The Myth of the Boring Marriage
By Sheana Ochoa
Last week a married acquaintance shared with me that she was finding marriage boring. She remembered the “good ole days” when she made all the decisions, could spontaneously take a trip if she wanted, buy the big priced item without having to discuss it first, go out with friends and not have to check in.
I can see where she’s coming from, going from a freewheeling single girl to a married woman, but I don’t identify with being bored. We’re in our second year of marriage and just the fact that I started this sentence with “we” as opposed to “I” speaks volumes.
Mine, like most I suppose, is a marriage under construction. Sure it was frustrating spending six months looking for a new apartment because my husband never agreed with the places I thought would work. Sure it was infuriating when, once we moved into a place that met our criteria, one of which was to allow us to have a dog, I couldn’t just go out and rescue the first dog I saw, but had to wait until my husband was free and then suffer going to three different rescue centers. I am slowly understanding the word compromise in action. But I don’t find the process at all boring.
I can count the times in my life on one hand that I have been bored. Maybe that’s another way of saying my life has been drama-filled, but even when life is not all peaks and valleys, when I hit a few days or weeks of plateau, I’m never bored. There’s too much to be done, and as if I didn’t have enough “work” (raising a son, my writing career, practicing being present) there’s so many other causes in the world -from cheering up a sick friend to querying the press about a Syrian artist I know whose current exhibit is a statement about the massacre going on in her country that leaves you struck with the power of the imagination to cope with injustice and fear. (See below for details). And those are just two random examples of seemingly urgent tasks I sometimes don’t have time to get to because there’s not enough time on any given day like today.
Boredom is an uncomfortable state (which could be restless, weary, depressed but always uncomfortable) due to a lack of interest. What a terrible conundrum: to be miserable because you don’t give a damn. That sounds self-inflicting, but I imagine there are people who just aren’t motivated, or who just can’t get outside the walls of their mind/ego to be invested in anyone other than themselves.
Sometimes the desire to achieve my goals and dreams seems Sisyphean. For instance, I want to visit Nimule in Sudan and meet some of the children orphaned by war and see what I can do to help. I want to write a socially conscious musical although I don’t play an instrument or even sing. I want to open a shelter for chemically dependent single mothers. The list goes on and on and my life isn’t long enough, nor do I have the resources to do all I want to do. Just writing this article is the closest I’ll get to the musical today. Perhaps holding the door open for a fragile-looking mom at the supermarket and sending a donation to Nimule is the closest I’ll get today. And lest you think I have digressed from my opening premise of being bored in a marriage, my marriage is a microcosm of the bigger picture.
The marriage is itself a project and thus defies boredom. I have to figure out all sorts of things such as how do I learn to take care of the way I say certain things because I tend to be abrasive? How do I let him know I need him, which I do, but I can see how it wouldn’t look that way? How do I help us create intimacy? How do I support his big goals and dreams?
I feel as if I’m complaining about not being bored, about having such a full life there’s no time to be bored. Perhaps I am. Perhaps not being bored is as ego driven as being bored. Either way I don’t see how any marriage could be boring, unless of course it’s loveless. In the end, I’m striving for some kind of balance, where I can be proud of what I accomplish or don’t accomplish on any given day like today.
* “I Rise,” paintings by Fadia Afashe, a Syrian painter’s exhibit now showing through November 30 at Levantine Cultural Center