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What Marriage Is Really Like

February 3rd, 2012  |  by  |  Published in Uncategorized  |  4 Comments

Last night, while we were sitting on the couch after dinner, Jean turned to me and said, “I think I’m going to have a shower.” Actually, she didn’t turn to me. She was looking at something—maybe the TV, maybe a magazine. I’m not really sure, because I was looking at something, too, maybe the TV or a magazine. (Ooh, New York‘s breakdown of celebrity incomes!) A few minutes later, she said it again, with a slight variation: “I’m going to take a shower.”

She did not get up and take a shower.

I mean this not as a portrait of two people in their late 30s who have a boring life. That post will go up next week, and it will be about Theodore. No, my point is this: At that very moment, I realized I’d married a Twitter feed, and that Jean had married one too.

When you’re married, you say pretty much whatever’s on your mind, whenever you feel like it. What you want for breakfast, what you had for breakfast after your partner left for work, what you found stuck in the pocket of that jacket that was at the back of the closet for two years, what the kid did or didn’t do on the way to school—all the inconsequential bullshit that we hide from the people with whom we didn’t enter into a legal (and possibly religious) pact to love and cherish until, inevitably, we die. Except, of course, when we reveal that inane crap to our Twitter followers, the only people other than our spouses who could possibly care about every errant thought that passes through our minds.

This is not a criticism—not at all! (As we say with evil glee in my family, it’s not a criticism—it’s an observation.) In fact, it’s probably good for a marriage, in two ways:

1. We feel comfortable enough around each other that we can express trivialities without fear of embarrassment or mockery, knowing that our honesty, however banal, counts for something.

2. The mere fact of these communications binds us to each other, in the same way that after following someone’s shitty Twitter feed for months and years makes you feel like you know them, even if it’s just because you remember that time they got dried blackberries on their oatmeal or Twitpic’d the back of Jerry Seinfeld’s head. These little things on their own are to be ignored, but in total they form the contours of a life.

There’s also something to be said for the brevity of the observations, both on Twitter and in marriage. These are not grand monologues of triviality, to be attended to with open ears and alert minds, but instead blips, moments of amusement or information that require no investment but which connect us, bit by bit.

Anyway, this is a lot of metaphysics to lay upon the 140-character bane of our existence, supported by one boringly simple observation, but there it is: Your spouse is a crappy Twitter feed, one you have no choice but to follow. And vice-versa. #tilldeathdoyoupart


Responses

  1. Michael says:

    February 3rd, 2012at 11:06 am(#)

    I do believe that marriage and kids changes relationship in small ways: you delve into the minutia of a twitter feed, your kids become characters that you talk about endlessly and, of course, the passion is harder to conjure up not just out of familiarity but because of the exhaustion of parenting, but there is another phenomenon that is rarely discussed but is equally important: how well-informed each of us and yet we do so little with that knowledge. Our intake is huge yet are we making long-distance phone calls to good friends, having large communal dinners and spending our days exchanging ideas? It’s a scary proposition that we have become isolated in our own relationships due to information overload.

    Or not.

  2. Matt says:

    February 3rd, 2012at 11:10 am(#)

    Good points, I think, although at the same time I do use Facebook to spend much of my days exchanging ideas (stupid ones, usually), and I have communal dinners fairly regularly. I like it that FB lets me keep tabs on nearly 1,000 friends around the world. Much as I’d like to have long-distance phone calls with each of them every day, it’s impossible. Following the FB and Twitter feeds, and speaking with them occasionally, often in person and in their own cities and countries, doesn’t feel like I’m sacrificing human contact—it feels like a step forward.

  3. Chris C says:

    February 3rd, 2012at 12:41 pm(#)

    Um, she wanted you to join her. Really been married that long that you missed it?

    Correct answer should have been “sounds great, want some company?”

    Chris

  4. Christa the BabbyMama says:

    February 6th, 2012at 9:39 am(#)

    Love this way of describing marriage. It’s so true. Unfortunately, my husband then answers my minutia with a mmmrmph sound and I’m wondering did he hear me? Does he have an opinion? Is he listening?! I need to chill out…

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