Marriage: A Delicate Balancing Act
By: Sheana Ochoa
I don’t know where to begin.
Years ago after attending a friend’s wedding I wrote an essay on the origin of marriage and the subjugation of women. I didn’t think I’d ever get married. In my culture even the language reflects a misogynistic attitude toward the institution. Esposa is wife. Esposas are handcuffs.
And now here I am over a year into my marriage and boy is it challenging. This isn’t a bad thing. But if there were academic degrees in maturity, marriage would be a requirement. There’d be a graduate course just for people like me: Growing Up 101. Oddly, I don’t face the same challenges being a parent as I do being a wife.
I’m almost four years into parenting and I’ve discovered the name of the game is consistency. Consistency I can do. Brushing teeth twice a day, clipping fingernails once a week so no one gets scratched at preschool, bedtime rituals. I excelled in school so the whole responsibility track comes first hand. Also, my son has to do pretty much what I say so there’s no compromising. I love him unconditionally so I’m eternally patient. Just these three principles: compromise, unconditional love, and patience would go a long way if they translated from parenting into being a partner in marriage, but it ain’t that easy.
I don’t want to compromise. I know what’s right. So, just do it my way.
I can’t love my partner unconditionally because he’s forever not doing things my way. I can’t be patient with him for the same reason. Yet, as long as I listen to an ego that tells me I know what’s best, growing up is impossible. And yet I’m learning that if I don’t grow up, the marriage can’t work. I have to compromise, even when I think he’s wrong. I have to love him unconditionally even if he’s not doing what I want him to do. I have to be patient, because if you can’t respect and be tolerant of your partner, how can you expect whole countries to get along and the world to live in perfect harmony, which is what we all fundamentally want, right? Okay, that was a big leap, but I’m serious. I used to say that if women ran the world, there would be no war. Well, I have to revise that. If I can’t keep my own household harmonious how could I do so for an entire nation?
I don’t know what I thought marriage would be like. A house full of laughter and the smell of dinner on the stove? Sometimes it is like that. And sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it smells like dirty clothes and it sounds like raised voices in a heated discussion about something as trivial as returning the Netflix. Still, it’ s new. We have a lot to learn about each other. We’re just settling in. The trick, I’m learning, is to not stop communicating. And, although it’s difficult to do, I have to let him get his way too. (Damnit!) That’s something I should have learned in preschool, right? I watch my son letting others play with a toy that he prefers (compromise), waiting his turn (patience), sharing his treats (unconditional love). And I think I must have missed those lessons. Thank goodness my husband picked them up somewhere.
It’s a delicate balancing act, marriage. One wobbly step at a time…