Dear Miss Kaling,
I would like to respond to the chapter in your book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, entitled “Married People Need to Step it Up”. To give you a little bit of information about myself, I have been married to a man for nearly four years, and we have been together for about five. After I read this chapter, I thought that maybe I had always been right in that I was Indian in a past life, and that obviously, you and I are soul mates. But I digress! Your faith in the institution of marriage, and hope for other marrieds (we’ll refer to those legally wed or those involved in long-term, co-habitational, monogamous situations as “marrieds” from now on) has sparked something inside of me. Please allow me to express my personal situation to you and to reinforce that you can still maintain hope in marriage.
Marriage is a tricky beast. I found myself engaged after three and a half months of knowing this fella, we’ll call him “Mike”, which is coincidentally his real name. We wed a year after that and have been going strong for nearly half a decade. When we first announced our intentions to friends and family, some words that infiltrated our bliss were, “crazed, insane, wow (in the most negative of terms), are you sure?, why?, and my personal favorite, ‘don’t do it Jill, he’s mad clingy'”, to name a few. After the marriage, a good amount of our “close” friends fell off the face of the earth and we are still awaiting smoke signals or a flare to alert us as to their whereabouts.
When we got engaged, we discussed the kind of relationship that we wanted so no one was surprised by some hidden and crazy stuff. I didn’t want to change my last name, I would not be expected to wait on him or his friends unless it was my choice, I was not into traditional male/female gender roles, and if we had kids I wanted them baptized (which he disagreed with but we’ll deal with that when and if it happens). As our time together progresses, some of these things will change, morph and disappear, and that’s okay as long as we have an understanding of what each other wants out of this thing called marriage (or maw-widge, Princess Bride style).
So we said those oh so sacred vows given to us by the justice of the peace who we found on the internet and picked because Mike thought that he looked cool. Shortly after, people began to ask me in a tone that could only be reserved for asking how one’s latest herpes outbreak is healing, how marriage was going. It was going great, and still is! I find marriage to be extremely easy, much easier than I thought it would be. The problem was, and is, that for some reason, I have found that when most people, single or married, ask me how marriage is going, there seems to be an underlying tone and insinuation that they hope it’s not going well. I don’t know if this is because their marriage is not going great, or because they are single and want to be married. Let me say right now that there are single and married people who are truly happy that we’re not pulling a Titanic, but admittedly I find them to be few.
Please let me list a few reasons why I find marriage to be so easy:
-Joint checking and savings account. I always have money now!
-Rent is cheaper
-I always have a date, every night of the week, and when I don’t want a date because I want to be alone, he’s cool with that.
-When I gained 22 pounds just before the wedding, he said he didn’t even notice and swears to this day that he never could see a difference.
-I can talk in circles about how much I hate a co-worker that he’s never even met, and his eyes only slightly glaze over.
-He’s totally cool with eating cheese and pickles, frozen egg rolls or artichoke dip at 11:30 at night.
-He converted to being a vegetarian because it made things much easier in our house.
-I can leave my reusable, blood stained pads to dry on our shower rod after being hand-washed in our bathroom sink without one word of disgust.
By this point, you may be seething because how can anyone’s marriage be that great? She’s full of it!
Well I usually am, but in this situation I’m not. Marriage, as in any long-term situation where two people live together, is trying. Sometimes it is hard that someone is always there. Sometimes I want to watch The Real Housewives of Abu Ghraib (wait for it…) and he wants to watch something boring entailing Buster Keaton. And yes, the temptation has been there to flirt with another guy. But in the short years I’ve been with Mike, I think that the keys to sustaining a committed relationship are:
-Honesty and communication (Seriously. If you are thinking of cheating, for example, tell you partner and figure out a solution if you want to salvage your relationship. Can you see a pattern yet? No? You will. Mike, if you ever cheat on me I will throw you down the stairs.)
-Focusing on the positive
-Expecting that sometimes shit isn’t always good between the two of you, but knowing that it’ll be okay because you love each other and you’re married.
-Knowing that no matter how bad shit is, you are not going to cheat, either emotionally or physically because you’re married. And if you didn’t believe in marriage, then why did you get married? And if you don’t believe in marriage as was agreed upon by you and your spouse, then get a divorce.
Do I ever think about the fact that I will never date another person? Have I ever thought about how weird it is that I will only see one person naked forever? Yes and yes. Once in a short while, I do see someone good-looking on the train or meet someone funnier than Mike. Would I ever leave Mike or cheat on him? Of course not, because cute and/or funny can also be bat shit crazy. Also, I’m in it to win it. I believe in the marriage that I signed up for which includes monogamy, love, honesty, and constantly reminding each other that if we choose to have kids, we will always tell them that we love them and kiss and hug them and each other daily. And after all, who else can I fart in front of without only slight judgement?
Sincerely, your new bestie,
p.s. I also LOVE Joni Mitchell’s album, Blue. It’s my favorite one.