I am a hotwife, and I'm poly, and a lot of other things that most people don't picture in a marriage. You, my readers, mostly see that side of me because it's what I write about here. There are a few entries about Mark, but you don't ever really hear about the days where he does an unpleasant chore for me so I won't have to, or when we watch movies cuddled up on the couch, or when he brings me flowers for no reason at all except that he loves me.
I asked on three different boards what people thought that the components of a good marriage were, and got a lot of interesting answers. On a fairly conservative message board for newlyweds, I heard love and respect, religion, honesty, fidelity. I also posted on a board for people who are having affairs. Many of them have been married for twenty or more years and some have had affairs for nearly that long, so I wanted to hear their perspective as well. I heard compatibility, independence, sex, and fun. I got answers that resonated best with me on the hotwifing board, which I think makes a lot of sense. Commitment to partner's happiness, to shared goals and values, communication, trust, acceptance of faults.
Tonight I was reading a book that included parts about the thoughts of a man in his nineties as he lay on his deathbed, thinking about his relationship with his wife that spanned over seventy five years. I have to be honest that it made me cry. The way he thought about her wasn't romance and flowers, it was just about being together, the way a right hand fits with the left. It really resonated with me.
So, what does marriage mean to me? Physical attractiveness comes and goes, money isn't always there, and people can change over the years. The person you married isn't going to stay static, and hopefully no one would want their partner to stagnate. Life is a journey, and to me marriage is about being with the person whose hand you want to hold while you find your way. It's not just about chemistry, or fabulous sex, or a great job, or whatever factors initially attract you to someone. It's about what's there keeping you together during the hard times, and about a shared commitment to a life together.
Who will look at you when you wake up with bedhead and morning breath and still think you're beautiful even while they tease you about it? Who will take care of you when you're sick, raise a family with you, and support you in growing as a person? Who wants you to succeed because your happiness is important to them? We dress ourselves up for lovers to look our best, but wear baggy yoga pants and skip the makeup at home because we don't have to (although it's definitely a good idea sometimes!). Our partners have seen us at our very worst, and still want to be with us.
To me, that's what really matters. I identify as poly, so I do have other relationships that are important to me, but I know going in that they all have a shelf life, hard as that is to think about. NRE is amazing; I love the feelings when sparks fly, the headiness of kissing a new person, the intense passion that just isn't sustainable long term. And every time I date someone new, I feel those good feelings inside again for Mark. For accepting me the way I am, and for giving me what I need to be happy, even if that means it comes from someone else.
We've certainly had our share of issues over the past thirteen years together. I'm not perfect and neither is he, but I'll challenge any married person out there to deny that they've had moments they wish they could take back or words they could unsay. But what we have together means so much to me- we're a great team, good co-parents, and we've got each other's back (not to mention the great sex we still have together!). Because underneath it all, even if being married isn't glamorous (how much fun can it possibly be to pick up your partner's dirty socks or argue over whose turn it is to put out the trash, or going over finances or kid problems), it's what is real to me. And at the end of the day, there's no one's hand I'd rather be holding than Mark's. When we got married, I had his wedding ring engraved to say "Forever and always, partners in life" and it still means as much to me, if not more, than it did the day I slipped it on his finger.