Monday, February 22, 2010

The Marriage Equation

"Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance."
- Charlotte Lucas
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Image from - taken from the book, The Making of Pride and Prejudice (which I own) by Sue Birtwistle and Susie Conklin

I'm not sure how I feel about Charlotte's comical pronouncement, but I do actually recognize that a person can never really know how marriage will turn out. Recognizing this...I am here to say that I have been uncommonly lucky (fortunate, blessed - pick your happy adjective) in marriage.

Dr. D was at a conference this last week in CA, while I stayed home in ID until I decided that I needed to get out of the snow bank and visit my mom and sisters for a couple of days in SLC. Dr. D was also gone earlier in the month to another conference.

When he is gone I feel that I am not totally myself. I get more accomplished when he is here, I feel happier, more outgoing, calmer, and so on and on. I actually feel a void in my life when Dr. D is not near (at least near enough to come home at night).

When I was in college, one of my Senior courses was a discussion of love and marriage in literature. It was an awesome beyond awesome class. In one of our very memorable discussions, our professor lead us in an exploration of the proper equation for a good marriage. Why were we talking about math in an English class? Hopefully this will make sense in a minute...

We talked about the 1/2 + 1/2 = 1 equation quite a bit. Most people I know think of marriage in these terms. Before they are married they are looking for the one person who will make them "whole". In fact you find this theme a lot in literature - people looking for the other half of their soul, people who are very fragmented and need to find another fragmented person who can combine to make each other perfected, etc.

In our examination, we (the class members), rejected the above equation in favor of the 1 x 1 = 1 equation. In short, we felt that each person in the marriage should be a whole person joining with another person to make a unified and strong partnership (a good literary example might be Lizzy and Darcy, but you will have to make your own evaluation of that one). I was not married at the time I took that class, but I sincerely hoped that if I ever did get married I would live the 1 x 1 = 1 kind of marriage I had come to appreciate in that class.

I married Dr. D almost a year after that. We have had an amazing marriage so far. I absolutely adore everything about him and amazingly enough, he seems to adore me too. This does not mean that we haven't had our challenges, differing points of view, times when it was better to be silent, moments of not understanding each other, and so on. But, we have learned how to discuss things, how to take care of each other, protect each other, and we are more in love 8 1/2 years into our marriage than we were on the day we got married. While he was gone and I thought about the void that I felt and how I felt not totally myself, I began to wonder if I had stopped living the 1 x 1 = 1 equation and started living the 1/2 + 1/2 = 1 equation. In the end I have now decided that I am not participating in the latter, but am still involved in the former equation. But the truth is, for those few days part of the equation just wasn't there. The end result of a 1 x 1 = 1 marriage is a better 1 than just a 1 (does that make any sense?).

I have no idea why I have been so amazingly blessed in marriage when there are many beautiful, wonderful, amazing women who have had devastating and heartbreaking marriages; but I will continue to be grateful every - single - day for what I've got.

What's your perfect equation for marriage?


Amanda said...

I love the 1 x 1 = 1. What a great way to put it! I could go on and on about how amazing my husband is. I know that I was definitely blessed--for whatever reason--to find him. (And, that he found me, too!)

Traci said...

Love it. Thanks for sharing