Dating, Relationships, & Sex, Featured, Theory & Essay

Marriage Is Awesome And Amazing And All That Great Shit. It’s Also Hard As Fuck.

Last week, The Wife Person and I had a “we’re not arguing, but we’re not completely good” four day stretch that began while binge watching Game of Thrones and ended in the parking lot of a Market District Giant Eagle. We celebrated the end of our mini cold war with gelato shakes and pizza, and listened to Radiohead’s “Talk Show Host” on the ride home.

We ended the night with more Game of Thrones (we started watching it a month ago and are now midway through season four), and both ended up in bed by midnight.

I have been married for 10 months now. And that 10 months has done nothing but reinforce an idea repeated by parents, great aunts, neighbors, co-workers, sales clerks, novelists, stand-up comedians, Michelle Obama, and anyone else who cares to share their opinions about marriage. Marriage is a collection of shared mundanities occasionally interrupted by new shit happening. And, if you’re married long enough, the new shit becomes a mundanity too.

If you’re already “eh” about the thought of spending the rest of your life with someone — or if you’re “eh” about the thought of the people currently in your potential “rest of your life” partner pool — this makes marriage sound like Hell.

This is where someone like me — a person who’s presumably found someone they love so much that they enjoy sitting and doing nothing with them more than they enjoy doing pretty much anything else —  is supposed to say something like “But, if you’re already excited about the concept of marriage, this makes marriage sound like Heaven.” And it does, in theory. But it’s not Heaven. It’s not Hell, either. It’s much closer to Heaven than Hell, but it’s not Heaven. What is it, then?

Hard, that’s what it is. Fucking hard. The hardest fucking thing I’ve ever done. Every hard thing I’ve done — and this includes both running a mile in 5:30 and reciting an entire Big Sean verse without sneezing — is exponentially less hard than marriage. And I have a great marriage! And I was someone who wanted to be married, and I am someone who wants to continue to be married to the person I’m married to. And it’s still hard as fuck.

Placing both of your expectations of how a marriage is supposed work in a tidy brown paper bag, shaking that bag up, lighting that bag on fire, and then trying to decipher the ashes is hard as fuck. Having each part of your being — every insecurity, every fear, every unattractive habit, every fucking receipt — exposed, a bit peeled each day like skin off a callous (and being exposed to each part of your partner’s) is hard as fuck. Living together is hard as fuck. Determining who’s going to spend what money, and how the money will be spent, and how the money will be saved, and how you’ll deal with whichever other psychological issues arise when having these money determinations is hard as fuck. Families are hard as fuck. Friends are hard as fuck. Sleeping is hard as fuck. Shit, even shitting is hard as fuck.

Oh, and that collection of shared mundanities that sound shitty for someone “eh” about marriage but considerably less shitty for someone “yay” about marriage like me? Still great to experience with someone you love…and hard as fuck. Because the finality of marriage, of knowing this is the person you plan to spend the rest of your life with, means you’re planning to share these mundanities with this same person for the rest of your time on Earth. Like, till death do you part isn’t a suggestion. It’s the plan. And both the process of wrapping your mind around that concept and embracing it is hard as fuck.

Interestingly enough, an optimal marriage is preceded by a happy pre-marriage relationship. And how is the happiness of a pre-marriage relationship often determined? By your level of compatibility. And how is your level of compatibility often determined? By how easily you get along. Ultimately, what makes marriage hard as fuck is your attempt to continue that ease. Marriage isn’t hard in spite of your great relationship. It’s hard because of it. If it wasn’t great, you wouldn’t have invested in it. And if you didn’t care enough to invest so much into it, you wouldn’t really care about it. And if you didn’t really care about it, it wouldn’t be hard as fuck.

Tonight should be easy though. I’m going to pick my wife up from work at 5:30. After we come back home, we’ll sit and talk for a while. Maybe eat some fruit or something. At 6:45, I’m going to leave to play basketball. I’ll be there until 9. Maybe 9:30. I’ll shower, and after the shower, we’ll sit on one of our couches while on our respective laptops and watch TV. We’ll talk and joke and maybe eat too. And then she’ll go to bed, but I’ll stay downstairs to maybe write something or watch a playoff game. And then I’ll go to bed.

We’re going to enjoy ourselves and each other. I know this because when this happened last Thursday…and the Thursday before that…and the Thursday before that…and the Thursday before that, we enjoyed ourselves and each other then too.

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com and EBONY Magazine. And a founding editor for 1839. And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • Epsilonicus

    I am at almost two years and definitely agree. Marriage is work. But it is work in a good way. And you will notice that you two continue to grow and change, thus part of that work is relearning and re-engaging your partner. But with the right person, its worth it.

    • Dishinthedata

      How did you know it was the right person Epsilonicus?

  • TeeChantel

    Thanks for having the courage to admit just how hard marriage is. I’m not saying that it isn’t hard, but something about living your life out with someone makes life just that much sweeter. I’ve always been optimistic about marriage, so my comment is going to be very vanilla. I love marriage. I’ve seen so many couples do it right…including my parents who have been married for 43 years. They went through some tough times, and at one time considered a divorce, but realized it was a wrong choice for them. Growing up, there were a few women in church that, after their husband had passed, continued to wear their wedding rings.. To have someone make such an impact on your life is amazing to me. Stay encouraged Champ!

    • LeeLee

      Congrats to your folks! My parents have also been married for 43 years! I think most of my comfort and security with the thought of marriage is because of them. Now, they’ve been through some stuff just like everyone else. But my father doesn’t believe in divorce. Now my mom is another story………..hehe. She stays telling me, “Girl if something ain’t right, get outta there!” But my folks are still going strong. Love the marriage posts!

      • TeeChantel

        Good for your parents! See that what’s makes marriage “less scary” to me. It always existed in my world. My mom says that same thing, kinowing she ain’t going nowhere… ..she’s also really big on that “I raised my daughers to be independent” bit… but yet she sitting up here married and hasn’t worked a day in her life.

        • *sips a gallon of tea*

          • TeeChantel

            Ummmmm…. aren’t you supposed to be in Barbados?

            • Yes I am. The condo I’m in has WiFi. I just check the net whenever I pop in from the beach or my ancestors village or *loses signal*

              • TeeChantel

                lol. There should be a law against you posting from paradise and coming back to rub it all in our faces.

                • Well it’s also been informative about my roots. All I will say is what my niece said at the National Archives… “(my great grandma) was a thot”. LOL

                • AlwaysCC

                  HotTodding at its finest…

                  • TeeChantel

                    Ha! I didn’t want to be the first to say it

        • MzzPeaches

          My grandmother reiterated the same thing “be independent so you can take care of yourself” because my grandfather was basically doing his own thing outside of their marriage and she didn’t have many other financial options when it came to divorce. Back then if your husband was making all the bread you basically had to stfu, bake it and serve it with a smile on your face.

          • Andie

            Even when your an “independent” woman life can make it so hard to have financial options. My mother stayed married to my father until she died. She had degrees and a great career. And bills. Health care costs are a bishhhhhhhhhhhh. After my mom was diagnosed with cancer…. Her financial options were basically gone when it came to divorce.

          • TeeChantel

            This is true. Being independent or a woman that can basically take care of herself has its own set of downfalls, too. It is difficult to find the middle ground.

            • MzzPeaches

              Girl tell me about it. I know I can do for self and not need a helping hand from a man (or anyone else for that matter), however I’ve NEVER voiced that or conveyed it in my actions. If anything I’ve found myself doing extra to show a man I need his help with something, cause u know egos n sh|t…

              • TeeChantel

                Egos are serious. It is tough to take a step back though. I’ve gotten to the point where I am used to doing things for myself that it is like second nature…..guess I’m stuck in my ways.

              • Sigma_Since 93

                “I know I can do for self and not need a helping hand from a man (or
                anyone else for that matter), however I’ve NEVER voiced that or conveyed
                it in my actions.”

                Are you sure???? I find most women get tight when they are told no they can’t do something….ESPECIALLY when it’s monetary.

                • MzzPeaches

                  I’m positive. When I meet a man (blue/white collar/ artist, whatever) I don’t go spitting my schools, degrees, credentials, affiliations, etc. I keep it real simple, listen to him to see where his head is at, and ask questions to try and determine what type of person I’m dealing with. If they start digging and ask me specific questions then I’ll tell them more about that other stuff.

                  And can you expound a bit more on the ” I find most women get tight when they are told no they can’t do something…” Why would he be telling me what I can & can not do? Has he adopted me as his daughter? Have I signed up to be his sugar baby?

                  • Sigma_Since 93

                    Example:

                    Let’s go on vacation / girls trip / shopping spree

                    It’s not a good move right now. We’re trying to save for

                    We shouldn’t spend on that since we need to knock out debt.
                    Don’t get that credit card just to save 15% on It’s a trap.

                    Your sentence “Why would he be telling me what I can & can not do?” is a prime example of why I questioned you. If we’re supposed to have and be working towards the we goals be prepared to be checked if the me goals take away from the we goals. I find women get tight because men have used money as a control lever and money use has a tendency to be a trigger. Now some me will get tight I’ll admit but the underlying reasons are typically different.

                    • MzzPeaches

                      Ok, I get what you’re saying now.

                      But me getting tight at hypothetical hubby saying “Bae we can’t afford a trip/ you buying a new bag or getting a new card” would not make me snap on some “I don’t need you, I can do it on my OWN!”

                      I’ve quietly swallowed my disappointment before and put a smile on my face when a boo said “bae I’m sorry but we can’t do dinner out, it’s tight right now” or “no, I can’t afford to take u to see Anthony Hamilton for Vday cause bread is low” so as to not make him feel like any less than a man because he couldn’t cover the things I wanted to do.

                      “Your sentence “Why would he be telling me what I can & can not do?” is a prime example of why I questioned you. If we’re supposed to have and be working towards the we goals be prepared to be checked if the me goals take away from the we goals.”

                      That’s not telling me what to do, like you said it’s a system of checks (and balances). It should also go both ways, because buying a $400 game system or floor seats to a playoff game won’t vibe well either if we can’t afford it.

                    • Sigma_Since 93

                      Agreed. It goes both ways. When it comes to the money, women saying no is often viewed as being the voice of reason. Men saying no is often viewed as being controlling.

                    • Epsilonicus

                      Amen

                    • Charlisia Nwachukwu

                      This is my fear … I do not want anyone in my money. I don’t even want to talk about it… This is my line…. I am currently working on this one.

                    • Cleojonz

                      DH and I never consolidated accounts for this reason. We just decided who pays for what and the rest is whatever. We hardly ever fight about money.

                    • AlwaysCC

                      we do something similar. every marriage is different…what works for some doesn’t work for others. i tell people all the time – the most important thing is to figure out what works best for YOUR marriage and go from there.

                    • Sigma_Since 93

                      Yup. We have a joint account and separate accounts for our own “mad money” All the bills get paid out of the joint account and we pay for our own creature features. If the bills go up, we split the cost and contribute to the joint account.

                    • Cleojonz

                      You are right. I can tell you what works in my case but ultimately you have to know your partner and what works for the two of you. Like I’m sure it would kill most women to not know what their husband spends on, but mine is really simple I can see exactly what he’s up to so I do don’t have any great desire to keep tabs like that.

        • Cleojonz

          I agree with you, marriage has always been less scary for me because long marriages are all around me. All my father’s sibling and he is one of 7 had long marriages. His older brother has been married for 56 years and my parents will reach 46 years this summer. Even my brother married his high school sweetheart and will reach 25 years this September.

          Not to say that there have not been rough times but all these couple have obviously cared enough of each other to realize than can work any issue out.

  • “Marriage isn’t hard in spite of your great relationship. It’s hard because of it.”

    I’m a year and a half in and this is one of the best ways of putting it that I’ve read, Champ. It’s like you and your wife decided to invest in something dope and then you find that you have to work your a** off to keep it as dope. You learn when to shine it up and do the needed upkeep and when to keep your mouth shut and let things work themselves out organically. Learning that balance has helped me a lot.

    …and come home every night too…that helps a lot.

  • Tish Harris

    This describes marriage perfectly. That’s why it’s so important to marry someone you truly love. Marriage is too difficult of a situation to settle for just anybody. Been there, done that.

    • LeeLee

      “Marriage is too difficult of a situation to settle for just anybody.”

      I say this all the time, with my single self, lol. There is a lot of free and bad advice out there for people to just “settle” for someone you may not be attracted to, but get or could get along with long term. In my mind, that’s a roommate, not a spouse. If I’m only lukewarm about you now, I can’t imagine how I’ll feel 5, 10 years down the road——especially after kids, illness, family members, job changes, etc. I’d like to at least start off great and level off later on.

      • TeeChantel

        that’s the battle right there. it is hard to start off great (or work towards great) with someone, let alone get to year 5…. so many folks have jaded feelings about love.

      • Tish Harris

        Say it!
        Lukewarm doesn’t cut it.
        You need to knock me off my feet and I need to do the same for you, if we’re going to get married.
        He doesn’t have to be perfect but as the saying goes, “he needs to be perfect for me,” or quite frankly, i’m cool being single. Marriage is lovely and i’m looking forward to marrying again but only if he’s right for me. My ex-husband LOVED me but I was “so-so” on him. That’s not fair to him or me.

  • MrsT

    You are correct Sir, marriage is hard a fcuk and sometimes its even harder than that (that’s what she said–saved you some time). But it can all be worth it when your with the right person. Thanks for sharing real stories about marriage.

    • Dishinthedata

      MrsT can you offer a story of how it is worth it and how to get through a challenge?

  • so how bout Dem Thrones tho

    • bigheadbaby

      That’s what I’m waiting to hear about. That ain’t no minor undertaking and merits comment….

  • Look at you sounding like an old pro, though!
    Can’t wait for a VSB cartoon called “Married NSht” this fall.

  • That part where you mentioned how exposes you feel to your spouse is Real. There’s no way to figure out how you’re going to react in that clutch until you are that exposed. None of the boyfriend/girlfriend stuff in the world realistically prepares you for how intimate you actually are in a marriage. A good deal of divorce can be traced back to moments when the secret you gets exposed to the light, and sh*the gets really real really fast.

    The difference between those who make it and those who don’t is how they react when things gets exposed. It doesn’t guarantee things, depending on what comes out, but it definitely makes life easier.

    • NoPlaysOff

      So true! This reminds me of a quote I heard a few years ago about relationships.. “Most relationships end because of the conversations we DON’T have.” Being real is SOOOOO important, no matter how ugly something may be, the past person who should be in the dark is your partner.

      • DiamondIsMyRealName

        Agreed!! Me and my single self constantly tell people, be yourself. Dont front to get someone because you wont be able to keep that up forever. And I’m good for letting it be known up front, DO NOT ask me questions you are not prepared to hear the truthful answer to. That answer could be on either end of the spectrum (what you wanna hear vs what you dont) but you need to be prepped for it to go either way. I’d rather tell you the truth and hurt your feelings but still have you respect me than lie to you, disrespect you AND hurt ya feelings on top of have you mad at me when you find out i lied. Im a hopeless romantic tho who believes in true love and the idea of marriage. Divorce is one thing i do not believe in

        • HeyBooHey

          “I’d rather tell you the truth and hurt your feelings but still have you respect me than lie to you, disrespect you AND hurt ya feelings on top of have you mad at me when you find out i lied.”

          ALLA DIS!!! Only way I know how to be and how I plan to move forward when I get married. I tell guys upfront, I’m honest…sometimes too much so, but if you don’t wanna know it’s best you not ask or I’m giving it to you real rap raw

          • DiamondIsMyRealName

            just because I liked the way it sounded i used to say “ask me no questions, i’ll tell you no lies” but then i took a moment to digest what the sentence ACTUALLY meant, and it was clearly the opposite of what i was trying to say lmao… just like when people say… i could care less. No, you meant to say “I COULDN’T care less” but i digress lol… i still wanna get married and ish! be let me be me, imma let you be you, and we’re gonna enjoy it damnit! FOREVER!

      • That quote is everything. Marriages ending in one shot are relatively rare. Those conversations are so clutch…

    • Dishinthedata

      Todd, can you give an example of secret or something else that gets exposed that makes it “really real?” It doesn’t have to be your own, but anything would help

      • Pardon the late response, but I had to think about this.

        Here’s something that isn’t too deep, but fits with my thinking. After the financial crisis hit, the owners of the company I worked of laid a bunch of us off, save a skeleton crew to unwind operations, because they lost their shirts in the process. I had to sit down and tell my then-wife what happened and come up with a plan until I got a job. Of course there would he changes to the budget, less money for fun stuff, changes in health insurance and the like.

        After telling her all this, my then-wife not only made it clear that she wasn’t changing the way we were living, but it was somehow up to me to make it happen one way or another. Any boundaries about how I wanted to maintain our finances for the short and long term were irrelevant to her, and if I didn’t make it happen, she’d go find someone else who would.

        It’s one thing to say I don’t give a f*ck about your feelings to someone random or even your friend. But when someone you’re trying to build a life with hits you with that, it cuts to the core. You can’t just walk away. You have to try to figure it out, and if you do eventually chuck deuces, it’s going to cost you lots in blood and treasure. Marriage has consequences. Feeling them up close and personal and seeing what they’re about in the clutch will poison many a marriage.

        • Dishinthedata

          Wow Todd. I’m speechless. That hurt my heart/cut to the core just reading, so I can’t imagine what it was like to go through that. How did you get through that season? Does your ex wife regret not supporting you better (I gathered she is an ex now from your statement)? Have you moved on/remarried (I hope so)? And how did you learn to trust again? Did your wife display these selfish qualities before you married her or was it a Jedi mind trick after you said I do? Sorry for all the questions and some may be too personal to respond, but I thought I would ask. Thanks again! We learn so much by what others are willing to share/teach. Be blessed!

          • The short term was that I got a job working for UPS that, combined with partial unemployment benefits, tided us over until I got a job. Still, things got worse. In terms of my ex having regrets, she’s never expressed them. Her mindset was that I married her, therefore I had to take care of her. Moved on? Yes. Trust women? Not really. Jedi Mind trick? Definitely. LOL

            • Dishinthedata

              Thanks for responding Todd. I pray that you come to trust women again, and I hope that your ex wife has come to see the error of her ways.

  • NoPlaysOff

    “Like, till death do you part isn’t a suggestion. It’s the plan. And both the process of wrapping your mind around that concept and embracing it is hard as fuck.”

    If more people will just be honest about this part, actually recognizing that THIS is hard as fuck, we could be better off. My wife and I will be making 2 years this month! Year 1 vs year 2 is night and day…. That first year was hard as fuck! But it’s like once year 2 hit, somebody flipped a switch and we were GOOD! When our friends come to one of us about potential marriage partners, she could be in the kitchen and I could be in the yard, we will come together like Batman and Robin and hit them with the “really? You sure?” and proceed to give them the real!

  • Agatha Guilluame

    I’m here.

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