One Month of Marriage Has Taught Me That Forever Isn’t Real

Lessons from four weeks in

I have never really been the type of woman to believe in “forever.”

I didn’t sit around and dream about white dresses as a little girl. I didn’t doodle “Mrs. Anjali Whatever” when I got in relationships as a teenager. And I definitely didn’t think that the idea of one person forever was “natural.” After all, we don’t expect one person to fulfill us forever in any other area of life—except romance. We expect to have lots of different friends to fulfill our different emotional needs. We expect to switch jobs or positions when we grow out of what we’re currently doing. We expect to go on different vacations and experience different places for their different charm.

But yet, with romance, we expect to find one person that we’ll work perfectly with forever. Just one. The idea of one person “forever” is encapsulated within the concept of marriage. There’s nothing like a legal, government-approved contract to drive home the idea that we’re supposed to be making it work forever.

It’s all very cynical, I know.

Here’s something less cynical: I’m married. Not only am I married, but I married my husband just eight weeks after our first date. And I believe he’s The One. And I plan to stay married to him forever. But here’s the rub: I still don’t believe in forever.

let me back up to the beginning

My husband and I went to high school together, but we barely knew each other then. We ran in totally different circles, we had completely different friends, and our high school extra-curriculars would never have overlapped (choir and sports). We had two, maybe three, superficial conversations in school and friended each other on Facebook in college, like people did.

Fifteen years after we first met, we found ourselves in our hometown at the same time (post college, grad-school, professional exams, and a lot of other relationships along the way), reconnected, and realized we were made just for each other. We met up for coffee, then dinner. Five weeks later, we decided to get married. Three weeks after that, we did.

From the moment I saw him again as an adult, I knew he was going to be my special one. I didn’t know how it would look or what the details would be, but I knew he was going to mean something in my life. I couldn’t have foreseen that we’d decide to try to create our own government-approved happily ever after.

forever isn’t real, right?

We’ve now been married a month and it’s been the best month of my entire life. I don’t—and didn’t—have any doubts about being married to him and I now actually believe in The One.

But I still don’t believe in forever.

You see, I believe in him, as a person. I believe in his positive qualities. I believe in our friendship. I believe in our ability to have fun together and communicate and have great sex.

But, I don’t believe that we can set a relationship up with the idea that it will last forever. I don’t believe that we can go into a marriage knowing forever is assured. I don’t believe that choosing one person as the one you want to spend forever with means that you’ll get to spend forever with that person.

I, instead, believe in today. I believe in this moment. I believe in trying to make my husband happy—right now.

In modern love, the word “marriage” has become absolutely synonymous with the word “forever.” We think “marriage” means “until the end of our lifetime.” We treat it like a static proposition in our lives: once we’re “married,” we’re in “forever.” My preferred way of looking at marriage, however, is to feel lucky and relish in the moment I have. And experience it fully. And then experience the next moment just the same.

forever might not actually be forever

I believe, in fact, that believing in “forever” might be the worst thing we can do for our marriages. If we believe in forever, we’re in forever. And that means our spouse is in forever, too. And that may mean a sort of comfort, a “settling in,” and perhaps, a bit of laziness toward our marriage. Our job might not be forever, so it deserves a lot of our energy and attention. Our friends didn’t sign a document saying they would stay our friends forever, so they also deserve a lot of our energy and attention. Our homes and physical surroundings, too, won’t stay perfect without work, so they get some energy and attention too.

Our spouses, though—they are bound “forever.” They’ll be there. They love us. They said they’d be around until the end of time. They can afford to be pushed to the bottom of the priority list. They can handle our bad moods and crappy traits. They can deal with the worst of us. Too many of us go into marriage believing that stupid, clichéd, overly memed quote: “If you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best.”

But it’s backwards for marriage. It should be: “I commit to showing you my best, all the time, and don’t believe you will ever deserve my worst.” The concept of “forever,” then, in a romantic relationship feels like it is destined for failure. The idea of a spouse being around “forever” is lovely, but only if our thoughts toward them are those of love and kindness, not obligation and expectation.

So I don’t believe in forever. I believe in myself. I believe in my husband. And I believe in trying my damnedest to make him happy and make our marriage work. Not forever—just for the moment in front of me.

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  • I really love this, and it resonates with me because it’s very similar to how my husband and I view our marriage. We both say that we made an active choice to choose each other, and we continue to make that active choice everyday. “Forever” makes it seem like you’re stuck but we aren’t – we’re choosing to be here in this marriage each day and do the work.

    • My almost-husband (3 weeks til wedding!) and I had very similar conversations. It was actually a major challenge for us and one that stopped us from getting married sooner than we might have. He said he wanted to wake up every day and choose to love me and be my partner. And he believed that marriage was taking away that choice and just saying “well we’re stuck with each other now. No choice in it.” Meanwhile, the way I grew up viewing marriage (and continue to view it) is as a public, spiritual, legal commitment that says “I want to be with you every day and I want to love you and commit to you every day.” It doesn’t let you off the hook, but it’s a kind of solidness in a promise. That nuance took us a while to work through and get on the same page about. Now we’re in a place where we both believe we can strive for both things: The official/legal/spiritual/public commitment, and the daily commitment to loving each other as best we can.

      • NolaJael

        There is a balance. I was never fond of the “live each day like it’s your last!” sentiment, because honestly, I’d quit my job and eat junk food while doing probably illegal things. This “choose your partner everyday” feels similar, because (as many people have said) they won’t always be at their best and neither will you. But you have to balance the short term and the long term. You can appreciate the day and still know that it’s untenable in the long run to eat pizza for every meal.

        • Violet

          I cannot be trusted to live each day like it’s my last, haha. It would be pizza all the time. It’s one of the things that makes us uniquely human (compared to other animals) is our ability to see long into the future and behave today in a way that will benefit us years down the road. It’s an asset! Agreed that if you’re *solely* thinking about the future, that’s a problem, but your point about balance strikes me as spot-on.

    • stephanie

      Hard agree! That’s how our marriage works, too. We aren’t still together because we promised that we would be—we make the choice monthly, weekly, sometimes daily.

  • Nichole

    Hmm. I disagree pretty strongly with a lot of this. Which isn’t to say it’s wrong or a bad article, I just come at all this from about the opposite point of view possible. Which is that jobs, friendships, I give up on when they get hard. When my best friend from high school started being really flaky in responding to me, I gave it a good try to keep initiating things and then when I wasn’t getting reciprocation with him, I decided that while he had been an important part of my life in the past, I have people that are more important and better to invest my time in now.

    When a job gets untenable or I just plain have a better opportunity, I will leave it without too much hesitation. The only real work there involves doing due diligence in making sure the new opportunity is better the way I think it will be.

    With marriage, because of the ‘forever’, I’m willing to do a lot more work when things get tough. I’m willing to invest a lot of effort into the present moment because I believe it is an investment into our future. One example – we’re both leaning into our careers a lot at the moment, and we’re going to be sacrificing some things in our relationship (like time together) to do so. That means we have to work harder to maintain that relationship through this time. It’s also going to make us a lot more comfortable in ~6 years time, and the expectation that we’ll still be together then and still have a lot of life in front of us that we’ll spend together is part of what makes things possible now.

    There are sacrifices in the moment that we’ll be making because of the shared future, and committing to tackling them together is a big part of our foundation.

    • Ashlah

      Yeah, I have mixed feelings about the points made in this piece. On the one hand, I consider myself somewhat of a realist about marriage lasting forever (child of divorce?), but at the same time, that expectation, or rather hope of forever, is a driving factor in how we approach each other and our marriage. I simultaneously feel like it’s important that we make the conscious choice to be with each other on regular basis, while also using “forever” as my baseline goal. I agree with you, Nichole, that it’s what makes marriage different for me than other relationships or situations.

    • K. is skittish about disqus

      I agree! And I think the author is actually trying to communicate something similar–that we have to work for marriage, rather than taking it for granted. Maybe I’ve just been too accustomed to reading more progressive takes on marriage, but it feels very “Well, yeah?” to me. And I definitely don’t think that caring for each other each day or moment is mutually exclusive with ‘forever’ (which is also literally impossible, but I’m a hopeless pedant ;)). But assuming we mean life-long, I think her distilled idea of giving a shit every moment you can is definitely the way to get to life-long. So I’m a bit confused why having that philosophy is the same as rejecting “forever”/life-long partnerships.

      Maybe more controversially, it’s not a truth to which I relate to think that spouses can or should dedicate every moment to making their partner happy. It’s a nice concept, but sounds to me a bit like someone who is still, frankly, in the honeymoon stage. Sometimes my husband pisses me off too much for me to want to try to make him happy in the moment and that’s just the reality; the difference is that I’m dedicated to not tearing him down. And that’s also when it’s his turn to step up to the plate…and vice versa when I piss him off. That doesn’t mean that either of us “failed” (or if it did, then it might be because small failures are sometimes part and parcel of marriage); it’s just about the ebb and flow of longterm relationships.

      • Lisa

        It’s a nice concept, but sounds to me a bit like someone who is still, frankly, in the honeymoon stage.

        This is exactly what I was thinking downthread, but I wasn’t using the words “honeymoon stage.”

        • K. is skittish about disqus

          Yeah, I keep toying with changing the language because I hate being condescending and I know that is a condescending thing to say. You put it much more kindly!

          ETA: The reason I don’t change it now is because I’m an obsessive editor (case in point here) and I’ve learned a few times that if you edit too many times, Disqus marks it as spam. :p

          • CMT

            I wondered why a bunch of seemingly normal comments in the happy hour would get marked as spam after a few hours. Now I know!

          • K. is skittish about disqus

            Really long comments sometimes get marked too, especially if you don’t have a login. And if you edit a really long comment more than once, forget it! Which is totally unfair, because my longest comments usually need the most rounds of editing (because we’re all being judged so harshly on our internet comments haha)

          • Violet

            Oh I have nooooooo idea what you’re talking about. I’ve certainly *never* written out my thoughts in Word and then copied and pasted into Disqus. Nuh-uh, not once. ; )

          • rg223

            Oh my god, as someone who pretty frequently posts something and then immediately thinks “Ahhh that came out wrong! Control z!,” this is the best idea.

          • Lisa

            Wow, you are a bigger comment editor than me! I haven’t gotten to that point with Disqus yet, but I definitely go in and change minor words. If I’m changing the substance of my comment, I usually re-post or ETA. ;)

            And like @Violet8315:disqus, if I have a longer comment or know what I want to say (Happy Hour thread), I type the whole thing in Word first and play around with it before posting!

      • loginnotworking

        H E DOUBLE HOCKEY STICKS, YES: it’s not a truth to which I relate to think that spouses can or should dedicate every moment to making their partner happy. – those of us that have either had depression or depressed partner will agree

      • ART

        “it’s not a truth to which I relate to think that spouses can or should dedicate every moment to making their partner happy”

        I really agree with this, and it has come up in moments (of my, from my perspective, young 3-year marriage) where I’ve said to my husband “I just don’t feel like myself anymore” because I’m giving everything I have to my full-time job, his new-ish company, the household, and whatever family obligations, and I suddenly realize that all the things I thought made me ME have slipped into the background because I don’t have the energy to keep them going. Like, I need alone time with books or my hobbies because they give me mental processing time that is vital to my well-being. Those are the times when I’ve said “IDGAF what you eat for dinner the next few nights, I’m not planning any meals or cooking, and I can’t help you with your paperwork, I’m just going to sit here and knit until I recognize myself again!” Sometimes we get really unbalanced in the work we’re putting in for one another, and it’s not grounds for divorce, it’s just time to figure out why it’s happening and how to course-correct. My husband has gotten much better at recognizing those times when he can’t expect me to spend my time making him happy, that I need to focus on making myself happy (and he may or may not be part of the solution at that moment…)

    • rg223

      Yeah, I too thought it was curious that the author felt like people would put less work into a marriage because it’s “forever,” but more work into friendship because it’s not the same level of commitment (ETA: meaning, you’re not signing a paper saying you’re staying friends). I feel the exact opposite – I’ve put more work into my “forever” marriage than any other relationship I’ve ever had (and certainly put more work into it than my home and surroundings – hello 6 months in a new home without light switch plates!).

      I get that this comment is part of the overall point that marriages need care and attention and shouldn’t be taken for granted – that I agree with – but I don’t know that the comparison rings true.

      • Nichole

        And I think there’s something more for care vs attention. There’s a solidity in ‘permanence’ in that I might take more care with an apartment if I think I’m only going to be living there a year, but even if I give the house I moved into less of that, I might still put more attention into it. If I’m expecting the long-term, my attitude differs. That’s part of what makes some aspects of marriage terrifying (oh gosh if the other person snores maybe I can deal with it one night but I’m going to be hearing snoring for the rest of my life :p ) but it’s also part of what lets us be more proactive about tackling things that day to day aren’t an issue but need to be dealt with to have a solid relationship (like equal distribution of labor within the relationship)

      • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

        Right? I’ve never discussed joint budgets and finances and opened a joint checking account with a friend. We’re trying to get it right, because now that it’s merged, we’re very interested in never having to un-merge it. I wouldn’t buy a house because a friend promised to be my roommate for a few years, but it seemed totally reasonable to buy a house with the expectation that this dude wants to live in it, with me, “forever.”

    • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

      I’m with you. Also, that comfort of knowing you’re going to be somewhere for a while? I need that in my life. I need that in my job, and my friendships, and in my relationship with my partner. Yes, it’s important not to get lazy and take those things for granted, and it’s important to know when you need to move on from a situation that you’ve outgrown. But if I had a sense that our relationship was always in a state of up-for-negotiation, I wouldn’t bother marrying him. If I didn’t feel secure in my job, I would be miserable. I bought a house in part because knowing that eventually I would have to uproot myself and move to another rental drove me nuts. We’re choosing to become family, and to me, that means (in part) being able to be comfortable and trust that they’re going to stick around.And this bit: “I commit to showing you my best, all the time, and don’t believe you will ever deserve my worst.” I don’t want to have to be ON all the time with my partner. I don’t expect him to be ON all the time with me. Yes, I want to be good to him. No, I don’t want to take him for granted. But also, I don’t have the energy to constantly be working to be my best self every moment of my life, and being as we live together and intend to for a long, long time (forever?), then he’s going to see my not-best self. Because that’s what happens when I’m home and surrounded by my family.If I can’t let my guard down and relax around my spouse, then when can I?

      • lamarsh

        Yes to everything you said. I generally agree with some of the sentiments in this article, in that I believe that my FH and I are committing to working through our difficulties together, but not necessarily forever, no matter what happens or how miserable we are, but I had the exact same reaction to the line you have in italics. That sounds so exhausting to me. Sometimes, I’m just going to be OK or grumpy or unpleasant, and the fact that I am comfortable being that way around him makes me confident in our relationship.

        To be honest, when my FH and I had been together for 12 weeks, I did feel like I had to be my best self all the time, so I wonder if that is part of what’s going on here.

        • CMT

          I agree with you and PAJane about that line. But I can kind of see maybe it being about your spouse deserves your best effort all the time and maybe more than any other relationship does? And sometimes that means that you are grumpy or mean to your spouse but that you don’t default to grumpy and mean and you try to not be like that to the best of your current ability.

          • K. is skittish about disqus

            I like that you say current ability – that totally shifts and needs to be recognized as something that totally shifts (e.g., my best effort at 32 weeks pregnant is different than my best effort when we’re on vacation together, and will be different than my best effort while going through a family death, etc.) With that caveat, I think this is definitely a more realistic way to interpret that line.

          • Abby

            I think the best effort to be kind and respectful all the time is important. I also think it’s important to distinguish grumpy (an emotional state) from being mean (a reaction to/consequence of that state). The grumpy is largely out of your control, and you should be able to be that way around your spouse without hiding the emotional state. But choosing to put your best effort into not lashing out and being mean as a result of that emotional state is usually somewhat in your control. (And so is forgiveness, for when we fail).

          • AtHomeInWA

            And some days your best effort is “I love you, but don’t talk to me. I need to watch netflix by myself in the extra room tonight.”

        • Abby

          “To be honest, when my FH and I had been together for 12 weeks, I did feel like I had to be my best self all the time, so I wonder if that is part of what’s going on here.” I fully agree with Lisa’s comment elsewhere in the thread on this– I don’t want to discount or invalidate their love or be condescending. But yeah, 12 weeks in to my relationship with my husband I was definitely still “on” all the time when I was with him. That’s part of the new relationship fun and spark, to be your best self (and to keep finding new and better levels of your best self that they bring out of you). And that’s awesome. But as our relationship gets closer to being measured in decades than in months, being able to not be on with my spouse is even more rewarding, and unlocks new levels of best self that I would never have found otherwise.

          • Shirley Schmidt

            Haha, I met fiancé at a time when I was done with casual relationships and being my best (non-demanding, cool, not expressing my needs) self so was upfront about my true self (perhaps aggressively so) from the start. I’ve often thought that that is one of the reasons why our relationship got off to such a good start.

          • TheOtherLiz

            I was at a wedding this weekend and the pastor said “right now, you are basically complete strangers to each other.” And that sounds strange, except to people who have been married awhile. It made sense to me, anyway. When I got engaged I thought yes, I have all the necessary and available information to make this decision. I know this human. Then I got to know him so much more over the course of being engaged, and at our wedding I was like, I REALLY know this human now. A year into marriage, looking back, the difference is exponential. As we go through more life stuff together I am sure that the man I said vows to will feel, in retrospect, like a complete stranger.

      • rg223

        And like, who’s to say who your “best self” is the person you are when you’re on your best behavior and trying to be pleasant to be around? My husband’s “best self” (the person he presents to acquaintances, in the workforce, and to all but his closest family and friends) can be a little uptight and seemingly aloof. The person he is when he’s relaxed is hilarious, laid-back, and not afraid to be himself (even if that means looking goofy or missing the mark with an off-color joke). Though I obviously like all versions of my husband (I wouldn’t have married him otherwise!), I like the “off” guy better than the front-facing one.

        • Violet

          Haha, your husband’s “best self” is my husband’s, too.

          • stephanie

            Same!

          • rg223

            Haha, I’m glad you get it! I was worried I’m come off as too harsh towards him.

          • Violet

            I mean, I can’t be *sure* my attraction to my husband was because I saw the Jennifer Ehle/Colin Firth Pride and Prejudice at an impressionable age…. but it’s a working hypothesis.

          • rg223

            *cackles delightedly*

        • K. is skittish about disqus

          My husband could have written this about me. I’m totally a Professional Mask of Perfection kind of person until I know someone well and my husband 10000% prefers the slightly colored-outside-the-lines K. :p

        • Shirley Schmidt

          Exactly! My best public self reads as cold and standoffish and I need to be able to let my guard down before I actually loosen up.

      • Her Lindsayship

        “Also, that comfort of knowing you’re going to be somewhere for a while? I need that in my life.” Yes this, me too. That was my first thought at the beginning of the article – yeah, I love variety. I want to travel to different places and work in different fields and meet different people and have loads of different experiences in my life. But I also need something to root all of that variety in, some bit of stability that keeps me grounded. I don’t think everyone needs this, but I do. We want to experience a lot of variety *together*. We want to share that with each other. And we’re agreeing to keep doing it forever because we’re what keeps each other grounded.

        • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

          SAME.

      • nutbrownrose

        “And this bit: “I commit to showing you my best, all the time, and don’t believe you will ever deserve my worst.” I don’t want to have to be ON all the time with my partner. I don’t expect him to be ON all the time with me. Yes, I want to be good to him. No, I don’t want to take him for granted. But also, I don’t have the energy to constantly be working to be my best self every moment of my life, and being as we live together and intend to for a long, long time (forever?), then he’s going to see my not-best self. Because that’s what happens when I’m home and surrounded by my family.”

        THIS. I knew my FH was the one when it took me TWO WEEKS of almost-continuous contact (19 hours a day in a studio apartment) to want to kill him. For context, I can do 48 hours with my bff, and 72 with my mom. He doesn’t need me to be on, and I don’t feel like I need to be. I can just be. I can introvert WITH him. He doesn’t count as “people” anymore, he counts as “home, where we heal and recharge from the people-ing.”

        • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

          YES YES YES YES YES.Signed, an introvert who is marrying a doubleplusintrovert

          • nutbrownrose

            In our relationship, I’m the one who LIKES people-ing. But people-ing is exhausting, dude!

          • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

            I hear you. I hear you so hard.

        • Violet

          I’m not an introvert, but I totally relate to this: “He doesn’t count as “people” anymore, he counts as “home, where we heal and recharge from the people-ing.””

          I’m really big on delay of gratification. Dessert after dinner, that sort of thing. It makes me happiest when I can end with the positive thing. And my husband is always how I want my day to end, because he’s always the biggest gratification, even if we’re just snuggling or talking about our day or watching The Americans.

          • Antonia

            Also not an introvert, also yes.

          • ART

            I love this, that’s totally how I feel, too. Sometimes we get a whole weekend together (not super common due to work schedules) and even if we do almost nothing, at the end we’ll just kind of marvel about how great it was “to spend the WHOLE weekend with you!” – like a week’s worth of dessert all at once.

          • RNLindsay

            Love this comment! I always want to end my day just home with my husband. It’s my favorite (and I always have to have dessert after dinner!)

          • anon

            Completely off point – but in old age, my great-grandfather always ate dessert first “in case I die before I get to it”. His lack of ability to delay gratification led to some serious ‘wtf is wrong with this guy’ moments in other areas of his life BUT his last meal was in fact peaches and icecream. Something to be said for that.

          • Janet Hélène

            My grandfather insisted on having the pecan pie at Thanksgiving before being airlifted to the hospital. His perspective later: “If I was gonna die, I wasn’t going out without dessert.”

    • Lisa

      Yes to this. I’m reminded of this beautiful Ira Glass quote on marriage: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7f637aa9a082d4139e442a823382ebd93741716ecee4a384245a9c455966b418.jpg

      • Lisa

        Always this. Upvotes forever.

      • K. is skittish about disqus

        I’ve never heard or read this before, and I LOVE IT. Yes. Exactly my perspective.

      • AB

        I was just about to look this quote up to post it! So relevant here.

      • Liz

        …and yet he just filed for divorce. (The quote is lovely, thought. It’s just sad timing.)

        • Lisa

          oh yeah… I forgot about that. :(

        • Lisa

          Aww, I didn’t know that. :(

    • stephanie

      I find this “With marriage, because of the ‘forever’, I’m willing to do a lot more work when things get tough. I’m willing to invest a lot of effort into the present moment because I believe it is an investment into our future.” super fascinating because I totally disagree. I am willing to do a lot more work in my marriage in the moment, because we both are still choosing to be married. My husband and I definitely believe that staying married is an active choice, and it’s one we continue to make. I am much more comfortable investing in my present than my future, because there’s no guarantee that future exists. The present is what you have right there with you.

      • Abby

        This reminds me of a mindfulness conversation I had awhile back where I was asked what percentage of my time I spend living in the past, present, and future (in what I was focusing on in my thoughts). I estimated 35-25-40, and was blown away by my friend’s 5-85-10. While I’m definitely trying to up my present percentage, I think this is why forever is such a comforting concept for me– I’d find it exhausting to be constantly reevaluating and making the active choice over and over. I think it’s a beautiful concept and important especially in terms of guarding against complacency. It’s just that as someone who’s constantly analyzing her past choices and trying to make the best choices possible for the future, feeling that my partnership is fully decided forever is a huge source of comfort and stability. If I were mentally capable of living 85% in the moment (as it sounds like you might be able to?) I think this mindset would make a ton of sense.

        • stephanie

          I am suuuuper into mindfulness (all three of us practice it in our household), so I think this definitely sounds… about right. I am probably 10-80-10– and the first 10 is only because I have a kid, and I spend time thinking back to past things we’ve learned about him and how it’s shaped who he is now. I do not find it exhausting, but I totally understand why others might!

        • rg223

          I have never heard of this percentage thing, and it’s sooooo interesting! I’m REALLY not sure how this breaks down for me – I feel like I have a lot of thoughts??? And sometimes I’m thinking about multiple things at once and I’m not sure how to break that down (like, I’m making a sandwich (present), my friend is pregnant (past?), I wonder how she is feeling (present?), I am excited to meet her baby (future)). I’m going to think about this more, hahaha. Thanks!

          • Abby

            Yeah, it’s super interesting. The goal of mindfulness is (I think? I’m not super well-versed in this yet) that if you’re making a sandwich, you’re focusing on making the sandwich, and then on eating it, savoring it. When you’re seeing your friend, you are fully present with her and focused on the interaction, her pregnancy, etc. And it’s not to say you can’t think about your friend’s pregnancy while you’re making the sandwich, but that you can give yourself permission to focus on the sandwich and let the pregnancy be a fleeting thought to which you will later devote your full attention (i.e. you will call her and chat about it, plan a baby shower if she wants one and you’re the right person to host it, etc.).

            That’s the goal. Because my current reality is usually “I’m making a sandwich. Oh, my friend told me she’s pregnant. Has anyone planned a baby shower for her yet? What if no one does? Should I plan one? Would that be stepping on her mother’s toes? But what if her mother doesn’t want to host one? Is this something I should reach out to her mother about? How do I get in touch with her mother? Would that be weird? Maybe I should just get her a present instead. What does she need? Has she registered? My sister didn’t register and I never got her a present. Crap, I really need to get my sister’s baby a present” and on and on until I suddenly notice I’ve made and eaten the entire sandwich without even tasting it. Nor have I made any actual progress towards the goal of making my friend feel loved and supported (or rectifying my past failure as an aunt). And then I eat unplanned cookies because I didn’t get to enjoy my sandwich. Oops.

            So we’ll see. I do value analyzing the past and planning for the future as I think they inform my present, so I think my ideal percentage balance is probably something like 15-60-25, but clearly it’s going to take a fair amount of work for me to get there.

          • rg223

            Yeah, I definitely want to think about my ideal percentage too! My husband is very into mindfulness, so he’s trying to get me into it. But I struggle with aspects of it, because I like getting lost in my thoughts – it’s part of getting my creative juices flowing, and without some creative thinking time, I don’t feel like myself. And I’m not sure how that fits into mindfulness, because on the one hand, I’m fully engaged with my thoughts and in a “flow,” which I think mindfulness people would feel positively towards (but I don’t know), but on the other hand, I’m not focused on the physical world at all. And I’m not sure if “brainstorming story ideas” counts as past, present or future thoughts (though I tend to think it would be present, hence me thinking the mindfulness movement would think positively about it).

            BUT, mindfulness would be a great thing for me at other times, because I do spend a lot of time thinking about future things that I don’t have a lot of control over in the moment (like the thought process you were talking about). So the idea of coming up with an ideal balance with percentages is super helpful to me! But will just take more thought and introspection on my part.

          • Abby

            I think active, conscious brainstorming and losing yourself in the creative thoughts would definitely qualify as present. Basically, if the thinking is intentional and productive, I don’t think it matters so much that it’s not focusing on the physical, tangible world. It’s the out-of-control going in circles panic/worry/distracted daydream future thoughts and the endlessly rehashing how I could have done something in the past differently that I’d like to get under control.

          • rg223

            Ahh, “productive and intentional” versus “unproductive and unintentional” is such a great way to frame this! I’m realizing now that lot of the mindfulness material I’ve read touches on this, but I apparently needed it spelled out, haha!

      • Nichole

        Before today I would have said that I agree with the active choice phrasing and while I sort of do I also consider that choice to be made not just for the present moment but for the future. I might still be choosing to be in the relationship, but I guess for me it really is more of ‘yes, I made this choice, so I’m going to fight for it’.

        • Lisa

          You summed up my own feelings very well. We had a major fight on our second dating anniversary, and one of the ways I knew our relationship was “forever” was because of how hard we fought for it that day. Before we had even made a legal commitment to one another, we were willing to work in the present for the future.

  • Anon for thi

    I mean…I do have expectation and obligation in my marriage though. Especially in terms of our willingness to fight for each other and our relationship, to understand that things won’t always be happy and to persevere through it, and yeah, to certainly aim towards a lifelong commitment, even if and when we change as people. And sometimes? Your spouse is going to see your worst. Your WORST worst, beyond what you even knew the worst you could be. And likewise. To me, there’s comfort in knowing our commitment helps carry us through that, though of course, not without effort.

    I guess this is just to say that sometimes “the moment in front of you” sucks way more than you think it will, four weeks into marriage and twelve weeks together. And sometimes it can suck for a long, long time. No one has to be a martyr and everyone has their own threshold for when a marriage is done. However, personally, I do expect my husband and I to work through it, no matter how hard it sucks and how much we want to throw in the towel and however much either of us has failed to be our best, because that’s what we promised and that is the life we’ve cultivated together over many years. Maybe that’s an obligation and an expectation, but it’s sometimes the reality of long years together.

    • Abby

      I agree. Life gets really shitty sometimes, and it’s not a matter of “handling” your partner when they’re at their worst– it’s about loving them anyways and doing your messy best to help get them back to their best.

      It’s also really harmful to think of your worst and your best as things that can be “deserved,” because that language implies that if your partner sees you at your worst (which they ABSOLUTELY WILL) then you have failed as a spouse because you’re not giving them your best. And while I’m an adamant proponent of the David Foster Wallace “This is water” commencement speech and making conscious choices about how to view the world and act around people with as much compassion as possible, “commit[ting] to showing you my best, all the time” is just not sustainable. Life is not always going to let you be your best, and by putting on a happy face because your partner “deserves your best” you’ll miss out on one of the best parts of marriage: being able to be and share your whole authentic self with another person.

      That’s not to say we shouldn’t *treat* our partners the best we can on a daily basis. But treating someone the best you can on any given day is not the same as being your best self all the time, and it’s important not to conflate those two things.

      • emilyg25

        I also feel like you can’t develop true intimacy if you’re always insisting on being at your best. That’s just not the truth or really even possible.

    • Violet

      Hands down, the person who’s seen and had to deal with me at my worst is my spouse.

  • anon.

    I agree with the sentiment behind this (choosing love and your relationship actively), but this is one of the least specific things I’ve read in a long time. How did the author learn this lesson through her marriage? How is she dealing with the paradox of committing to someone for life and not necessarily believing that’s possible? It’s so vague.

    • Ashlah

      I’d like to know more about how the author and her husband experience rough times through this lens. For me, the commitment of marriage ideally lasting forever means that we’ve agreed to put in extra work, be extra patient with each other, and stick together when it isn’t easy. It’s assumed that we will stay, barring extreme circumstances. Yes, you can still make a choice to leave, and you should still consider it a choice that you stay, but if marriage isn’t considered any more long-term than a friendship or a job, does the author feel that makes those rough patches harder or scarier (because the choice to stay is less assumed)? Or easier (because there’s less pressure of “forever” in addition to whatever issues are happening)? For me personally, marriage as forever brings a sense of security that I’m not sure I would feel otherwise.

      • Lisa

        It would be interesting to see the author re-visit this topic in a few years with some distance. Right now it sounds like she and her husband have been together for about three months. While I think it’s possible for people to know very quickly whether they’re meant to be together, most of those newer relationships haven’t been tested by heavy, emotional situations yet.

        • K. is skittish about disqus

          I feel the same way and it makes me feel SO condescending. :-/ I do not at all mean to diminish her love and happiness, nor am I saying that she has nothing meaningful to share about marriage (and you’re not either!) But this specific topic is tougher for me without the testing you mention.

          And if they have gone through something like that in their 3 months together, it would have been helpful context for this piece.

          • stephanie

            As someone who also got married quickly (after 12 weeks of knowing each other period!), I can say that.. at the time, I thought I knew All The Things because we had figured out something that takes other people years to do! Which is totally a condescending thing to think.. but I don’t necessarily the author is meaning to be, if that makes sense. Much as a person who is about to have a baby knows EVERYTHING about parenting (please note heavy sarcasm), I think that if you get married in a non-traditional way, you really feel like you’ve tapped into something that maybe others have missed. Once we had been through some shit (a huge fight on our first anniversary, planning a divorce on our third, him moving out around our fifth) and I was sufficiently humbled by going through all the hard stuff people go through when they, you know, date for years and THEN get married… I realized that I know nothing and never will.

            Again: only my perspective, but one that I wanted to put out there.

          • K. is skittish about disqus

            Doesn’t sound dramatic! Sounds like life. :)

            I totally get the author’s excitement and joy – it comes through so clearly in her writing, and I’m really happy for her. And it’s awesome that she has such faith in her partnership. I’m not saying her perspective will necessarily change after going through more emotional trials, just that it would be easier for her perspective to then resonate with my own experience and POV if they had.

            And I’m sure 10 years from now, I’ll re-read my own thoughts about marriage and be like, “Oh, you sweet summer child…” It all constantly evolves!

          • stephanie

            OMG yes. I have reread some stuff I wrote as recently as two years ago on marriage and I’m just like.. GIRL STOP.

          • I’d be curious to read about that and what perspectives/feelings/etc have changed…

        • Her Lindsayship

          That would be interesting! I like the idea that we’re getting this portrait of how the author views marriage from a SUPER early point in the relationship, but it’s still across the marriage threshold – so what does time change? I’ve been with fiancé for over four years, and our ideas about what our commitment to each other is/should be have certainly evolved a lot in that time, and I expect they will continue to do so after marriage. But I recognize that it’s very different for different folks!

        • spinning2heads

          Yes, I would also like to see this. I look forward to reading it in a couple of years. And then again in a decade.

          • rg223

            I’m looking forward to the 65 year-old check-in!

        • Kalë

          You said this a lot more diplomatically than I could have, thank you!

        • Violet

          It’s a funny thing, because I’ve only been in one long-term relationship, and I also kinda *knew* at three months. But who knows, if my current relationship hadn’t lasted, maybe I’d feel that way about the next relationship, too? So while I don’t discount completely what someone says at three months, it’s only been the subsequent years that really confirmed my own initial impressions for me.

          • K. is skittish about disqus

            I wrote in my journal that I was going to marry my husband the night I met him, when we were 19 and 20 years old. He’s my only [truly] serious longterm relationship as well.

            Maybe I was prescient, but likely it was more that our intense initial chemistry actually turned into something real and, like you said, that feeling was then confirmed over the past decade.

          • Violet

            My journal had “Violet HisLast” written in it at 18 years, and I was NOT the kind of girl who wrote that for anyone else.

        • Shirley Schmidt

          Exactly! I knew I wanted to marry fiancé after about 5 months. I wasn’t ready to marry him until I knew what that meant, and that took another year and dealing with some hard emotional graft in our relationship (also, living together).

      • anon.

        You know, as soon as I typed that I agree with the sentiment, I realized I actually don’t. I do think that, you know, love is a choice and an action, you must actively choose your partner over and over, etc. but yeah, as you point out, equating marriage with a job to be left rubs me the wrong way.
        So yeah, I guess I just don’t feel this author has given any compelling points as to why anyone should be taking any lessons from her, apparently whirlwind, relationship or worldview. I’m sure a piece of writing like that could exist, but this isn’t it.

      • emilyg25

        It also gives me a sense of commitment. Forever is a really long time! I want that to be good time! So I work hard on myself and my marriage and my husband does that same. So yeah, very vague.

  • Brooke

    I think the language here creates a false dichotomy where we either see our marriages as “every day” or “forever”. I don’t think that these two are mutually exclusive at all. My partner and I recognize that our marriage is every. single. day. But all of those days will create our “forever” (cheesy, whatever). By saying that our marriage is every day, we do focus on treating each other well and putting forth the effort (because every day DOES matter), but without the knowledge that we are both in this forever, what’s the point?

  • anonymous

    Not sure I really need a lesson from 4 weeks in, especially not one as vague as this.

  • NotMotherTheresa

    Oh my….

    The sentiment of this is sweet, and I certainly wish the author the best of luck in her new marriage. But geez, this definitely made me facepalm quite a few times.

    My husband and I have now spent 11 years together. “Forever”, to me, means a commitment that I wouldn’t show to a friend, or a job, or anything else that’s not permanent. To be completely honest, my husband and I have both stuck with one another through things that I don’t think I’d stick by any friend through. I have indeed seen him at his worst, and he has indeed seen me at my worst. That isn’t because of laziness or taking one another for granted; it’s because that’s what happens when you’re permanently bound together. When you spend every day together for years and years, you will see one another at some really, really horrible, low moments that you would hide from even your closest friends. Honestly, it’s not pretty, and it’s not romantic, and it’s really sort of horrible and shitty. But, that’s the natural consequence of having two deeply interconnected lives–you WILL see the things that you don’t want to see, and because it’s “forever”, you will deal with it, and you will both move on.

    Author, I don’t say this to burst your beautiful bubble, but sometimes marriage is shitty. Sometimes your spouse will be shitty. Sometimes you’ll be shitty. Sometimes you’ll both be giving it your absolute all, and actually doing a pretty good job all things considered, but the circumstances surrounding you will just be so undeniably suck filled that no matter how hard you’re both trying, it will still really, really suck. And honestly, if you don’t view marriage as “forever”, you will never make it through those times. You’d have no reason to. There would be no reason to stay in friendship that miserable, or to keep working at a job that horrible, or to stay in an apartment that uninhabitable. But, if you remind yourself that it is “forever”, you’ll stick it out for at least another day, or week, or month. And, assuming that you do have a healthy, supportive marriage, sticking it out for that day or week or month (or year or two) means that eventually, the storm will clear, and the sun will come back out, and you’ll once again remember why you pledged to stay with that one person for the rest of your life.

    This comment sounds so depressing and negative. It’s really not. Best of luck, author! Marriage is a beautiful thing. Just, maybe prepare yourself for some serious suckage, too?

    • Emily

      Kinda needed to be reminded of this today. Thank you :)

    • Her Lindsayship

      I love this comment. There are a lot of interesting and meaningful things I would enjoy reading about from the perspective of a person who is freshly married, 12 weeks into the relationship but knew immediately that it was meant to be. The meaning of commitment is just not one of them.

      • Vanessa

        This is what I came here to say, but worded much more eloquently.

    • Antonia

      This is literally my favorite comment ever on APW.

      • CMT

        Right? I copied it and pasted it in an email to myself for future reference.

        • Antonia

          Ditto!

        • Ellie Hamilton

          I just emailed it to my boyfriend!

      • NotMotherTheresa

        Aww, thank you so much! That actually kind of means a lot to me to hear!

    • Transnonymous

      This is a really great response to an article that really frustrated me. Kudos to you for articulating this in a gracious way.

      • NotMotherTheresa

        Aww, thank you so much! When I posted it, I was hoping it didn’t come off as condescending or anything, because I do feel where the author is coming from, and I absolutely hope for the best for her, but at the same time, it made me cringe pretty hard at times. I’m so thankful for the positive response this has gotten.

    • Anon

      “When you spend every day together for years and years, you will see one another at some really, really horrible, low moments that you would hide from even your closest friends. Honestly, it’s not pretty, and it’s not romantic, and it’s really sort of horrible and shitty.”
      YES! That’s my exact thoughts. But the next day, when you realize your spouse stuck by you when you needed them the most (=at your lowest), that’s beautiful.

    • Joyce

      I have also been with my husband for 11 years and agree with the author of the original post. I don’t believe in forever either. Yes, marriage gets hard and you will see your spouse be a fully flawed (sometimes shitty) human being. Every time this happens we both CHOOSE to stay in the marriage, not because of a default “we have to, this is forever” but because we decide that staying with each other through the bad times is worth it. If this changes, we’ll get divorced. Treating divorce as a real and very shitty possibility makes us treat each other better, because we don’t want to have it happen. I honestly find your comment a bit condescending to the author.

      • stephanie

        THIS: “Treating divorce as a real and very shitty possibility makes us treat each other better, because we don’t want to have it happen.”

      • K. is skittish about disqus

        I don’t feel like people are taking issue with the idea that you actively choose to stay in a marriage, though? It’s more the idea that the active ‘choosing’ is somehow incongruous with the aim for a life-long partnership. I don’t get the sense that anyone here is saying that anyone should take the old-school Irish Catholic perspective of, “Welp, we promised FOREVER in the EYES OF GOD so even if we HATE each other now, we’re trapped.”

        It’s more the idea that taking comfort in your marriage vows during the really, really shitty parts of marriage is somehow not being mindful of or in the moment, re: your partnership, that doesn’t resonate with a lot of people in longterm relationships (not all people or all relationships, of course).

      • Elizabeth

        I wonder if committing to forever, and being honest about the possibility of divorce are not mutually exclusive. I read your comment and @disqus_aNMPCjsyYH:disqus ‘s and thought yall were basically saying the same thing. You both tackle each conflict with the intent on making the best of it because forever is the goal–and forever is achieved through having a healthy partnership. I don’t think either of you would say “I don’t believe in a healthy partnership.”

    • Elizabeth

      I don’t think this is negative at all, just very real. At least to me the commitment to forever (ish) is what makes marriage so powerful.

    • THIS. Living with someone day in and day out, through illness, depression, losses, griefs, family stress, work stress, money stress, god forbid giving birth to babies and not sleeping through the night for the next two years…and this is all, normal, pretty everyday stuff, say you get a foreclosure, a medically complex child, extended unemployment… you’re going to see their very worst. If you can’t be generous to them in those moments (days, weeks, months, even years), if you can’t feel safe being seen and held by them in those moments then you’re not going to make it through to experience the next good one. It probably is true that thinking “We’re married, he or she or they is not going anywhere” does allow us to take one another for granted, and not work enough at being generous, understanding, attractive, attentive, etc. to our spouses, and I appreciate that in terms of what I think the general sentiment is of this piece. But I don’t think a belief in forever and that kind of complacent attitude necessarily correspond to one another. That belief in forever might allow one person to be complacent, but it might compel another to work harder than they ever thought possible to hold on.

    • Mags

      Thank you for this comment. Why was the writer allowed to discuss commitment when she has known her spouse 12 weeks? I’ve been living with my partner for 12 years, 6 of which we were married, 4 with children and I still don’t feel qualified to comment on this.

    • Shirley Schmidt

      I agree. My fiancé and I met at a stressful time for both of us academically and professionally (intense postgraduate professional course with uncertain and arbitrary career prospects) and for him personally as his parents were divorcing and he was the sole emotional support for his mum. We moved to another country after 9 months still with uncertain career prospects and all the stress of working and living together and having no one but each other to vent and take frustration out on.
      There were times when it was really shit. Times when I thought about leaving. Neither of us were our best selves and quite often we were our worst. And one of the major reasons why we’re getting married is that both of us got each other, and our relationship, through that. I know that he has my back and I have his. And we are both committed to doing the work on ourselves and our relationships that means we have the best possible shot at the best possible partnership we can have.
      And we know life will continue to throw shit at us! His dad died just before Christmas, for one. But we carry on and we do the work because what we have is solid.
      It would be a very different relationship if we were our best possible selves all the time. Apart from utterly exhausting, it wouldn’t be a true partnership because we would not know who the other was. Not fully.
      Also, I think the idea of “The one” is bollocks.

      • Shirley Schmidt

        I clearly have a lot of thoughts about this!

      • NotMotherTheresa

        Beautifully written.

        And oh my gosh, thank you for your last line!!!! I am 100% in agreement, and it honestly sort of drives me crazy when people talk about having found “the one” (even though my own husband insists that I was “the one”).

        Nah, I’m not “the one”. Neither is he. We’re just two reasonably compatible people who’ve promised to deal with one another’s crap for forever. If I would have gone to a different college, I would have found a different reasonably compatible person, and so would he, and it likely would have turned out just fine. But, I’m glad it worked out the way it did, because if I have to go through the crap of life with someone, my husband’s a pretty good guy to do it with.

        • anon

          Have you heard the Tim Minchin song about this exact thing? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zn6gV2sdl38

          Glorious.

          • NotMotherTheresa

            Oh my gosh, I had not heard it, but now I absolutely love it! Thank you!

        • Lisa

          This is an idea I picked up from Dan Savage, and I love it. There is no “One.” There is someone who is .65 or .57, and you round that person up to 1. There’s probably someone out there who is more of a match for me than my husband, but we decided we were willing to do the work of making our less-than-perfect relationship thrive.

      • TheOtherLiz

        Thanks for sharing. I”m so sorry to hear about your father in law passing. And yes, as someone who’s a year into marriage, this sums things up really well. And as a Christian I think you’ve put beautifully the essence of how (I believe) marriage is supposed to make a stumbling attempt at showing one another the love of Christ – you don’t avoid the shit life throws at you by being in a marriage. But you do have someone with you in the muck. And you know they’ll continue to be there with you, sharing burdens, putting up with each other. This morning I came back from a yoga class down the street, ready to take on the day, wishing everyone good morning in the sunshine as I walked home, and found my husband, grumpy in the kitchen, having woken up with a head cold. I couldn’t make his funk go away, but I also didn’t say, “bye, I’m kind of having a good morning and you’re ruining it.” I just walked in the door, dug out the cold medicine and sat down with him to comfort him. That’s marriage.

    • anon

      This is an awesome comment.

  • Mrrpaderp

    Really interesting piece. And I like the fact that it’s posted the same day as the prenup discussion.

    I’m not sure that most people, if they were really being honest with themselves, believe that marriage is a “forever” kind of thing. I think that just about everyone likes the idea of “forever.” But in practice, the notion of forever seems to be a very comforting fantasy. Look at just about any advice column, including those featured here. They’re littered with discussions of dealbreakers. If your spouse refuses to meet your needs or does something sufficiently heinous, the obvious solution is divorce.

    And that’s not a bad thing. I despise the (anti-woman) suggestion that a higher divorce rate means that marriage has somehow been cheapened. In fact I’d argue the opposite. The concept of marriage is much more valuable when marriages are healthy, happy, and functional. Trapping people in unhappy marriages hardly protects the “sanctity of marriage.” I agree with the author; marriage isn’t about promising to be with someone forever no matter what, it’s about promising to give your best.

    • rg223

      “The concept of marriage is much more valuable when marriages are healthy, happy, and functional. Trapping people in unhappy marriages hardly protects the ‘sanctity of marriage.'” — I feel this SO HARD when articles talk negatively about Millienials not getting married or waiting longer to get married, and somehow equate that to perpetual childhood or something. To me, it’s a sign people are taking marriage seriously!

    • Ella

      I think there’s somewhere between promising to be with someone forever *no matter what* and “just for the moment in front of me.” Which for me is promising to work for our relationship forever. If something happens that breaks the ground rules of our relationship, then there may not be a relationship to work for anymore. If we hate each other, there’s not a relationship to work for anymore. But I still commit to our relationship in the assumption it will be forever.

  • Sarah

    I disagree with this essay. 2 months into marriage, but 8 years into my relationship, one my strongest reasons for wanting to be married was the stability and security of knowing that my husband would always be there. Being at your best all the time is completely unrealistic. A few years ago, he lost his father to cancer. During his father’s short battle, but especially in the first few months after his death, I poured more energy into our relationship than he did, by a long-shot. I carried us in that time, because it was a point in his life he just couldn’t. I’m sure there will be points in our relationship that he carries us, because I won’t be able to. It is comforting to know that even in rough times, we are both committed to working through it “forever.”

    That doesn’t mean I take him for granted. It means he is worth investing in. I sacrifice now, because in the long run, this life-time relationship is worth it. It is every day, trying my best to make him happy, even if my best isn’t always enough.

    I wish the very best for this author and her new husband. If her way of pursuing her marriage works for them, great. But it is certainly not what I would want in my marriage.

  • anon

    You sound like someone who would do well within the poly and nonmonogamous community.

    • Lisa

      …could you explain this a bit more? I’m not sure I understand from where your comment is coming and how it relates to what the author wrote.

      • CMT

        It might be about the first paragraph? “And I definitely didn’t think that the idea of one person forever was “natural.” After all, we don’t expect one person to fulfill us forever in any other area of life—except romance.”

      • K. is skittish about disqus

        Yeah, author even says she believes her husband is The One (which is a topic I’d *love* to read a perspective on, because that’s something I actually don’t believe in!) which is pretty monogamous language.

      • anon

        CMT nailed it. This quote:

        “And I definitely didn’t think that the idea of one person forever was “natural.” After all, we don’t expect one person to fulfill us forever in any other area of life—except romance. We expect to have lots of different friends to fulfill our different emotional needs. We expect to switch jobs or positions when we grow out of what we’re currently doing. We expect to go on different vacations and experience different places for their different charm.”

        pretty much outlines the central tenets of the poly community. The expectation of someone to be everything to one person is not always realistic and allowing the idea of multiple people to cumulatively become a “soulmate”, each in part and parcel, is one of the major thoughts there.

        If someonewants to be sexually monogamous but romantically open, or vice versa, those are all options within these lifestyles.
        This is a really vague essay that, as said above, comes off as honeymoony so it’s not easy to conclusively characterize but enough sentences jumped at me that this thought popped into my head and I’m wondering what people think about that.

        • Lisa

          I see what you’re saying. However, I’d lean more towards @disqus_Fn5VdrCNVh:disqus’s analysis that OP uses “the one” to describe her husband several times. Personally, I don’t think my husband should be all things to me, but I get what he doesn’t provide from other friends and family members. I don’t think it necessarily means the author is poly. (Not that there is anything wrong with that.)

  • Katie

    This might make me sound condescending, buuuuut… I knew my husband was “the one” right away, and if I could get married after 3 months of knowing him, I would. However, right around our actual wedding day, the romance sucked so hard that I had serious cold feet. The notion of “the one” suddenly disappeared, and I had to struggle through the first months of our marriage. Now, a year later, I understand that the love we had is nothing like the love we have now, it’s changed but in a good way. So yeah, I’m pretty sure the author is still in the honeymoon stage… Which is not to say she’ll have similar feelings to mine, but now it’s pretty early to declare anything.

  • stephanie

    Hey guys! There have been a few comments speculating about the author’s beliefs surrounding monogamy—since that’s not what this piece is about (and Anjali isn’t here right now to discuss, if she WANTS to), I’ve removed those comments. If you have any questions email me: stephanie@apracticalwedding.com.

    • Katharine Parker

      For people who are interested, her blog discusses a lot of her opinions about non-monogamy. So the conversation does exist there.

      • stephanie

        For sure!

  • Katharine Parker

    It’s interesting to me to read people’s different perspectives on the ideas of forever. I do think marriage is a forever commitment and I’m going into marriage with that belief. That gives me the feeling of stability and security that I need in our commitment. It gives us space to disagree and weather conflict and know we will still be together when we come through it. At the same time, I don’t think my fiancé is “the one”–at least, not in a fated way. We fell in love and from there chose to be the one for each other. Being the one comes from that commitment and investment in our relationship.

    • K. is skittish about disqus

      Oh, I totally think that the concept of “The One” and aiming for a life-long partnership can be mutually exclusive! I don’t believe that my husband is The One either. I believe that my husband and I love each other deeply, and have chosen to commit to building a life together and we intend for that life to last until one of us dies (or circumstances irrevocably change well beyond what we can now anticipate). But I don’t believe that I couldn’t possibly have been happy with another human, on a Ghost Ship that didn’t carry me. Or if, say, my husband passes away before I do.

      But I think the concept of The One is much more open to individual interpretation.

      • Katharine Parker

        I love my fiancé so much I can barely talk about it because it feels excessive. I knew I wanted to be with him forever within weeks. (My friends knew, too–someone told me the other day that the first time she and her husband hung out with us, probably three weeks after we started dating, he said to her afterwards, “they’re going to get married.” And now, years later, here we are, getting married!) I completely believe we have an exceptional love story. But still…I don’t believe in fate. I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason. I’m sure there are other men out there that I could fall in love with and build a life with, in the Ghost Ship way (Alexander Skarsgard, probably). I have chosen to do so with my fiancé, and I love him more every day, but it’s being with him that makes him “the one.”

        • K. is skittish about disqus

          YES. This is beautifully written. And he choice aspect is very powerful too! I think it’s a big part what the author was actually trying to get across, but got a little lost.

  • JLily

    I think the concept of forever is really important in marriage. I have had a few long-term relationships prior to the one with my husband, but with none of those were our lives so interwoven. We make decisions based on the two of us together. We share money, a house, dogs, responsibilities for family, etc. I’m not saying that elements of marriage don’t exist in other committed relationships, but at least for us, it was this concept of being “all in.” We decided we are. The difference is that we are building our life together.

    In my experience, whether you stay together or divorce, the one you marry becomes your family. Once you marry, you may be able to go your separate ways but your lives remain tied together. There may continue to be obligations, whether you can foresee them or not. I think that this is why marriage is such a heavy, serious decision, and why its more than “just the moment in front of me.”

  • Violet

    I have a bit of a different perspective. As a deeply, deeply cynical person myself, my spouse is the one exception. It’s crazy cool awe-inspiring to me that our relationship can cut through my otherwise pretty practical, no-nonsense, unromantic self. My relationship is the one place where I can throw practicality aside and live in an irrationally optimistic world of (possible self-delusion) where we think that we are just somehow made for each other in a way that we’ll make it “forever.” Despite that in our 12 years together, there have been plenty of terrible times. So I don’t know. I probably wouldn’t have married my partner if I didn’t have this bizarre, inexplicable feeling that we’re supposed to be doing this “forever.”

    • Her Lindsayship

      I nominate this for most unexpectedly romantic thing ever written

      • Violet

        Aww, thank you!

  • NolaJael

    In a sort-of Groucho Marx way, I wouldn’t marry anyone who was willing to marry me after 5 weeks. That being said, there are plenty of marriages and partnerships that started quickly and ended well. It’s hard for me to balance my personal belief in plodding, rational, communicative relationships with idea that this might just be another way of imposing an idea of what’s “right” onto women’s lives.

    • Katharine Parker

      Your first line is full on LOL.

    • We got married 7 years into our relationship and to this day I honestly wonder if we were rushing it. But I have also met those people who got married in under 7 months who stayed happily married.

      While I’m not *quite* willing to view them as equally prudent choices, people gotta live their lives the way they wan’t to life them ¯_(ツ)_/¯

    • AP

      I love your whole comment. I also “knew” about my husband very early on (like, after a few weeks) and he “knew” about me too. But we waited a few years to get married because we (really, I) needed to have ALLLLL the cards on the table before making a commitment for…well, for forever. Had we not waited to get married, I imagine we’d still be pretty happy, because we’re still the same people. Our first major fight (over whether I’d take his name if we got married) was around the 1.5 year mark and was a real eye-opener. I look at our ability to get through it as the assurance I needed that we’d be ok for the long haul.

      • Vanessa

        This. I’m comfortable with forever because I’ve put in the time to know my fiance, what his strengths and weaknesses are, how he reacts to stress and crisis, what his problem-solving skills are, how he acts during an argument, etc. I wasn’t ready to decide if I should be with him “forever” before learning those things.

    • I think that J and I were ready to marry each other after 5 weeks, but it took five years to decide that marriage was the form our relationship would take next.

  • emmers

    I read this as a sweet take on marriage, early into a relationship. It’s like a snapshot of the past. I kind of wonder what kinds of things I would have said about marriage, if I had gotten married 7 years ago when we started dating.

    My view of marriage is different, but it makes sense. I’m 7 years in! Just like how my view on employment is way different than it was 12 years ago when I first started working. I wish the author many good things as she and her husband grow together, both as a couple, and in their marriage.

    • Lawyerette510

      You hit the nail on the head with this comment (like you so often do).

      • emmers

        That’s a really sweet thing to say. Seriously tearing up! Thank you.

  • ManderGimlet

    Interesting perspective, but very different than the relationship I find myself in.
    I think being “my worst” is not being lazy or pushing my partner to the bottom of my priority list, it’s being vulnerable and opening myself up to the possibility of either being very disappointed by my partner or bringing us closer than ever before. I love the idea of “forever” because if he DOES disappoint me, if he does fail to provide what i need at that time, we have a chance to work on it, to face challenges together again and figure out what we need to do to support each other in the ways we need.
    Forever makes a lot of room for mistakes. Forever takes the pressure off of being “the one”, of living up to a hyperidealized version of myself that always instinctually knows what my partner wants or needs, who is always emotionally on point and patient and kind and never angry or thoughtless. Forever tells me that when I fuck up, my partner is going to be there after to help me figure it out. He may not be happy, he may be hurt, it may signal a dark time to come. But forever is the light at the end of the tunnel.

    • Lawyerette510

      Exactly!

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  • I’m with a lot of the other commenters in terms of making active choices, and absolutely letting my partner see me at my worst. I personally push back on the idea of marriage being forever, because forever isn’t fairly doled out.

    My dad died 6 years into my parents’ marriage. It was his forever, but thirty years later it turned out to be a relatively short part of my mum’s. They didn’t get to make an active choice to stay together. She saw him at his worst, but he didn’t see her at hers because that was when she was grieving him. Forever wasn’t fairly distributed between them, and I am incredibly conscious that it may not be evenly distributed between me and my partner either – he has a history of cancer and epilepsy (and he’s a little older than me, and women generally live longer anyway). I don’t want to be with anyone else as long as he’s around, but I am conscious that, barring a tragic accident, odds are one of us will outlive the other. My mum got a second forever with my step dad, and it’s okay to keep that in mind. Some people get short forevers, some people get long ones, and some people get multiple forevers.

    • emilyg25

      I think there is a lovely article to be written about the illusion of forever. I’ve known a couple people who lost their spouse to cancer when they were in their 40s, and that was instrumental in my own decision to marry a man 20 years older than me, despite the actuarial likelihood that I will spend most of my retirement alone.

    • rg223

      This is really beautiful.

    • SS Express

      Love this comment.

  • Eh

    I might have a very jaded view on this subject. My ex used this reasoning to avoid discussions about our future. When ever I would bring up our future (e.g., marriage or children) he would say things like “We’re together right now and I don’t see that changing in the foreseeable future.” I agree that both partners in a couple have to make an active decision to stay in the relationship and make it work. Because my ex was living in the moment our relationship couldn’t grow.

    • TheOtherLiz

      I had a very similar conversation with an ex. And it’s why I left.

  • Amy March

    I’ve never heard anyone say that forever means they can take their spouse for granted or be lazy in their marriage. I don’t think that behavior has anything to do with whether you believe in forever or not.

  • Oh, you know what would be really interesting? Making a series of these talking to people who’ve been together for different lengths of time. A lot of stuff coming up in the comments from people who’ve been married 1 – 5- 7 -10 – 20 years is demonstrating the different perspectives you have on marriage once you’ve lived it a while, and I think with the conversations recently about we celebrate the beginning of a marriage with a wedding but don’t place as much emphasis on the anniversaries it’d be good to explore what marriage means to people who’ve lived it for longer.

  • I found this article fascinating because I met my husband and got married about three months after our first date. Here we are, 7 years later and expecting our second child together. That being said, I have always told others that if we hadn’t been married, we probably wouldn’t still be together. Not because he wasn’t an excellent partner, but because life can get shitty sometimes and it’s easier to walk away. My husband especially had to spend a lot of time working on his career in his twenties and it was financially really rough. These days, I’m thankful I chose him to be my life partner, but I absolutely believe in forever. I also believe that he is not responsible for my happiness, he does not “complete” me, that there will be a ton of shitty times, but it will be overcoming those obstacles together that make the good times so great, and completely worth fighting for.

  • Sarah

    yeah I disagree that “forever” makes you lazy, as she says in this article. For me and my husband, knowing that we’re essentially stuck together for life (barring exceptional circumstances) makes us work harder at making sure we’re both happy and supported in the marriage. It makes me more patient and forgiving, since I realize most things aren’t worth bickering over in the grand scheme of sharing our life together. And honey, no, marriage is not about showing your best self to the person and not showing your worst. It’s about being your whole self and having the security to know that even at your worst your spouse will love (the verb) you. it DOES require a conscious effort, and perhaps the author means to say that we should always be giving the marriage our all,but that means loving your spouse when they can’t give their all. If I had to be my best self all the time in marriage and expected his best I wouldn’t be married, that’s for sure. Collectively we’ve dealt with anxiety, depression, prolonged unemployment, grief, weight gain – we’ve hit some individual lows from time to time but our marriage has remained rock-solid. I know that when I collapse into a puddle of tears for the umpteenth time that week and can’t get off the couch (because post-partum depression is a jerk) he’s gonna pick up my slack. He doesn’t say “eh, we’re married forever, I don’t have to deal with this. She’s not showing me her best self anyway.” He thinks, ok, this is who I vowed to love (the verb) forever. Time to do that. And I do the same for him.

  • idkmybffjill

    This may be different for people who aren’t interested in having children – but for me marriage is forever because marriage is family. My husband and I had a long talk about the fact that, assuming we had children (i’m pregnant) – we would always be part of each other’s family, even if we weren’t in love anymore.

    A lot of that is based on how my mom and dad handled divorce, but for me – even if I don’t stay married to him forever, my husband is my family forever.

  • Ella

    “Our homes and physical surroundings, too, won’t stay perfect without work” – so, actually quite a good analogy for a relationship then? To run with this analogy, wouldn’t you put more care and attention into a house you were going to live in forever rather than somewhere you’re leaving in six months? My attitude to a forever home is less “don’t break this” and more “how can we make this home the best place for us to be?” – which I think is a nice way to think about marriage.

    • Eh

      oh I like that analogy!

  • Forever is a difficult thing in the real life. Really hard

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  • Christine

    This is the dumbest article ever. Why get married then? Why not just live together and celebrate your “todays” for whatever you want to call it?

  • Julie

    My initial reaction to this article was definitely along the lines of “wait, four weeks married after eight weeks dating and you’re telling me whaaaat about marriage!?” However, from my perspective, I don’t think the author is far off. I’ve been married three years, living together for almost seven, and had a similar experience in that I knew I wanted to be with my husband within hours of meeting for the first time. Fortunately, he felt similarly. We became serious and moved in together quickly. Since we met, we’ve always been deeply committed to each other. We’ve had similar conversations: we’re choosing to be together, but “forever” doesn’t mean that we aren’t entitled to each other’s best treatment and respect. However, we waited almost four years to actually tie the knot. By year two, I was chomping at the bit to put a ring on it, but ultimately I’m glad that things progressed as they did. It’s easy to say these optimistic things about choosing each other every day, about being the best we can, about actively appreciating one another. But after that honeymoon glow fades in a year or two, there will be moments when you look at each other at your worst and think, “what have I gotten myself into?” For me, if we had been married during those times, I would have felt trapped. By the time we actually got married, we had worked through enough challenges that I knew we could withstand pretty much anything.

    Sure, we could have gotten married early on. I think we would have made it. My immediate instinct that he was “the one” has lasted this long, and I hope it will last a lot longer. But getting married four years out meant that we had a great run as boyfriend and girlfriend, and our first years of marriage have been strong and amazing. Had we gotten married sooner, our lives together would have started with a rocky marriage as we faced our first challenges together and learned how to navigate them.

    So to anyone questioning whether someone in such a short relationship is qualified to give advice, I’d say, in some ways she is more qualified than anyone. In the beginning of passionate love is when we’re the most idealistic! We can say things like “decide to choose each other again every day” rather than “decide to endure his snoring for yet another night.” The trick is to keep that glowing attitude when things get tough and you realize you don’t know this person very well at all. Because… things will get tough. It doesn’t mean you can’t make it through. Just remember how you felt at the beginning, when things were glowy, passionate, and perfect!