I usually have a quiver of posts in my drafts folder, just waiting to interest me enough to finish them. Labouring away at the bakery this afternoon yielded some solid writing, but I wasn’t really motivated to publish it, so put it aside and contemplated what I could do with a whole evening of being single.
And a new post is born into the silence of a quiet apartment.
I should explain. Ever since I met my man, I’ve come to realise, through casual conversation and subtle observation, that I am part of a rather unique marriage. Of course, in the early days, I tried my best to remake it into the shape of marriages I knew – gleaning proper behaviour from a back catalogue of romantic movies, family examples, celebrity rumours, church culture and Victorian novels.
And on those days, in the midst of a silly fight, my husband would look at me, and ask one simple question: “Who are you talking to right now, babe? He seems like a jerk.”
The swarm of preconceptions and self-imposed disciplines (perfect host and housewife, unceasingly amorous bedfellow, etc.) would suddenly dissapate, and I’d look again at the man I married, and breathe a sigh of relief.
I am a creationist in the most human of senses: I firmly believe that every person on the planet is unique, and therefore, every relationship they form with another totally singular individual will be utterly different from any other relationship. It’s the same creative force that drives us forward into publishing millions of cookbooks, arranging thousands of bouquets, reworking a handful of alphabetical symbols into an endlessly new stream of words and ideas.
So as much as sociologists would like to say that I am a product of my past, my heritage, my culture, my expectations, my environment and my physiology, I still have that most human of attributes that allows for the creation of something new: unpredictability at what I will make of it all.
Likewise, my marriage is something of an anomaly born out of the union of two rather anti-status, off-the-wall individuals. As such, when I am asked for advice from the outside looking in on a pretty sweet little thing, I hesitate, knowing that whatever morsels of wisdom I may be pompous enough to dispense, I am still only speaking from my own unique experience of a marriage, and therefore, probably don’t have anything universal to say.
Now that I’ve completely undermined the purpose of this post, which is give some advice on marriage, let’s begin.
Perhaps it would be safer to say that this thing I’m about to expound on, is a helpful tool for anyone, married or not, to keep peace and sanity in long-term relationships. There. I’m not annoying generalist telling you how to fix your marriage, but rather, a self-actualized relationship columnist, ready to take on the likes of Emily Post and Dr. Phil.
I’m sitting here in a quiet apartment. I haven’t seen my husband since this morning, and won’t see him again till tommorrow night. For 48 hours, I’m essentially single. And this is good news. For no matter how long I’ve been lonely, dreaming of and finally becoming accustomed to the sweetness that is waking up to a life companion most mornings, being single for a few hours, or a few days, or even, a few weeks, can really help me be good at being married.
Being apart helps me do the togetherness thing really well.
It takes a long time for your brain, especially a single-minded brain like mine, to get used to the idea that you are not alone anymore. From decision making to late-night scares in the hallway on the way to the washroom (Me: AAAAAAUGH. BIG SCARY FIGURE IN THE DARK, BLOCKING MY PATH TO MY BEDROOM. My man: It’s just me, your husband, remember? I live here too.), the transition from “alone” to “accompanied” takes awhile to sink in. And there were plenty of times, early in, that I ached for singlehood: the chance to buy whatever I wanted without having to bear the burdens of rent and a suddenly unemployed spouse, the freedom of making stupid decisions that affected no one but myself. Even down to the little things, like going to bed because the other person is tired, or showing up to a party because you’ve been invited and are expected as a couple, would sometimes spur me to fantasize about getting into our car and driving away over the rainbow into my lost singlehood, and never coming home. Of course, I only had access to said car because it was my husband’s. But it was nice to dream. The dangerous thing about dreams like that, dreams we turn to in moments of escape, is that they can remain unreal, and better-looking than if we are able to act them out safely, and with wisdom. Much better to spend a day now and then remembering what being alone is like than realise after a lifetime of enforced togetherness, that all you want to do is leave, and then find out the reality is nothing like the dream you’ve squirrelled away with all your unfelt feelings.
The opposite is equally dangerous. Haven’t we all met couples who can’t stand to be apart from one another, ad naseum? I wonder if one day, they’ll forget who they are as individuals, and have nothing new to share with one another. It’s a kind of possesiveness that I don’t envy, needing to be with someone all the time, to ensure that your love is still real. I miss my husband right now, but this little window of singleness allows me some reflection time. I know exactly what I miss about being together with him, and appreciate it all the more, as well as experiencing the underwhelming relief of being alone that I sometimes crave when marriage cramps my style and togetherness is complicated.
So tonight, as I sit here solo, fiddling about an empty house, eating way too much chocolate, and remembering what it feels like to be alone, I am mindful of this: that tommorrow night, I’ll be happy to have someone steal the blankets, leave the dishes on the table unwashed, drop my favourite salami on the floor by accident, and snuggle up to me in the morning when I really should be getting out of bed for work.