...and no hell like a bad one.
Once upon a time, my occupation was "family law attorney." That means I have seen many, many bad marriages. I must say that it made me appreciate my own wonderful husband more, but the work I did often left me wondering if we were the only happy couple left in America. Some days it seemed like I was drowning in a sea of other people's lies, infidelity and hostility.
Lately, though, I've noticed an opposite trend on Facebook. A number of friends and family members have been posting about their happy marriages. Not in a braggy way, or a grandiose, he-swept-me-off-to-Paris-for-the-weekend way. More like a vacation picture where the wife is smiling at her photographer husband with a look of pure abiding affection. A happy status update from a friend whose husband snapped and sent her pictures as he drove through Chicago because he knows she loves road trip pictures. Today is my cousin's eighteenth wedding anniversary, and he and his wife posted such sweet thoughts about it that you could just feel how connected they are, and know that eighteen years is just a warm-up for them. They are in it for the long haul, and they are feeling really good about it.
I'm feeling really good about it, too. I love having a marriage in which my husband and I complete each other's sentences and quote our favorite TV show (The West Wing) and movies (The Incredibles, The Shawshank Redemption) to each other. I love it that when he's getting us coffee, he pours mine first. I love being able to make lunch for him when he's running late in the morning so that he won't have to buy one.
I wish marriages like these for all my unmarried friends and family members. The movies are full of grand romantic gestures. Grand romantic gestures are wonderful, as long as they're not intended to distract from the fact that, day-to-day, things aren't all that great. Never marry someone who makes you feel bad about yourself. Never marry someone who says snarky things about you, and then says, "I was only joking," when you call them on it. Never, EVER marry someone who tells you how lucky you are to have them or that if they left you you no one else would want you. I don't care how spectacular the sex is or how much money they make.
I once had a boyfriend who, early in our relationship, brought me wonton soup when I had a cold. Nice enough. He brought it in an ambulance (he was a paramedic), lights and sirens blaring as he drove down my street. Grand gesture.
I let the big showy gesture blind me to other things. Like that he still shared an apartment with his ex-girlfriend. Who didn't like me spending the night because it made her uncomfortable walking around in her underwear. And the fact that my boyfriend's response to that was to walk me to my car before I left for the evening from then on. Most of the time.
Uh-huh. Would you believe that that relationship didn't end until he ended it? Not one of my prouder moments.
Marry someone that you put first because you want to, because he always puts you first. Marry someone who brings you soup when you're sick and doesn't make a big deal about it. Marry someone who looks at poor pitiful sick you, with your raw nose and your greasy hair and your ratty sweatshirt, and gets a moony look all over his face. Marry someone who makes you feel so beloved every day that when Valentine's Day rolls around, it doesn't really matter if you celebrate it or not. Marry someone who would pick up tampons or Preparation H for you without flinching.
Don't marry someone that you think you could live with for the rest of your life. Marry someone you can't imagine living without.