Thursday, June 9, 2016

Marriage or Something Like It

It's no secret that over the past 8 years of knowing Katie (7 of dating her) that I've grown and matured to appreciate her a lot more than I initially did. In fact, I appreciate her so much now, that I married her this two weeks ago under the pine tree cathedral of the Grassy Hollow Amphitheater. I was thoroughly convinced that each and every word of my vows was meaningful and true, yet 7 years ago I wouldn't have believed I would ever say them to Katie. I believe that we've both grown, but within my own mind I've left behind former conservative impressions of what a wife should be. Below is a letter to myself and to any other young adult contemplating the idea of a life long marriage.

"I thought that a wife cooked every night for their husband."
 Though Katie might argue that I only marginally "cook", I have ended up preparing more meals for the highly valid reason that she is a brilliant writer that adds a lot of interesting and funny stories to the world (and makes pretty good money off freelance writing). I love reading her work in magazines or online and it makes me want to heat up even more TJ's frozen pizzas and Quinoa burgers to keep her at it.

"I thought a wife always had to be put together"
Katie refers to her loose hairs in her run bun as "stragglies", which usually is used when she's looking at a picture of herself and saying "Boy, I had a lot of stragglies, I must've been working hard." That right there is the exact definition of what makes Katie a great wife: she works really hard and doesn't hold herself back with insecurity about her hairdo or make-up status.

"I thought wives had to be perfect"
Watch a traditional American sitcom, and there's usually a wive that is constantly making all the right moves, taking care of the kids and the comedically irresponsible husband, preparing a dinner that makes Martha Stewart look sloppy, making completely infallible decisions, and keeping her perfect streak of being a perfect wife going strong. Even still in hipster terms, perfection might be having a passion for volunteering for human rights programs or having a high paying job or leading a new workout class. I wouldn't say that Katie doesn't do some of those things, but sometimes she sleeps in and misses a run, makes a bad decision, or forgets to pack something for a trip. Be that as it may, she generally doesn't go nuts that her streak of perfection or impressive accomplishments is broken. When I was looking for a lady, this short sided idea of perfect living actually made me blind to a lot of other great things she does well like forgiving, being supportive, making fun of me, joining me on runs up big mountains, and cuddling me after a long day which is a lot more valuable than "perfection".

"I thought a wife always had to follow the lead of her husband" 
There's several trips that I personally plan each year, but there's also a ton of races or adventures that Katie pulls me towards and helps me discover. She's my equal, and I don't tell her to be quiet (unless there's a bear outside our tent) or tell her she doesn't know what she's talking about. I learn things from her, and I love the adventures she's taken me on. If I didn't have someone uniquely adventurous like her, I'd miss out on a lot of really interesting stuff.

Photo by Vinny Grossman

"I thought a wife was supposed to be shy and polite"
Katie is a ball of joy. On a rare occasion she can be quiet, but she's generally chatting it up with friends or razzing me about my Dom-isms. Sometimes she's fiery, and sometimes I get burned by her in a really funny joke, but she generally just speaks to me with no fear of judgement or criticism. Those unique Katie-isms like the cute way she talks or the sharpness of her Missouri "D-aaah-mm" are worthy of being shouted from a ridge mid-run.

"I thought wives had to always be sophisticated and elegant"
Katie definitely was exceptionally elegant at the wedding, but she spends most of her time in t-shirts and jeans or running gear. She is my best friend, and that usually means conversations consisting of lame jokes and extra nerdy puns. She's not afraid to heckle and be heckled for days on end even if she isn't conservatively lady-like. Through it all, even if she isn't elegant in the moment.. it's an undeniable truth that she can clean up pretty damn well.

"I thought a wife would never match my affection and love because I'm a crazy Italian guy."
Perhaps the biggest constant about Katie is her unconditional love for me. I get it that sometimes my hairstyles and behavior don't make me the most attractive guy, but she doesn't ever stop letting me know that she loves me. She has quieted an insecurity in me that used to cause me to constantly stoke the fire in a relationship through all sorts of insane antics. It was a major vice that made me difficult to be around, but she's the first to have fulfilled my daily need for ample love and affection.

"I thought wives had to be judgmental and condemning matriarchs"
Katie and I do judge right and wrong in the world, but we spend a lot more time in the Buddhist mindset of accepting that other individual's pursuit of happiness (though possibly destructive to others pursuit of happiness) is not an invalid request. We believe everyone should be allowed to find happiness, and we have sympathy for those that do so in ways that hurt us. Having someone like that who is a free-thinker and capable of having very difficult empathy is such an important foundation for me to keep hope in our crazy world. Call her a hippy for it (but also call Kate Martini Freeman or Krista Olsen hippies) but it's genuinely a necessary key to happiness.

So, if any of that above makes sense to you (whether you're a guy or girl), I can generally state that you've got a shot at happiness in matrimony. Take it from me, a married man of 11 days, partner of Katie of 7 years, the quotations "I thought wives were supposed to..." above are the furthest thoughts from a happy mind.

Photos by Jayme Burtis


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