I don’t know if this has ever occurred to you, but marriage is forever. Like forever-and-ever-until-you-die, forever. Pardon me while I clutch my stomach a bit. Last week we signed papers, and said the words in front our family. Now we’re back to reality, and the pressure of forever has been getting to me.
Instead of that hazy, floaty newly wed feeling, there have been night sweats. There’s been the occasional stomach-dropping anxiety that I’m not cut out for marriage, that having these thoughts at all means I’ve made a terrible, horrible mistake. I’ve taken the scenario to its extreme: I’m thirty, twice divorced with all the imagined baggage that comes with that. The serial monogamist who never makes it to the good stuff. I’m Ross Geller without the laugh track. Someone who finds love, but doesn’t have the goods to keep it. Eventually, I’ll be the older woman who took her entire youth to get it right: I’m Elizabeth Taylor. I’m my mother.
You see my first, youthful, carefree marriage was entered into blithely and blindly. It ended as easily as it began, with no fight and with no consideration. Even while logically I know now it was unwarranted, the shame of that divorce took a long time to work through. So to marry again, I needed everything to be different: mindful, serious, and with a will to work. I can’t, won’t be part of another failed union, and I’ve been letting my fear of failure define my tiny seed of a marriage.
Luckily, when it’s not just me lying awake in the middle on the night, the reality of forever isn’t actually all that daunting. It’s just her and me, brushing our teeth, making plans, and preparing for the storms we know surely will come. It’s life with the person who makes me happy, strong, and feel safe enough to confide my deepest, darkest “what ifs”–even if they’re ones that could derail our week-old marriage.
Turns out, my fear of forever has been all about me. About whether I’ve just set myself up for another round of shame and disappointment. About whether I can make it.
But here’s something amazing I’ve discovered. Yes, forever is huge and it’s daunting, but, get this: she’ll be there the whole time. I think that’s the best bit about marriage. Even when it feels long and difficult, you’ll never have to do it alone.