Sunday, January 9, 2011
My Relationship in Reality
One of my Facebook friends, an acquaintance I know from junior high and high school, recently posted the following as his status:
“Last night I found the receipt for the engagement ring I gave to my ex-fianceè. Getting engaged was, to this point, the single most horrendously stupid thing I've ever done in my life. Walking away from it was probably the best and wisest thing I've ever done.”
It got me thinking about my own relationship. My first thought when I read it was, “Getting engaged was the single best decision I’ve ever made in my life.”
This relationship has had its ups and downs, but overall it has been everything I have needed. It has been the greatest catalyst for change and self-improvement in my life. People talk about commitment as prison or a ball and chain, but that fails to capture the whole picture. Monogamy is like having your conscience come to life, Jiminy Cricket-style. I have found my character has improved because don’t want to justify acting on my bad impulses to my partner, a person I admire and respect.
More importantly, and I realize exactly how cheesy this sounds, it has multiplied the joy in my life and divided the sorrow. Whenever anything good happens to me, my reflex is to tell Chuk; his excitement amplifies my own happiness. Whenever anything good happens to him, I am as delighted or more than he is, often because I have a pride in him that he is too modest to have in himself. And when something bad happens I have a partner to support me and shoulder half of the burden of sadness.
Most of the time, life together isn’t at either of these extremes. Most of the time there is only the banality of everyday life, but life as a single person can be monotonous too.
A snapshot of my evening: Chuk made the weirdest dinner I have ever eaten in my life. We had a baked potato, served with cooked spinach on the side and burnt walnuts that he had sprinkled sugar on. I lied and told him it was good. Later, when I got out of the shower, I asked him to wax my upper lip for me, which he did without judgment. (I think he likes looking at the wax strip with all the little hairs afterward.)
When I imagined marriage, I certainly didn’t envision sparing feelings about bizarre-o dinners or having the guy I make-out with know about my issues with facial hair, but there you have it. Monogamy is about selflessness, overcoming vanity, moments of intense highs and lows, and lots of other things that don’t fit cleverly on a tee-shirt, but it’s still the best thing in my life.