I can’t believe I’m writing this. Had you asked me fifteen years ago, when I was 19 years old, whether or not I’d get married, I’d definitely have said no. Absolutely not. Marriage is not for me.
I had plans. I was going to law school. I was entering the Peace Corps.
At the very least I wanted to go out that night that you asked me that question. Not sit on the couch on a Friday night watching The Crown on Netflix. Is there a show with less action? Yet, it’s so very compelling. Now whether that’s because I’m old and boring and married or because Netflix has great content is a debate for another time.
My point is: I was anti-marriage. Marriage was restraining. I couldn’t be tied to an individual while I had so much to do in life.
Instead, fifteen years later, ten and a half years into marriage, look at me now. I’m sitting in a Panera in the very middle of the country, sneaking away from the house for a few hours so I can write the very boring and tedious content blogs for which I receive modest paychecks.
But at the moment, I’m away from the laundry. Away from the muddy footprints that dot our hardwood floors. Away from Tess, who’s surely fighting a nap or a bath or whatever maintenance task Tighe’s imposing on her. Away from the Nerf gun fight that was erupting in our dining room when I left. The twin boys who live across the street had come over and the four boys were rearranging the dining room chairs and some bed sheets into a secure fortress that they could defend against some imaginary foes with Nerf guns and pillows.
That was my cue to leave.
And I don’t even like Panera. But I have a gift card, so it’s hard for me to justify walking a few blocks over to the better coffee shop that has a far superior chai latte.
So, I’m chained to Panera. Much as I’m chained to Tighe and that house and those dirty kids. Except that I’ll leave Panera when I drain this gift card, but I won’t leave Tighe.
Because I’m so empowered. Marriage has empowered me, rather than restrained me.
And I don’t just mean because my meager income has been buttressed by Tighe’s mightier earnings. Or because he earned Southwest’s companion pass last year, which means I can fly for free in 2018. Woohoo!
I mean because Tighe motivates me more than I could ever motivate myself. Not just to get up in the morning. But to be a better person. I have to be a good wife. I have to be a good mom to his kids. Just like he has to be a good dad to my kids. Or else I’ll kick his ass.
It’s not easy and we both make mistakes, but we hold each other accountable in ways that are easier than disciplining oneself. We recognize truths for the other person and walk them there gently. Or sometimes not so gently. We problem-solve through sleepless nights and financial low-points and career blunders and even culinary mishaps.
Tighe’s talked me down from countless parenting ledges.
Most of them start out, “Tighe I swear to God, if he* doesn’t stop [insert violent/destructive/self-harming action here], I’m going to [insert totally irrational and melodramatic, possibly therapy-inducing action here]!”
And because of our commitment to one another—our commitment to be patient, rational, supportive, loving—we’re blessed with endless returns on investment. I’m blessed with humility, laughter, courage, and so much joy that I know I can do so much more with Tighe than without.
So, in an hour or so, I’ll leave Panera and head home. I’ll change the laundry, put fresh sheets on the bed, supervise the cleanup of the dining room chair/sheet fort, feed Tess, Swiffer the floors, order the groceries for the week, and start dinner. Ugh, the work of slaves. The labor of love. Empowering love.
*Coming soon, I’m sure: ““Tighe I swear to God, if she doesn’t stop [insert violent/destructive/self-harming action here], I’m going to [insert totally irrational and melodramatic, possibly therapy-inducing action here]!”
[I actually had this piece written for last week, but the timing seemed off after the women’s marches that weekend. If this seems anti-feminist, it’s not meant to be. I wouldn’t even go as far as claiming that it’s pro-marriage. If anything, it’s pro-Tighe. By the time I got home from Panera that day, he had changed the laundry, put new sheets on the bed, cleaned up the fort, and sent the neighbor kids home. I mean, our kids were still there, but I’m learning to accept that.]