it now. I mean, not necessarily in front of me. But go home and work it out before the wedding. Spend all your spare time talking about these topics.

It's important. This is your life. Do you want it to be one where things just kind of fall into place because you both have the same expectations or do you want to be constantly bitter that things aren't working out how you thought?

Where do you want to spend holidays?

How do you feel about travel? How do you feel about expensive hobbies?

I know everything is lovey dovey and perfect and shit. How would you react if _____ cheated? It happens in a high percentage of marriages. Y'all have been together since you were fifteen. Statistically such things happen. How would you treat it? Do you think you could live with, "You get one fuck up this marriage. You need to be honest about it. I'd prefer to know before/after." How do you feel about pornography? Violent sex. You don't have to tell me. You need to explicitly talk about this. If you think a little light spanking that is obviously between people who are giggling and having a good time sounds hot don't go along when she says, "Violence is disgusting/horrifying/always degrading/whatever." Tell the fucking truth. You have to live with this. Be who you are. "I want to be open to the idea of possibly not always being monogamous but I think I want to establish a really firm basis in our marriage first--like ten or more years. Let's get through the early part of the kids thing." Or whatever. I don't need to know the answer.

We are no longer in the position of needing to marry our neighbor to combine estates. We don't have to marry someone who will be good at working on the dairy we already own. In what ways do you support one another's in growing towards your best selves?

How do you feel loved the most? (even though it's cheesy I'll mention the five love languages crap.)

Both kids are up and clamoring for my lap. Ack. Joy.


  1. bookmarking this. if i ever get a life partner i want to have this discussion, hopefully you'll still be willing to arbitrate :)

    add something here, from my recent experience. what if one of us gets sick. what if it's expensive. debilitating. terminal. sucks up all financial and emotional resources. how much emotional care would the sick partner need. how much emotional care can the caregiver get, from other people if not from the spouse.

    i cant help but think that there could have been less resentment with my cousin's marriage, but i wonder if that was possible and if so how.

  2. At our wedding, the officiant - a Presbyterian minister although neither of us is religious at all - told us to fight like animals. Most animals fight with their own only to make a point and not to do damage.
    And I am a believer in the adage "don't go to bed angry at each other."

    1. I actually do better with going to bed angry. I will wake up not-angry and I will apologize. Otherwise I will scream all night long. :)