Auntie SparkNotes: Letter From a Sparkitor!
How do you know you're ready for marriage? I'm a Sparkitor of marrying age, and though I have not been dating my boyfriend long enough to consider marrying him in the near future, I worry that I'll never feel "ready," not even in the distant future. For me, being in love is like, "Okay, some days I want to kiss the inside of your belly button, and some days I want to crush your skull very, very slowly." So how will I ever know if I'm ready? You know, because of the skull-crush days? (Skull crushing boys is not particular to this current boyfriend, btw. I am built a little bit rage-y, I think.)
This problem is also compounded by the fact that I have a VERY CUTE Pinterest wedding board all ready to go. BUT WILL I EVER FEEL READY TO USE IT?!?!? How does a lady ever know?!
An adoring Sparkitor
This is a very good question! And fortunately, it's one which I feel at least a little bit qualified to answer, as I myself have been married to Mr. Auntie SparkNotes for just over five years. Five lovely years. Five magical years!
Except, of course, for those rare but nevertheless very real occasions on which I want to rip his face off and feed it to the cat. (Usually but not always, these instances coincide with him standing over my shoulder while I am cooking, making vague, snotty comments about how he would have sauteed the chicken differently, WHATEVER THE @#%$ THAT MEANS.)
Which is to say: Even when you love someone enough to sincerely and legitimately decide that you want to spend the rest of your life by his side, that doesn't mean you'll never also have days when you sincerely and legitimately want to murder him until he is dead.
Here's the thing, though: I think that's okay. I don't think it's even unusual. It's the nature of human feelings to ebb and flow, to have highs and lows, and that emotional vacillation is something you can see at work in your whole life, not just your love life. Your dream job, your favorite food, your hottest pair of jeans, your very best friend: even if your love for these things runneth over most of the time, there are still bound to be moments when they seem tiresome, unappealing, ill-fitting, annoying. And that's because human beings don't just spend their lives in a state of homeostatic ecstasy over anything or anyone, no matter how deeply and truly we adore them.
So, as human beings, our best chance at a happy, lasting relationship is to a) find someone we're ecstatic to be with a lot of the time, b) with whom we're easy and content most of the rest of the time, and then c) on the rare occasions that we reach face-ripping, skull-crushing levels of frustration, to deal with our feelings like motherfranking adults—preferably in the form of highly mature "When you x, I feel y" statements. (Ex: "Darling, when you micromanage my chicken-making, I feel like I want to rip your face from your skull, and then make out with the mailman while you bleed to death.")
And with that in mind, here's a by-no-means-authoritative, but-hopefully-helpful set of guidelines for feeling reasonably sure about your marital readiness. Because you are probably ready for marriage...
- When you're not just willing to make decisions with his happiness in mind, but when you care about his happiness so much that you want to.
- When being with this person makes you feel like the best, most un-guarded, and most authentic version of yourself… even if yourself is a person who occasionally struggles with the desire to crush skulls.
- When you know from experience that you can communicate with this person on tough subjects like your debts, your values, your goals in life, your relationship conflicts, and your preferred brand of toilet paper—and that though you may have moments during these conversations wherein you sincerely want to crush his skull, you're able to reach a resolution without any actual skull-crushing.
- When you can admit it and apologize if you did something not-so-awesome, and when you're willing to work hard to channel your worst impulses more productively, because you value the health of your relationship over your own catharsis.
- When the idea of having to reach an agreement with this person about what to cook for dinner, almost every night, for the rest of your life, doesn't make you want to scream.
And above all:
- When it's so easy to be happy with this person that deciding to get married just isn't that hard.
Which is such a terrible "When you know, you know!" cliche in disguise, and I'm sorry. But the truth is, when you're at a place where you're ready to get married, the commitment won't feel like some sort of crazy crapshoot that you can't possibly know whether to make. It's not that you won't have a single doubt or concern ever again about taking the plunge—moving forward with 100% certainty is the luxury of little decisions, not life-changing ones—but what you will feel is pretty comfortable. And reasonably confident. And like you're taking the natural next step on a path which, even if it has the occasional rough patch or roadblock, is by and large an extremely easy one to walk.
Because ultimately, most of your marriage—and your life—is going to fall somewhere in between the extremes of navel-licking bliss or red-hot rage. Sometimes it'll be challenging, sometimes it'll be exhilarating. But mostly, it'll be alarm clocks, and bathroom cleaning, and coming home on a weeknight with nothing more exciting to do than order Chinese takeout and watch House of Cards. And when you feel like all that mundane day-to-dayness would be just as good, if not better, if this one particular person were there with you on a permanent basis? Then dust off that Pinterest board, young grasshopper, and go get adorably wed. Please send pictures. And cake.
Got something to say? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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