I needn’t go into all the reasons why, but a couple of weekends ago I had to go to the ER. Feel free to make one of them jokes about doing an x-ray of my head and not finding anything. About 3:30 on a Saturday morning, I got up, tried to find clothes in the dark, and attempted to sneak out before I woke Chuck up. The thing is, I’m not a neat person so there was much rustling about in piles of clothes and more than a little cussing. I think it was the cussing that woke him up. He asked if I was okay. Yes, I said. I’m going to the hospital. He asked if I could at least wait until he put on pants.
“Did you think I wouldn’t take you?”
And this is when it dawned on me that I still don’t get this marriage stuff.
Of course I knew he would take me. I knew I wanted him to take me. But it is not easy for me–even after almost six years–to say I’m hurt and I need help. I realized one of the reasons for this is that I believe I’m not supposed to think marriage is a big deal. We didn’t need to get married. We both had jobs, we weren’t planning on more children, we had no farm to run. Marriage was the paper that said I choose you. I choose you today, and I’ll choose you next year when you’re complaining about your knees. It was paper that said we’d stick together even when plotting ways to escape. And I foolishly thought that’s all there was to it.
Because I knew so many people who chose not to get married and so many people who couldn’t get married, I thought it was just a formality. I was so determined not to let marriage define me that I missed the point. The point of marriage is that it does define me. My life is inextricably linked to another’s. You don’t have to be married to have that, obviously, but you’d better have it if you are to be married. There is nothing I do which exists in a vacuum. Every grocery store trip, every sweater I buy, every meal I plan, trip I take impacts my Other. And just as I fret because The Man Who Never Gets Sick comes home and pukes his guts up, he frets when I’m up before dawn trying to sneak out to the ER. And he frets less about what’s wrong with me and more about why I won’t let him DO SOMETHING like drive me there.
My problem has been that I thought I was too cool for school. I thought I could be married and still be single. I don’t mean mess around with someone. I really don’t see the point in being married if you’re going to dip your nib in someone else’s India ink. I believed there was weakness in leaning on another. The thing I missed is that the extra support makes me stronger. It’s kind of simple, I know.
I guess what I want to say is that I’m formally rejecting Generation X’s position that marriage is just a piece of paper. I need my husband, and this is why I married him. This is why I will stay married to him. This is why I believe anyone should have the opportunity to be married. It is more than a piece of paper. I don’t give a rat’s ass that you think it’s an antiquated system of oppression. I’m over all that. Marriage matters. If people like me continue to downplay the importance of it, it just becomes more difficult to make the case that marriage should be for everyone. If it’s not important, what does it matter that couple over there can’t get married? You just said it was no big deal.
I got married because life made more sense with my husband than without him. It still does. My goal for this year is to say that more. You know– to him. And I want to work harder to make sure that one special person, that one person you want to annoy the rest of your life, can check the MARRIED box when you have to go to the hospital at 3:30 on a Saturday morning.