Tuesday, April 17, 2007
the Case for Happiness

Nietzsche wrote, "It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages."

Of course, taking advice from a man who never married but was turned down twice and ended up being cared for in his final days of complete insanity by his mother and sister is another story. But somehow, Nietzsche knew what he was talking about.

Michael and I have a crazy kinda love. The kind of love where bringing home beer and a black and white cookie is enough. The kind of love where paying the property taxes without freaking me out is enough. The kind of love where sitting on the back porch watching the cool brass sprinkler that I bought at Lowe's for 14 bucks swirling all pretty-like is enough.

This weekend I had the opportunity to share what makes my marriage special with someone else who was trying to figure out how to make his work. My incredibly talented tattoo artist is going through an interesting time with his wife of many years. I won't get into the details but they are best of friends and they definitely want to remain that way.

I want my husband to be happy. That's not just lip-service. If riding a motorcycle and watching Star Trek or starting a business is going to make him happy. I want it for him.

Likewise, if a full body tattoo or a New Year's Day party or a garden full of fruit trees is going to make me happy, he wants it for me.

I've got to admit that, early in our marriage, I told Michael he couldn't ride a motorcycle (he doesn't remember this, thankfully). I'm so, so, so happy I figured things out.

See, not only did I find out that "riding bitch" makes me happy (something I never would have discovered). I also found out that doing the thing that makes him happy (and it does!) makes my life so much more fulfilled.

It's a cyclical thing, even though it's not intentional, he does things that make him happy, he's happy. I do things that make me happy, I'm happy. We are happy. On the other hand, I say, I don't want this thing that makes you happy, someone feels resentful, guilty, spiteful, and so on.

I know lots of people who say things like "over my dead body" or "not if I have anything to say about it." That's not what marriage is about. I'm also not saying that it's this big hedonistic do-anything-you-want-any-time-you-want thing either. With a friendship though, you figure out what works. You compromise. You want to see the other person fulfill his or her greatest ambitions. That in itself is enough.

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10 Comments:

Blogger Orangeblossoms said...

This, I hope, is what I have, too.

I suppose, as time unfolds, more will be revealed.

(hey, are you gonna write back?)

Blogger Ellen Bloom said...

You are wise way beyond your young years, My Dear!

---married forever and still figuring it out

Blogger Dazed on 24th said...

Many years ago my husband deeply desired an old Triumph Bonneville motorcycle. I cried for hours. Didn't tell him not to - just cried and cried, imagining him dead on some lonesome highway. He bought the damn thing anyway.

It turned out that we had such fun with that old thing, riding up and down the mountains.

He's dead now - he did die on a lonesome highway, but not with the motorcycle. He died in a SUV rollover outside of Gallup. Six years later I still have the motorcycle, and I smile in happy memories of our biking days. Sure glad he had that damn bike before he died!

You just don't know - really, do you?

Blogger Uccellina said...

It can't really be a happy marriage if one or both members are unhappy, can it? You're so smart :-) Husband and I both support each other's goals and dreams - it's a big part of what makes our marriage good.

Blogger Susan said...

Beautiful. It really does make all the difference. I remember my sister-in-law finding out my husband still collected (and sometimes played) Dungeons and Dragons stuff. She said, "You let him do that?" I didn't know then how to explain it, but I said, "Of course! He enjoys it!" I never understood denying him something that made him happy.

Of course, if he were to read this, he'd ask, "Does that mean I get to get a girlfriend?"

Blogger Justin FeelGood said...

Great photo! Is that a shadow of you guys on the bike reflected on THE DREADED WALL OFF DEATH? You're so brave!

Blogger Learning said...

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Blogger Good said...

I think good marriages involve people of all ages who are willing to be grown ups in how they respect, honor and love one another.

Anytime I hear someone say, "I just cannot do that or compromise" for their spouse, I get sad because I think they deny themselves the experience of finding out more about themselves and how interesting and diverse they can be, how expansive they can become.

This of course, is not an option for people being asked to tolerate abuse, disrespect, etc...

As someone who is in an amazingly happy marriage, I love to hear about yours. I truly respect you both.

Blogger Faith said...

Dear Dazed

Thank you so much for sharing this. I hope you're riding the Bonneville. You really don't ever know.

love to you.

Blogger Faith said...

And Justin - yes. That is specifically the wall of death on the 170 heading southbound.

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