My friend, John Mueller, got married without telling anyone until after the fact recently. I blogged about this before. I’ve been pondering marriage. As my friends know, I’m married and have been since October, 2004. This is my second marriage. The first took place in June, 1994 and last until July, 1997.

I’ve realized over the last year or so that I was kind of a shit of a husband the first time around. We were pretty young (22 for me and 20 for her) when we got married. I don’t think either of us really knew what we were getting into and we wound up married more because it was the expected thing than for any other reason. It didn’t end well though, in retrospect with some perspective, it didn’t go as far south as it seemed at the time or as badly as I have seen some marriages go. I certainly didn’t treat my wife well and I was probably pretty difficult in general to deal with. I’ve pretty much always been behind the curve in emotional maturity, which is not a good combination with a young marriage.

Looking at my current marriage, I’ve realized that marriage is hard work and that there is no roadmap for it. I’m not always the best of husbands. I get lazy or complacent and I take my wife for granted. It takes work to make a marriage really work and I’ve not always really lived up to my end of things. This isn’t done knowingly but if I honestly look at things, I can see it in my actions and thoughts. I don’t have a really good idea of what a successful marriage looks like in a lot of ways. What is “success” in marriage? I’ve seen all kinds of marriages. Some odd ones seem to work for some people but I’ve also learned that things may look like they are working to external parties when, really, they aren’t working at all. This all becomes apparent the day that things blow up.

For myself, I come from a classical broken home. My parents divorced when I was an infant (I actually don’t know how old I was but it was young) and I was largely raised by my single mother. Later on, she remarried but for much of my childhood, it was just she and I. My grandparents are still married and they love each other but there marriage has always seemed to be of the mold of an earlier generation. R’s parents have been married her whole life and she grew up with both of them together. R has never been married before either. Because of these, I think we’ve come into being married with a lot of unspoken (probably unconscious) expectations.

The most important thing, that I can see, for a marriage is communication and sharing together. This means shared time, shared priorities, shared goals. It is easy to forget this in the busy busy world that we live in, especially when each of us has our own careers and many interests that the other doesn’t share. It is easy for married people to fall into these ruts in their lives where they work and come home in the evening but don’t really focus on each other as they recover from a day at work or focus on various personal priorities. With my school work, my computer fun (like blogging and podcasts), and even just focusing on my Buddhist stuff or reading books, I’ve seen myself do this. Every so often, things remind me to pull my head up and look around. Hopefully, I learn a little when this happens and I realize that I’m not focusing on my marriage and R like I should be…

I love you, Rebecca. At the beginning and end of the day, it’s the two of us and I hope that it always will be.