I am backdating this to the day that I wrote most of it. Because I can.
This month we celebrate five years of marriage. I have spent the past month or so thinking about our marriage in terms of the concept of flourishing (yeah, yeah, MacIntyre got me in the end. Whatever. This is my life, and I remember nothing directly from MacIntyre, so now he’s free to eat my mind out).
I made a mistake when I married Josh five years ago.
Sometime about a year or so ago Josh kindly explained to me that I am unusual in my eagerness** to admit mistakes. According to Josh, normal people are disinclined to admit their mistakes, and almost never do so when they have gotten away with the mistake. Apparently in Normal-People World, if one lucks out and does not suffer the just consequences of one’s mistake, then one is allowed to assert that no mistake could have possibly been made. Strange, strange stuff, this normal world!
I love to admit mistakes, because it allows for hope. If I made a mistake, then it means that there was an alternate path where I could have done better. And that means that perhaps I can make correct choices in the future that will allow for a previously unthinkable good life. If I messed up, then perhaps there is something that I can do to make up for what I did. Perhaps I cannot improve my own life, but I can at least serve as a conscious warning for others. Or something.
So I easily admit that in marrying Josh when I did I made a mistake. A beautiful mistake.
It is clear that I will not be able to coherently explain why it was a mistake, though goodness knows the hubris that goes into one thinking that one can defy the stats on young marriage and divorce in our culture. Stats and coherent explanations aside though, evidence of a mistake comes back to the concept of flourishing, or the absence thereof.
I have observed early*** marriage in general to be contrary to flourishing and that was certainly the case for Josh. By marrying the man I claimed to love too early, I reduced his potential quality of life significantly. I do not dwell on this fact for the joy of the pain. It is necessary for me to realize reality and remember the past in order to clean up the present and make space for a healthier future. If getting married five years ago was not best for Josh, does that mean anything about being married today? What do I need to do to make shared life good for him today? What can be done to build on the first too-early years to infuse value into the future?
The answers are scattered. Some things I need to do are trite, some are impossible.
On the very practical, uuuuuuuughhhhh side, I have been working on organizing the apartment. One day I happened to check Twitter and it was full of links to Organizational hacks for the rest of us. While I realize that the author is trying to be funny while posting something that builds traffic etc. etc. I had a punch-in-the-gut serious moment. The very un-funny truth is that much of that post reflects the reality of my approach to our living space and it simply is not okay. The “hey, I’ve got ADD and better things to do than maintain a physical space conducive to human flourishing” attitude results in surroundings that tell those we live with that they are not worth the effort of a clean and organized environment, even when such is within our control. At least in my life, this is pretty much the same as telling Josh that he simply is not worth enough for me to bother to change my life to improve his.
I have not yet succeeded in any of my attempts to make things better. Correcting mistakes is not that simple, even five years later. But I am aware, and regularly making feeble attempts at improvement. I do not know where redemption hides. Perhaps I will stumble over it as I celebrate the gift of five years that should not be.
**Granted, it may take quite a bit for me to realize that I have erred, but when I finally do realize it, then I tend to admit it readily.
**”Early” is, of course, a relative term, but perhaps that is part of the issue. Josh and I were married 4 & 6 years younger than the median age for first marriage in the state where we first lived together. Community wisdom is often found in averages, and we did not live in an Amish community with Amish expectations and Amish support for marriage that would have made our age rather perfect for marriage.