Marriage goes one of two ways: Kathleen Hanna and Ad Rock or Sid and Nancy. They either work as well as a rock ’n’ roll match made in heaven, or end in murder/suicide. Some vanilla couples exist in the grey area, but who wants to be them?
The marriage version of you is the version that has ugly cried, snort-laughed, and had every range of bodily functions and bathroom incidents, maybe even a fucked up childbirth story. You’ve “adopted” pets, or just brought home a dog one day. You’ve had drunken bar fights about which band is worse: Lynyrd Skynyrd or The Eagles (The Eagles are great, Lynyrd Skynyrd is trash, duh). Maybe one of you has even gotten sober.
The day I met my now-husband, I was afternoon bar hopping with a friend in Manhattan. Then we went to Brooklyn and put our names in at a hip ramen shop with a three-hour wait. We bided our time at the cocktail bar across the street. I resent cocktails, because I think they are too strong to sip, overly fetishized and over priced. I’m a boxed wine or a shot and a beer girl at heart. But there I was, chugging Manhattans like any bored New Yorker.
Eventually my future hubby walked in, and I’d had just enough booze to drop a hint that I smoked weed to see if he would bite. He did and we spent the rest of the evening staring into each other’s eyes, falling in love and getting wasted. I eventually pulled him into the bathroom with me to make out. We walked out to a standing ovation from the entire bar. I exited like Cinderella at midnight, suddenly running outside to catch my Uber, accidentally leaving the last digit off when I put my number in his phone. He figured it out and I woke up to his text. We’ve been together ever since.
High on love after meeting him, I quit my corporate job, started freelancing for a life-altering pay cut, broke my lease, and chopped off, then dyed my hair. And he was along for the ride. He’s my “ride-or-die.” What’s more punk rock than that?
His attraction to my insanity doesn’t exactly speak to his overall wellness, but we were definitely on to something. Within seven months of meeting we were engaged, a month later married in city hall, and the next day we moved to a new city.
Fast forward five years from when we met, we own a house, have a two-year-old and I have almost a year sober under my belt. How did I go from a weed-smoking, cocktail-guzzling partner in crime to a sober mom? I couldn’t have done it without my husband (not just getting pregnant, getting sober too).
As I previously wrote in “Sobriety is Punk as Hell”, my alcohol consumption usually didn’t look “alcoholic.” I surrounded myself with people who liked to imbibe, so my partying appeared social. I didn’t acknowledge powerlessness until the day I quit, and had never previously admitted – to myself or anyone else – to having a problem. So it came as a genuine surprise to my husband when I woke up one morning and said, “I think I’m going to go to an AA meeting.” After about a week of going to meetings every day I sat him down and said, “I may not be an alcoholic, but I sure do relate to the people in those meetings.” I eased both of us into the idea that this identity fit.
Over the next few months, we had plenty of conversations about our insecurities. I was afraid he fell in love with the partying, godless version of me, and would become bored with this new person who left every night to go to meetings and came home talking about finding a “Higher Power.” He feared I’d outgrow him, and become annoyed by his non-sobriety. But the truth beneath it all was that we really love each other. More importantly, we like each other. My drinking could look like two glasses of wine with dinner, or it could look like blacking out at a baby shower. No one really misses that. And I genuinely don’t resent my husband for having a drink or two when he gets home from work. At least not most days.
Marriage is punk because it can be whatever you want it to be. It can fit your life and your relationship and your rules. It doesn’t have to be “normal.” You can be as normcore or subversive as you want. Walk your husband on a leash. Be in a thrupple. Swing. Do “abnormal” things that aren’t sexual like living in separate homes or traveling alone.
Part of the rollercoaster is thinking or feeling marriage is forever, but not really knowing. My parents, in a very dysfunctional, arguably punk relationship veering more towards Sid and Nancy than Beyonce and Jay Z, separated in a “War of the Roses”-style divorce. It left me predictably turned off by the idea of holy matrimony. Then I met my now-husband and I thought, “Huh, I think I could ride out forever with this guy.” I know it’s not for everyone, but it felt right for us. Choosing to marry someone is extreme. Once you say “I do,” the alternatives to together forever are “death do you part” or a legal conscious uncoupling that will likely bankrupt you both, financially and emotionally.
Fighting in your marriage is different than fighting while dating. Married fighting is more intense because even if you’re both evolved, woke, emotionally sober therapized millennials, there’s always an unspoken, “What are you going to do about it?” It’s a rhetorical question, and if you’re not the type of couple who always threatens divorce, the answer is,”absolutely fucking nothing.”
As a parent, I can say that kids behave better around strangers than they do at home. When they’re with their primary caregivers, kids push boundaries; they can be their truest selves. Marriage is exactly like that. You can be the basest version of you. There’s room for error. If you aren’t a terrible person, they aren’t going anywhere. And they might not go anywhere even if you are.
What I’m discussing isn’t bride and groom, Barbie and Ken marriage. Plenty of people are in long term relationships that look like marriage. They share everything, their lives are intertwined. Gay partners were spiritually married before they legally had the right. This is the level of commitment to which I relate.
It may feel challenging, but the effort you put into your dating relationship is nothing like the work that goes into marriage. Not being an asshole to the person you live with 24/7 is hard. The majority of a life together consists of the mundane ins and outs of life, like groceries, bills and housework. Not becoming sexless best friends is not easy. Staying fun and spontaneous requires effort, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it. Being of service to your life partner is rewarding. And getting spanked by your forever daddy is a real pleasure.
At 28, choosing to spend the rest of your life with one person is pretty aggressive. Some would say it’s moving fast. Like any millennial, we posted it all loudly on social media. Aggressive, fast and loud? Sounds like punk rock to me.
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