I honestly believe my relationship with my wife is special. Not the kind of special people think of when they say, “You guys are such a fun couple.” Not the kind of special where we’re a “Match Made in Heaven.” Not the kind of special that can be defined through grand gestures on anniversaries and times of accomplishment. I honestly believe my relationship with my wife is special, stronger, and healthier because of the small gestures on a daily basis which are born from how we see each other. We don’t just have that indescribable thing that makes us click…we have open dialogue and mutual understanding of each other. I have been thinking about this because recently I have been asked by a number of people how my marriage is holding up due to my new responsibilities at work. I spend 10-12 hours a day at the office for about a 60 hour work week. In my spare time I am an owner and Managing Partner of a 288 capacity restaurant and entertainment venue. In my spare time I am also the co-founder of a non-profit arts organization which requires weekly duties to manage, promote, and provide upkeep. I recently resigned from a board of directors to open up my schedule so I could spend more time with my family. I still sit on the board for a health clinic that provides services to the public regardless of their ability to pay and I sit on a community board for my city’s downtown development. I am a very active guy…and my wife is no slouch. Aside from being a full-time mom she teaches 3 days a week at the college level, is the CEO and co-founder of our national arts organization which requires her attention on a daily basis 7 days a week, is the president of the board for one of the local museums, is a full-time painter who has just been selected into another publication, and is an organizer on so many committees for our community I can’t keep track. We are a busy couple!
So…how is the relationship doing?
Fine. I won’t sit here and lie, saying “it’s never been better.” That’s not true, entirely. Marriage was much easier when we were in our 20’s, had no kids, worked from home, and were still in the “honeymoon phase.” I had more hair and less belly, we argued over things like where to go out to eat, and at night we cuddled up and laughed about how good our lives were. Now? Most of the time we spend together is putting the kids to sleep, working on our arts organization late at night, relaxing watching TV, or sleeping next to each other which I call “farting next to Kate with my eyes closed.” Marriage is harder now. Marriage can be work, and that’s okay.
Look, we all know that wedding vow: “For better or for worse.” We’ve heard it, we’ve said it, but have we really thought about what “for worse” means? When Kate wanted to move to California for Grad School we gave up our lives in New York, left our jobs behind, and found a way to make it work financially…that’s an easy “worse” to do. I got really sick after our wedding and we missed our honeymoon due to a surgery I needed, but that kind of “worse” is easy to get through and survive because it has a palpable end. My panic attack 3 years ago and going through counseling to get through agoraphobia and rejoin the world was much tougher “worse” to get through, but we did…in fact it brought us closer together. Those are the big “worse” type things that happen to people. Shit happens. Life happens. “Would you still love me if both my arms fell off and I could only talk like a duck?” Yes…yes I’d still love you.
The real “worse” that challenges a relationship is when someone annoys you. I’m annoying…Kate puts up with it. She’s annoying…I’m not as good at putting up with it but that’s because I’m really annoying. Here’s what brought me to this post: I fill out a ton of paperwork for medical things, financials, contracts, etc. Every form there is a section for my “spouse” or “emergency contact.” That is always Kate. Every time there is another field that asks me what her relation to me is and I always write the same thing: “Wife/Best Friend.” That sums it up right there. She is not just my wife, she is my best friend. Think about your best friend. Have you ever gone a long period without talking? Have you fought about stupid stuff? Have you had adventures so silly you cry laughing telling stories. Do they know your secrets? Do you know theirs? That’s a best friend. That should be your spouse.
Some days I love Kate so much my cheeks hurt from smiling. Some days I imagine what life would be like if she fell off a bridge. Some days we hold hands. Some days we don’t. Some days we talk for hours. Some days we just say a cordial “hi” and “bye.” Some days she feels like my soulmate. Some days she feels like my roommate. Some days I can’t wait to crawl into bed and tell her all about my day and hear about hers. Some days I can’t wait to crawl into bed and just turn off the light. Everyday I love her and know she loves me too…but I’m aware that love is different from affection, and I respect the ebb and flow of emotions it requires to be in a long-term monogamous relationship with a person. It requires a foundation of trust and honesty. It requires the ability to go with the punches and evolve. It requires the ability to look forward, not back. It requires a friend…a best friend.
My marriage is not perfect, but I don’t believe in perfection. My marriage is special. I’m married to a special person. She gets me. I get her. Sometimes we loathe each other. Most times we love each other. She is my wife, my best friend, my co-parent, my partner in business; life; adventure; and hardship. Sometimes she is everything to me. Sometimes she is part of everything. I’ve watched so many marriages break up over the past decade for so many reasons, but primarily its been from lack of best friendship. Guess how many of my gay friends’ marriages I’ve seen break up? Zero. I think it’s because their courtships were built on friendship and mutual respect without a legal option to marry…yet straight folks still insist on revoking their rights when they seem to be the most fit to be married and stay in a healthy relationship for life. That’s a different conversation for a different time. However, sometimes I literally have to picture Kate like my male friends and take the attraction out of it…and ask myself what my best friend needs…or what I need from my best friend…and is it realistic?
So to answer everyone’s question about how my marriage is doing now that I’m so busy, it is moving forward and evolving as it always does. We renew our wedding vows every year, because life throws some curveballs at you and you gotta adapt and keep on truckin. I respect Kate. I appreciate her as an individual, as well as my partner, as well as a member of a family unit, and as well as a member of society. I hold her to the same standards I hold myself to, and expect that she do the same for me. Quite simply, I love her. I love her more than anyone will ever know. She is the only one who comes close to understanding how much I love her. I also like her. I like her a lot. She also drives me batshit…so I leave the toilet seat up every now and then and don’t replace the soap bar in the shower.
Kate is my best friend. She is also my wife. That’s the secret to my marriage, and my marriage is special.
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