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  • Lindsey Garner

The Construct of Marriage


Every week, my husband and I go to marriage counseling. Well, we don’t “go” anywhere, because we don’t live in the same state, but we dial into a phone number, and a lovely man in a different state facilitates conversation and guides us through some tough situations and and sticking points. Guys, isn’t technology great? This guy, in a totally different time zone is able to do this for us even though we don’t live anywhere near one another, or him. If this was 10 years ago, we may not have had these tools. So freaking cool. Anyway, I digress. Lately, we have talked a lot about what marriage looks like to us, and it’s made me think. A lot.

When we are children, we get this idea given to us about what our future looks like. We get told, “you’re going to grow up, fall in love and get married”, or maybe that narrative is “you don’t need a man! You can do it all on your own”, or maybe we are never told anything, but we see a struggle within our parent or parents that we pick up on. Maybe we see parents that never fight, and assume that marriage should be this way for us too. We see TV shows, and movies where a husband and wife live together, have 2.5 children, busy careers and lives and sit down to dinner every night together. These things build our story; they give us a framework. These things all tell us what we believe to be the “right way” to do things. This stuff sticks.

Then, you grow up, and start seeing the behind the scenes. You realize that often times, the actual wedding is really just the start, rather than the destination. You learn that you may not really want to do things like your parents did them. Maybe you listen to yourself when you feel the pull for something different, or maybe you don’t. You might date a shit ton of people and NEVER find anyone that lives up to what you think is required for that level of partnership. Either way, you’re bound to encounter some challenges that look totally new to you based on your ideas of what you “should” do.

Six weeks ago, when my husband and I decided to separate and commit six months to figuring out if our marriage was really what we wanted, I stepped back, or rather stepped forward and asked myself what I wanted marriage to look like. For a long time, I thought it meant a husband that was home every night for dinner. I thought it meant a partnership in the traditional sense of the word, with us operating side by side and living in a shared space that was both of ours. Turns out, my original narrative was based off something that is total bullshit: a story I picked up on from those around me that I looked up to or respected. I thought, “oh, that couple seems so happy, and I really like them...maybe we should have what they have”. I didn’t see a strong marriage growing up, so I had zero idea of what that could be, and I was starting from scratch. I created a mental P

interest board (believe me, it looked just as random as your Pinterest board of random recipes you collect) of things I picked up on here and there from other people and made my own imaginary version of marriage.  I never stopped to think about what I wanted or what truly made me happy. But I am now, so here’s what I’ve decided:

I want a husband (or honestly, maybe not a husband, but a partner) that I can be 100% myself with, someone that loves that I’m not super put together. They see my messy bun and lack of makeup for what it is for me; a desire to spend time on other things. They recognize the hard work I do and appreciate my independence. This man isn’t threatened by my desire to earn a lot of money, and truly support myself, but rather embraces that and is proud of me for that . This man is also an achiever, and wants to push himself to be his best. He likes real conversation, and doesn’t shy away from a conversation that we don’t agree on but rather listens and understands my perspective, even though my thoughts conflict with his. This guy notices beauty around him, and adores the outdoors and the power of nature as much as I do. He is humbled by the size of mountains and the colors of a sunset. He is honest, hard working and doesn’t back down from a fight. This man knows who he is, and isn’t afraid to own the hell out of that. He loves to laugh, and doesn’t take life too seriously.

Honestly, that’s it. Nowhere in that list does it say “this man is home every night, or sitting by my side at the dinner table”. It doesn’t say “raises my daughter as his own”. Nowhere on that list is “has a credit score of 800 and 20K in the bank”. Also missing is “takes family photos yearly in matching outfits”.

There it is. Marriage doesn’t look like a sitcom for me, unless it’s a weird sitcom where the people may spend the majority of their time camping in seperate locations.

My push to you is to truly ask yourself what you want. You deserve it. Think big. You deserve that too. What makes you happy? Then set about getting it.

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