I believe strongly in keeping my marriage sacred.
Now, for those of you that know me, don’t freak out: I haven’t converted to an organized religion. What I mean when I say sacred is this: my marriage is a special, fun, comfortable, loving secret club of two and I want to keep it that way forever.
I’ve noticed, in the few months that Jonathon and I have been married, that although people around our age (late 20s, early 30s) seem to want to get married, not many of us focus really hard on keeping our marriages sacred once we do get married. It’s not that we blatently disrespect our marriges, it’s just that a lot of people fall into the conventional societal habits that can cause a marriage to wilt.
And if you know anything about me, it’s that I hate convention. I don’t believe in doing things that other people do just because other people do them.
In that vein, I realized that Jonathon and I do some very intentional things to keep our marriage a secret club of two and keep it as sacred as possible, so I wanted to talk about them here.
1. We put each other first, all the time.
I have never had to question where I stand with my husband and I know he’d say the same. It sounds like a no-brainer, but too often, couples start to prioritize everything else: their families, their jobs, their extracurriculars.
Between Jonathon and I, it’s not like either of us gives up activities for our marriage. It’s more like we’re both aware that the other would drop anything else for our marriage in a heartbeat. And it’s really, really fucking nice to have that strong partnership with someone.
Putting each other first allows us to maintain our special secret club and it ensures that other people in our lives know that our marriage comes first.
2. We don’t make stupid marriage jokes.
I can’t stand those stupid fucking marriage jokes that people make.
“A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend.
A successful woman is one who can find such a man.”
“Anyone who says their wedding day was the best day of their life, has obviously never had 2 candy bars fall down at once from a vending machine.”
“Marriage is a workshop, where a man works and a woman shops.”
Sure, you might think they are funny, but to me, they just feel like they’re thinly-veiled insults and critiques hurled at married couples. I hate the idea that people think it’s totally acceptable to make crappy marriage jokes to married people because all marriages are supposed to be the same. And I especially hate that married couples sometimes actually make these jokes themselves.
Jonathon and I never make these jokes and we’re a better couple for it. By valuing our marriage and our vows, even when we’re joking with others, we continue to maintain our special, sacred club.
3. We never, ever, EVER badmouth each other to friends or family (even in jest).
We’ve all been around that couple that (a) only has bad things to say about each other when their partner isn’t around and/or (b) makes not-so-subtle jabs at their partner in public. I never want to be either of these couples, and Jonathon and I discussed how important it was to keep our marriage our marriage before we tied the knot.
Interestingly, many people will read this and think to themselves, “I don’t do that” but the truth is that it’s an accepted practice in the American culture to talk about your spouse and their annoying habits kind of willy-nilly to friends. So you may not be intentionally badmouthing them, but every time you say “Oh my husband does this and it really bothers me” or “Oh my wife did this super irritating thing the other day”, you’re letting people into the vulnerabilities of what should be your relationship.
This might be extreme, but I even believe that when you tell other people you and your spouse are constantly fighting, it increases the distance in your marriage.
People do it over coffee or drinks or sports – it’s a very common thing in our culture to talk about your spouse negatively. And it’s far less common to gush over each other and how wonderful you think your spouse is and how happy you are – which is, obviously, bullshit.
Jonathon and I gush about each other every single chance we get, because we’re fucking happy as fuck, we don’t fight at all, and we don’t believe in badmouthing our marriage just to relate to others.
In fact, we’ve even lost friends because of the fact that we’re happy (more on that in another post), which is insane, but speaks to the fact that we’re all used to being miserable just because misery loves company.
As a side note, I’m ALL for therapy. I love therapy, I really believe in it, and I think everyone should do it. That said, I think apart from that, relationships should maintain their sacredness by only speaking positively about each other.
4. We maintain our emotional loyalty just as much as our physical loyalty.
I’m not a huge believer in monogamy – everyone that knows me knows this. That said, I do believe in maintaining the bounds of the relationship the two of you have decided on – so if it’s physical openness but emotional exclusivity, respecting that line is just as important as respecting a traditional monogamous line.
My views on this, I think, are a product of my two cultures. In the American culture, we prioritize independence and freedom from our relationships. In the Indian culture, we prioritize the relationship – marital, familial, or otherwise. What that means in practice is that while American people are more likely to be married and think to themselves, “I can have a close bond with a member of the opposite sex, it’s fine!” Indian people are more likely to think to themselves, “Why put myself in this situation that could confuse feelings? My marriage is the most important, better to value that.”
Although I highly value my own freedom, I realized that as I’ve aged, my views on marriage might be more informed by the Indian side of me. Freedom and openness to everyone and everything is great, but intentionally putting yourself in a shitty situation that could negatively effect your marriage isn’t worth it.
5. We talk about everything.
This morning I literally asked Jonathon if he sometimes wished I’d just shut up. He laughed and kissed me and said of course not – he likes talking as much as I do.
The two of us talk about everything: the sun, the moon, the sky, the weather, the Orange-haired Goblin, politics, food, animal rights, sex, families, friends, school, work…literally everything. It’s one of our favorite things to do to hang out on our couch, doing some of our art that we like, and chatting.
To me, part of the sacredness of marriage is the openness that only exists with your spouse. I would never reveal my deepest thoughts to anyone but him and I expect he feels the exact same way. Maintaining that closeness by talking is really important to keep your relationship sacred.
6. We connect every chance we get.
Jonathon and I have a lot of sex – that much is apparent. It’s not just because we’re both highly sexual (although that’s true, too). It’s because sex is one of the things married couples have that is really special and private and unique to their long-term relationship and it’s a great opportunity to connect.
Jonathon and I also conect a lot in other ways: We have arts and crafts that we like and do together, we workout together, we go to music festivals and travel together. We are always trying to connect with each other in both big ways and little ones and we’re a stronger, happier couple because of it.
7. We respect and support each other – in private and public.
Not only do I call Jonathon “the best husband in the world” on social media a lot, I also say this to him in our apartment a lot. Actually, more than once per day, I’ll just walk up to him and say “Thank you for being the best husband in the world.” I also respect him as an individual first – moreso than just my husband – and I like to support every single thing he does, whether it’s a Board exam for his profession or his first meetup with new friends.
And he’s the same with me. He’s constantly telling me how lucky he feels and how he can’t believe that I picked him. He supports every single whim I have – some days I want to go to med school, other days I want to live in the jungle and he supports it all.
The important thing is that we do this both privately and publicly. It’s always clear to our friends and family how much we respect each other and how much we support each other, and that’s an intentional choice to maintain our marriage unit.
Keeping our marriage sacred was a big priority to both of us when we decided to tie the knot. We even had moments where we were talking about this stuff and looked at each other like “but are we NUTS, though?” Ultimately, we decided that we weren’t nuts and that if we wanted to treat our marriage differently than other people, that was just us being us.
I’m happy we did – because now I get to feel like I have a secret, fun, sleepover, adventurous club with my best friend.