**This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events that I have experienced firsthand; used with permission.
We all have our own perceptions of what marriage is really like. Some of us have our own experiences of marriage, sometimes many times over. And some of us have no interest in ever getting married at all.
I’ve been married twice and there are definitely some preconceived ideas I had about marriage that turned out to be completely wrong.
Marriage is just a piece of paper
Yes, technically marriage is the signing of papers. When the ink is dry you are supposed to love each other till death do you part. Period.
All my years as a single woman were spent telling people who were married that marriage is simply a piece of paper and that a piece of paper cannot help bind a person to you or prevent them from cheating on you or breaking your heart.
However, once you are actually married and you go through the consolidation of all your stuff together, you realize that marriage itself is not only a physical commitment but it is also a lot of paperwork you may not have anticipated.
Marriage isn’t just about one piece of paper, it’s about many, many pieces of paper over many years.
If you’ve decided to change your name to your spouse’s last name, you then need to change your identification cards, passports, and all those kinds of things that are a pain in the derriere.
If you end up getting divorced, a lot of those things need to be changed back again and I won’t even get into the trials of changing names on bank accounts, mortgages, etc. It’s not fun.
So yes, marriage is not just a piece of paper. Marriage often involves a laborious paper trail of name changes and asset mergings that are not easily accomplished. The technical aspects of merging a life together are not as easy as it seems in the movies. You don’t just ride off into the sunset willy-nilly.
Marriage is only for people who don’t want to be alone
I always had the idea that people who got married were just sad and lonely souls. I thought that those people had a problem with being alone and they needed a companion to be with them 24/7.
I discovered that this wasn’t necessarily the case.
It is possible to be married or in a long-term relationship with a partner and still have your alone time. I am a solitary person by nature and if I don’t get my alone time I get grumpy and irritated.
My husband happens to be the same way.
And so, within our marriage, we have times where we do things together and then we have times where we do things apart because that’s what we need in order to come back to the relationship feeling refreshed, recharged, and satisfied.
While I think it is true that many people require a lifelong companion because they don’t like being alone, I also think it’s true that two very independent, solitary individuals can come together and build a partnership based on a loving compromise between being together and also having that time apart too.
Marriage is 50/50
I’m not even sure where this idea came from that marriage is an equal partnership, — 50/50 all the time — but it’s inaccurate, to say the least.
Marriages are more like 30/70, 60/40, and even 20/80 at times. There are even going to be instances when marriage is literally 0/100!
Human beings are all different from one another in many varying and glorious ways. Giving 100% effort to your relationship all of the time is literally impossible.
There will be good days when you feel like you give 70% — 90% to your marriage and there will be days when you feel like you have absolutely nothing to give to your marriage. The same thing goes for your partner.
It all just depends on the day, the mood, the circumstances, or even just your energy levels at any particular moment.
Those rare moments in a marriage where each partner brings an equal or close to an equal amount of effort into the relationship are the highlights. But that is not the reality of the day-to-day life of a marriage. Not at all. People should not expect a marriage to be like that.
Marriages often fail because people go into relationships thinking everything needs to be equal and the amount of effort brought forth needs to be at a certain level every single day. It’s just not possible or realistic.
Marriage is a combined mix of effort, flaws, successes, and failures all rolled into one lovely, messy, joyful, miserable, unique tapestry of the life shared by two people.