Marriage is so hard.  You hear this on talk shows, on the internet, from elders—pretty much everywhereI won’t lie—I’m a married person, and I’ve said this.  And marriage is hard…sort of…but not really. Anyway, that’s for a different post. What we hear far less about are the gifts of marriage, the reasons why anyone signs up for this antiquated practice in the first place. It’s 2016, and in the United States, while being married still brings some social standing (and tax benefits), we certainly don’t have to do it anymore. So why bother?

The thing is, when a marriage is good, it’s actually pretty great.  Sure, there’s all the love and sex and living longer.  But there are also some benefits that are less commonly discussed. Below are a few.


You Have a Partner

As my father reminds me, “life is about making choices.” One of the great things about marriage is that you don’t have to make choices alone. There’s someone to talk through all sorts of decisions with, from where to live, to what to say to your demanding boss, to which wireless headphones to buy. It’s not all on you, all the time—there’s someone who helps you evaluate the options and select the best one.

On top of this, you can each make the most of your strengths.  My husband is an engineer, and he actually enjoys working on the household projects that I find aggravating and overwhelming.  I, on the other hand, am more of a negotiator, and typically do any haggling with vendors we need to work with.  We each do the tasks that we’re better at, saving the other person a considerable amount of stress and discomfort.  Frankly, this whole partner-having benefit can’t be overstated—it’s likely one of the biggest reasons that marriage has persisted throughout time and across various cultures.


You Know Them…Until You Don’t

You know the joke your spouse is going to make before it’s out of their mouth, and what they’ll order at dinner.  You know which inconvenience is going to frustrate them beyond belief, and which movie scene or news story will break their heart. You also have a sense of what kind of mistakes they’ll make, and you balance between alerting them to the pattern, and allowing them to make their own choices. You know who they are, and it often gives you joy to anticipate and fulfill their needs.

That said, we aren’t static, of course.  We are all on our way to becoming someone else, at least a little bit.  Watching your partner slowly evolve over time is both a strange and humbling part of marriage.  Strange, because, they are in some ways becoming more foreign to you, even as they are becoming more familiar.  This can be scary because it’s not predictable—you have no idea how or why or if your partner will change. But it’s also humbling, because you are witness to something remarkable; a person shifting, rubbing up against their experiences and turning into someone slightly different. You even recognize, at times, how your own influence has altered their course.


They Know You

The counterpart to you knowing them is that they know you.  It’s sometimes maddening how they can predict what you will do or say or even think.  But there’s comfort in being known.  You feel that someone sees you.  There’s a loneliness that ebbs, replaced with the sense of being a part of someone, and having them be a part of you.


They’re Your Secure Base

One of the best parts of a good marriage is the freedom it offers you to explore careers, hobbies, and interests that matter to you.  Essentially, your partner is like base camp at the foot of Everest—they help you build a stable platform from which to launch yourself up the mountain. The security you feel at home makes it easier for you to take risks; it seems okay for other aspects of your life to be scary, because there’s a sense of safety that resides within you.  Also, you know that if you do fail, your partner will be there to help you make all the tough decisions.


And Then There’s the Creepy and/or Random Stuff

Of course, you don’t live with someone for years without being privy to all sorts of things that others don’t see.  And even more, there are things you see that only you care about. For instance, I am a bit in love with watching my husband sleep.  I’m not sure why, but his sleeping form seems like a small miracle to me. I’ve watched him for years, waiting for my own rest to come.  And because of this, I know that he used to chuckle in his sleep, but at some point, he stopped.

When I asked my husband if he had a random thing he loved about me, he said that it was my persistent foot rubbing. I rub my feet together constantly, but I had no idea how frequently I did this until my husband pointed it out.  “It drives me up the wall, but it’s cute,” he said. As a spouse, there’s all this stuff that only you know, and it feels intimate and sacred.  It feels like yours.


A good marriage has both tender and practical gifts that reveal themselves over the course of a life together. And while it certainly takes effort to keep a marriage in a healthy place, the sense of security, the simple joys, the feeling of connection, and hardly ever having to be the one who plunges the toilet—are more than worth it.



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