Sometimes. Just sometimes. Smartmom thinks marriage is a completely crazy concept.
Just because you love someone doesn’t mean you’re capable of sharing a cramped, rent-stabilized apartment and raising a pair of iconoclastic kids.
Just because you love someone doesn’t mean you can share a bathroom, a closet, and a checking account.
Just because you love someone doesn’t mean you’re proficient at conducting the business of your lives together.
In other words, just because you love someone doesn’t mean you’re any good at being married.
Twenty years ago this July, Smartmom and Hepcat got married at the swank Lotus Club on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. It was a lovely wedding complete with an African mbira player, a Mexican polka band and a very angular jazz pianist.
Their friends had a great time. Their relatives had a great time. Even Hepcat and Smartmom had a great time.
But neither of them, for the life of them, can remember a word of their wedding vows. Maybe it was nerves. Maybe it was because their flower girl was having a hysterical crying fit during most of the proceedings.
Smartmom thinks they signed on to love and honor one another. She’s pretty sure interfaith Rabbi Bert didn’t saying anything about obeying.
Whatever they said, they said it in front of a loving community of family and friends. Then, Hepcat, looking unbelievably handsome — and young — in his father’s double-breasted tuxedo, stomped on the light bulb (in place of the customary wine glass) that marks the end of the ceremony and the beginning of the couple’s life together.
Trouble is no one ever sat them down and told them what to expect.
No one gave them the “Idiot’s Guide to Being Married” for a wedding present.
No one told them that sometimes they’d feel like a set of conjoined twins
No one prepared them for the fact that they’d spend a small fortune on couple’s counseling. Or that one day, they’d be too tired — and distracted — to contemplate sex.
Ah, back before their wedding day, it was all so simple. Who cared about hampers, invoices, and middle school applications?
They enjoyed the same East Village restaurants; dancing at the Palladium and walking through the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art.
And they had sex — and lots of it.
And then life happened. They lived through a high-risk pregnancy, an economic upheaval or two; the illness and death of relatives and friends; the continuing adventures of being parents; working too hard, not sleeping enough, delayed paychecks, COBRAs and all the rest.
They learned that there was more to life — and marriage — than the giddy fun of being a couple in the first throes of pre-marital love.
This was much on Smartmom’s mind recently in the aftermath of a heated argument with Hepcat about, er, something — it has already slipped her mind.
It could have been about cleaning up the living room, or that their communication skills (even after all these years) are not exactly top notch.
Smartmom got to thinking how hard it is, sometimes, to be married.
She even wondered why she bothers with the whole enterprise anyway. Maybe it would just be easier to move to her own minimalist white apartment with blank walls, white carpets and loads of sunlight.
So Smartmom took a long walk as she often does when she needs to think alone. It was an icy cold January night and the temperature outside was bracing. As she walked, she felt the rage dissipate and some soft feelings return. She even found herself thinking about some of the things she loved about Hepcat in the first place.
Miraculously, it all came back in a lyrical montage: Hepcat’s distinctive square chin, intelligent face and wicked sense of humor; the first time he showed her his family’s California walnut farm; the hand-painted Ford pickup truck he used to drive around New York City; the time he asked, just a few months after they met, what she wanted to name their children; the way he held both of their children after her C-sections in the delivery room. Singing softly, he stared into their eyes; the way he ... well that’s private. You can’t be a blabberpuss about everything.
Sure, he drives Smartmom crazy. They didn’t fight over the silliest things and lose sight of why they got together in the first place.
But it’s all part of the package. Part of that imperfect concept. Marriage.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Hepcat.