First of all… you have to know what you’re getting into. This is more than just a roommate, more than just a booty call. This is a partnership, one that in other times and on other parts of the planet is intended to last a lifetime.
Consequently… it requires a certain amount of working space, and certain essential ingredients.
If you were planning a lifelong thing, then love is kind of a prerequisite. It’s one of the few things we can count on to keep us from plotting murder when we REALLY get on each other’s nerves, which WILL HAPPEN at some point or another. It will. Really. Show me a couple who claims to love, love, love each other, every minute of every day, and I will show you a news clipping or video byte where the neighbors are weeping and talking to the news people as the house burns in the background, saying stuff like, “They were so quiet,” and “They loved each other so much, I can’t believe one of them finally nutted out and killed the whole family like that.”
Y’see, actual human beings don’t work like that. We are a combination, here, part mystic spiritual/psychic/intellectual essence that can handle E=MC2 and the Nature Of God, and higher philosophy and greater mathematics…
…and part monkey. Not just any monkey, but a certain hair-deprived, smelly, sweat-stained, remarkably EARTHY kind of monkey.
And certain monkeys lose their &%$#@ MINDS when you leave the toilet seat up once too often. Or don’t put the pliers back on the pegboard. Or leave that empty milk glass out long enough to get the crust in the bottom. Or don’t oil the chainsaw before you put it back in the case.
LOVE will not put a stake through that monkey’s heart. YOU are that monkey, and so is your loved one, and JUST BECAUSE YOU WOKE UP ONE DAY AND REALIZED IT… does NOT mean you are no longer in love.
Love is what makes you wanna stick WITH that monkey, even though he swore he’d clean the toilet and then forgot to. Five times running, now.
Love is not indestructible. It can be erased. It can be eliminated. It can simply… die. Usually of neglect. KEEPING that love up and functional and operational is possible, of course. It’s also frankly kinda necessary, if you expect “marriage” to be more than a transitory state you find yourself in occasionally with a string of different people. The trick is that YOU have to realize it… and your PARTNER has to realize it… and you BOTH get to WORK at keeping it going, all the days of your lives.
Sometimes this is easy, especially when you’re both fresh out of the shower, and the bank account is full of money, and the kids are out of the house, and my GHOD, don’t you smell GOOD…
…and other times, it is more difficult. It is those difficult times that require the most effort.
But this one thing is so important, I’m gonna say it again. YOU BOTH must realize the necessity of KEEPING love alive… and you BOTH must work at it. You BOTH get to work at delighting one another, loving one another, and occasionally leaving one another the hell alone to have some space. If you both realize it, and agree on it, and communicate about it…
…no, you’re not done. But you do get to move on to the next level.
Gotta have it. Without it, you’re doomed as a couple/partnership/whatever.
Y’see, when the bank account is full and life is good, trust comes naturally. When you’re fresh and new and in love and the Pink Cloud is in full force, trust simply isn’t an issue. Where else would you rather be than in your beloved’s arms? NOT a problem!
…but life ain’t like that. Life operates in cycles, in rhythms. Sometimes it sucks, and sometimes it blows, so to speak. When life is peachy… well… all that really means is that you both have to work very little at keeping your marriage healthy and your love alive. Hell, it’s EASY to be loving and supportive and happy when all’s well!
…and if YOUR life is always peachy… well, then, it’s been a better life than mine.
Trust is when your loved one has been out considerably later than you thought would be the case, and your loved one has been talking about this person of the opposite sex they met at work… and you can ignore that part of your mind that’s screaming CHEATING! at you. Well, maybe not ignore, but not believe. Much.
It’s okay to be a little insecure. Goes with being a monkey, really.
…but trust should be earned. One’s partner should be WORTHY of trust, and not abuse it. A partner that requires too MUCH trust… well… that’s a person who, sooner or later, will find himself understocked on the stuff. You shouldn’t NEED your partner to trust you TOO much… and vice versa. Keep your trust supply well-stocked, for when you DO need it. Again, this is something BOTH partners should understand, agree with, and WORK at.
Well, you knew we were getting here. First, a few facts, just to nail down a baseline:
(a) Men peak, sexually, around age eighteen, and begin to drop off gradually, and then sharply, as they enter their thirties.
(b) Women, on the other hand, don’t really peak sexually until their late twenties to mid-thirties.
©This means that men can screw like wild animals, all night, as teenagers, which is precisely the time they should NOT be doing so, whereas women are becoming totally sexual creatures about the time the men are discovering they have a favorite chair.
(d) This is considered proof positive, by some theorists, that life is NO goddamn fair.
But we digress. The only point that can really be made about sex is that in the early points of any sexual relationship, there will be a lot of sex. Gradually, the amount of sex will drop off. Eventually, it will end, usually with the breakup of the relationship or the death of one of the participants.
Yeah, well, you knew that.
In addition, there will be times when one partner wants sex that the other does not. Traditionally, the guy is the one wanting sex and the woman not, until we cross that particular point mentioned above, where the two sides flipflop, and it’s the WOMAN who’s hot to trot all the time.
…and it’s amazing how many people think this is the other partner’s fault. There is a great tendency, sexually, to want to blame the other participant when things are not going as one wishes, either in the amount of sex happening, or in the quality of that sex.
This brings us to the fourth point.
In short, TALK about it.
And the flip side of this: LISTEN TO YOUR PARTNER.
And you have to do BOTH. Whether you want to or not. And you have to do it when your partner NEEDS you to do it, not when you’re really capable of it.
This is where marriage can really get shitty. You can tell your partner to go take a goddamn hike if you don’t want to have sex right now… but if your partner needs to talk, and you don’t want to listen right now, you are playing with fire, bud, while standing up to your kneecaps in dynamite. You are taking BAD chances with the future of your marriage, and you need to get OVER yourself, right now.
Note also that the reverse is also true. When YOU NEED TO TALK, then your partner NEEDS to drop everything and PERK UP THOSE EARS, and listen.
For some reason, the inability of a great many people to do this leads to nasty-ass fights in the course of a marriage. It’s worth noting, however, that when the “making up” part involves lots of affection and/or sex, then the fight wasn’t really a FIGHT so much as simply a demand for attention, recognition… and a good “listening to,” session. One should also be very aware of when one might be wrong, and be ready to admit that, and so on, and so on.
It’s better, though, if the “listening” session can take place without the fight. Admittedly, sometimes fights are GOOD – blowing off steam, and tension, and all that – but sometimes things get said that can’t be unsaid later. One should be aware of this, and stay clear of that tendency, and deal with it in a more workable fashion. Like, say, talking and listening, as opposed to calling each other “whore” and “junkie bastard” and flinging priceless family heirlooms at each other’s heads.
Which brings us, finally, to the key at the heart of it all.
I knew a woman once, who had a perfect marriage.
Her husband was basically in charge of everything except household matters. She deferred to his judgment and will in ALL things. If he said it, then it must be right. There were no arguments, because there was nothing to argue ABOUT, because how can you argue with someone if he’s always right?
In short, the marriage worked because she was completely and totally subordinate to him. Only the things that HE wanted mattered.
Things were great until she found out, after their children were grown, that he was sneakin’ down to the Boom-Boom Room and playin’ hide the salami with a twenty-year-old topless dancer there.
At that point, she realized that she wasn’t happy, and hadn’t really been happy for some thirty years. HE was doing just fine, obviously. He got his needs met. He was heard, listened to, respected. He was peachy.
She wasn’t, and after filing for divorce and cleaning him out, she wasn’t much happier, but had learned a valuable lesson: Subordination in marriage works great, but it has to be mutual.
It’s actually fairly simple, although it sounds complicated.
You both type out copies of the following document. You read it aloud to each other. Then you sign each others’ copies, and stick 'em in a safety deposit box, like a contract…
…and then you spend the rest of your lives living up to those contracts.
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
I, ____________________, hereby declare my total slavish subordination to the will and happiness of my beloved _____________________. I do so of my own free will, because I know that my beloved ___________________ will hear me, listen to me, care for me, love me, and do everything they can in the pursuit of my happiness.
You know what? If you both take it seriously… and you both really work at living up to it… and you both communicate about it, both the easy and fun parts and the hard or sticky parts…
Anything to add, anyone? Or contest?