Notes From The Bathtub On Marriage And Independence

I write this from the bathtub, where I am sitting, with my shoes on, listening to tornado sirens wail.

One of the things I was most worried about before C and I got married was losing my independence. I was worried that there was a “Single Emily” that I would never get to know, or that being half of a marriage would mean that I was no longer a whole person. Living in a city where rent made living alone prohibitively expensive may have played a role here. Most of all, I think I was afraid of not knowing how to be alone. In retrospect, you would think he had proposed that we become conjoined twins instead of getting married.

Well let me tell you (alone from the bathtub in the middle of a tornado), this first year of marriage has been a freaking crash course in “aloneness.” I’m pretty sure I get my advanced certification after tonight. Perhaps you think I’m being dramatic, and maybe I am. But I was deeply afraid that marrying young would leave me unprepared for moments like this. So here I am, alone, in the candle-lit bathtub on the phone with my mom. And I will be fine.

Our new marriage has pushed me geographically, professionally, physically, mentally and emotionally. We moved to St. Louis, Missouri from Washington, DC; I faced down unemployment and accepted a new job where I’m pushed harder every day; I ran a half marathon, sought out professional writing opportunities, and learned how to be alone in a new city (where they have tornadoes) while my husband focuses on his graduate program. I also learned how to use power tools, haggle with mechanics, and parallel park. Look out, world!

So I’m raising my tornado-bathtub glass of wine (yes, there is a wine bottle and a sippy cup in my tornado bag) to all the independent married ladies out there. Because marriage is not the same as being surgically attached, and sometimes marriage pushes us to more independence than our single selves could have imagined.

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  • Welcome to St. Louis! Let’s hang out. And yes to everything you said, I like this short and sweet post affirming that others feel independent too. It doesn’t have to be a state of mind that you strove for or overcame obstacles to achieve, but simply something that is. It is for me, too. Love this type of post for this month of GOOD!

  • Amy Hawkins

    Welcome! I hope you love it here, tornados and all!

  • Another Meg

    Yay Saint Louis! Um yes, Saint Louis book club or something? Or maybe just happy hour?

    I still worry about this, and as my FutureSpouse works from home part-time, I’m working on being alone with someone else in the room. It’s harder than it looks.

    And welcome to tornado land. I hope your building has a basement. :)

    • kcaudad

      I know how you feel on being ‘alone’ when someone is right there… We live in a small 2 bedroom apartment, and the 2nd ‘bedroom’ is my husband’s office… we have had many conversations about how he needs to be left alone when he is working in his office… maybe more space would help ease this situation. Good luck!

      • Another Meg

        OMG yes. I spent a large part of Sunday watching a movie in the living room with him in the sunroom (where he can see the TV but is technically in another room), and I kept forgetting that he was working, so I’d talk to him about the movie. He politely reminded me (like 8 times) that he was working. WHOOPS.
        Thank the gods he has patience.

    • Elisabeth

      Yes to St. Louis book club/happy hour/meet-up!!! Maybe without tornadoes.

      • Ashlyn

        I’ll go ahead and “third” to that STL happy hour or other meet up!

        • Another Meg

          I’m not sure how we could do this. But could we?

          • Amy Hawkins

            Yes, let’s do this — I didn’t even realize there were so many St Louisans on here!

          • Amy Hawkins

            How about anyone interested in a St. Louis meetup email me and we’ll take it from there? My gmail address is “lightistoobright”. Yay St. Louis!

          • KK

            I went to post comments about being in STL and found all these replies…Awesome.

    • “I’m working on being alone with someone else in the room.”

      Such a valid skill! I’m still working on this. I need to have “alone time” in order to function, and for the last nine months my (recently married) husband has been unemployed–and, as a result, at home the vast majority of the time. I actually started to go a little crazy feeling like I was never really alone. It was also hard because he got tons of alone time while I was at work, so he wanted to talk to me and have together time when I got home.

      It took me a long time to really come to terms with the fact that IT’S OK to sit quietly in the corner reading and ignore him for a few hours. I had to start reminding myself, “If I nicely ask him to let me relax alone for a while, I will ultimately be nicer to him when we DO have together time… which trumps feeling like I’m being a jerk right now.” Haha.

      Now he has a new job, so we’re balancing back out… but that was a rough crash course in being alone together!

    • YES PLEASE! I would love love love to meet some lovely STL APW-ers and perhaps share some sippy cup wine.

    • Lindsay

      i’m all in for a meetup in st louis…Amy Hawkins, i’ve sent you an email already :)


  • So true. It’s all I can come up with…

  • I love this…you have really inspired me! Life can have us taking cover in all sorts of ways. Thanks for reminding me it’s ok to be alone in some struggles, and everything will turn out fine. Cheers right back at you!

  • Sarah

    A. I love this.
    B. Wine and a sippy cup in your tornado bag? Freaking Genius!

    A southwest MO girl

  • Hooray!

    I keep chocolate syrup in our food storage. If there’s going to be a disaster or we’re going to be poor, I still want chocolate.

  • Kate

    Lovely article. Was the first line intended as an allusion to “I Capture the Castle,” by any chance? Either way, it made me remember that old novel that my teenaged self used to love, so thanks :)

  • I’m working on stocking our typhoon kit and have added wine, sippy cup to my list. Chocolate is already there. I’m stocking for two, but most likely will face any actual typhoons alone since Raj will spend the bulk of typhoon season galavanting around the Pacific with the Marines. I’ve always been independent, but independent in another country in a strange culture (by which I mean the military) is a whole new brand that I wouldn’t have experienced if I hadn’t gotten married. So yes, raising a coffee cup (it’s 9am) to independent married folks!

  • Anthrolady

    Yes! We are engaged-not-married, but I moved states to be here with him and I know exactly what you mean. After the first few exciting weeks, it is hard to leave everything you know, even if you have someone great to share it with. My mom also did the same thing when she got married back in the 70’s. She said she cried when she first got to the Phoenix desert after living near the OC beach her whole life. You can definitely have a great partner and still have feelings of being alone. It’s great that you focus on the independence rather than the loneliness. :)

  • Have wine and sippy cup, will travel. ;) (Actually, replace the wine with coffee spiked with a shot or two of Bailey’s and THEN we’ll talk.) ;)

  • I love this. Yes, learning to be yourself with someone else is completely strange and awesome. I think I’m still working on that. We make movements throughout the house that have nothing to do with one another and yet, here we are together. It’s just like in Best In Show, when she says, “we both like to talk, and not talk. We both like soup”. Totally different context but true anyway.

  • I love this so much. It was one of the things I think i had to learn, in my relationship with A, before we could decide to get married.

    As a child, to go to Meg’s note before the post, my great and and uncle, to me, were “E and EandJ” respectively. It’s a cute tale to tell as an adult, but makes me think about relational changes and how we are perceived as a unit and as individuals.

  • merryf

    OMG yes! I was terrified when I got married that my independence would disappear. I thought *I* would disappear into the Us-ness of it. I have worked my ass off for almost 3 years to make sure that I’m still myself — I don’t have to do everything he does, he doesn’t have to do everything that I do, and frankly, it’s better if we don’t. The problem sometimes is that he wants to be with me *all* the time and I just can’t handle that. While I need to be alone to rejuvenate, he needs to be with people. So that’s taken some getting used to, and now I encourage/force him out the door to go see his buddies who live about 1 hour away, at least once a month and stay overnight. And it’s totally cool for both of us, because there are those other times when all I want to do is do stuff with him. So I’m trying really hard to get it to even out. And finally at the end of this month I’m able to go away on my own for the weekend for the very first time since we got married. I cannot wait.