An Open Letter to Anyone Who Thinks They Can Solve the Riddles of Marriage and Parenthood by Reading an Open Letter
Earlier this week, an article called “Marriage Isn’t for You” was posted by several friends and acquaintances on my Facebook newsfeed. It was sweet and syrupy and I immediately had a problem with it, which is not atypical for me because I have a very low threshold for syrup. But, my greatest issue with the piece was not the high-fructose tone, nor was it even the potentially harmful implication that one should be in or stay in any relationship for reasons other than wanting to. It was the idea that this guy had it all figured out. And that’s the problem with the influx of pieces like this, or that awful woman’s letter to the tween harlots on her sons’ Facebooks. It’s a problem rampant on Pinterest pages everywhere. It’s the idea that in 500 social media-friendly words or less, someone has cracked the code, someone has unlocked the mysteries. Someone has solved life.
I’ve been married for nearly three years to someone with whom I’ve been in a relationship for 11 years. And the one thing I’ve figured out is that no one has anything “figured out.”
The idea that life is a riddle just waiting to be solved is a nonsensical joke, requiring a logic so distant from the truth that it has a different zip code. Marriage is between two people, two people whose experiences and moods and lives are in constant flux, affected by external forces and hard days at work and kids and dairy and politics and bad episodes of favorite television shows. A pithy inspirational jpeg can’t give you the answers. A blog from a man claiming to have the answers can’t give you the answers. There are no answers.
The whole point of marriage or any committed lifelong relationship is a pledge to spend the rest of your life (or until such a point where you or that other person fucks things up past the point of forgiveness—I mean, some things should not be made to work, so take that, stupid Facebook pictures with 20,000 likes or more) as a team effort against the forces of life. My husband and I got married, not to make babies, not to make our parents happy, not to have a wedding, not just to be married, but to grasp each other’s hands, stand together and face whatever the world’s got for us. And, so far, not addiction, not teething, not flat tires, not the stomach flu, not post-partum depression, not running out of Diet Coke, not work stress, not tears, not shrinking my favorite sweater in the dryer, not eating his last brownie, not bills, not not having money for a while, not anything has beaten us. And anything we’ve learned along the way couldn’t have been gleamed from some condescending man’s blog, nor could we share them via our own blogs educating others with these helpful tips of how to better live your lives.
Everything you “figure out” in a relationship or as a parent is so specific to you, to your partner, to each specific child, to your dog (my dog demands more attention than my child does), that my “answers” probably could not serve as your personal life guide. Nor should they. No one’s should. Don’t forget, even that Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus guy got a divorce. No one knows the answers. There are no answers. Just live your life. Find out what works for you, for your relationship, for your kids, and do it.
There. There’s my advice. Stitch that shit on a pillow.