I am in a new marriage. It is so new that I stepped out of my honeymoon into the lockdown. When we decided to leave for Malaysia everybody told us not to do it but there was no stopping us. We had waited too long for this escape. When we returned, we stepped into a marriage that would age several years in almost an instant because of the sheer amount of time we spent with each other.
We discovered things about each other that should have taken us years to know, in a few weeks. For instance, I realized that he is more of a loner than I had anticipated. I never believed that my partner would fulfill the roles that others play in my life, but the belief that I might be alone for long periods of time in this marriage was a hard thing to accept. Alone, not because he left, but because he is better at isolating than anyone I know.
I learned something about myself too. I realized I have a beta personality and I let him take charge more often than not. It comes naturally to him and to me as well. But I am not necessarily submissive and I don’t think we are any less equal for having this status quo.
This isolating business has been hard on everybody. Many of us may have gone down rabbit holes just like Alice. For some of us, it’s gotten so bad that we picked on our flaws like the skin peeling on our fingers. Some of us pulled on it long and hard after the skin was raw and blood oozed out. Some stopped short of doing this over and over again.
Some people are great at keeping this state of mind inside the confines of their body, while others can’t help but project it outside. He was the former, but not me. The contradiction between us brought us together in most likelihood. But, I couldn’t be sure. So I looked towards the experts for answers to my profound questions — Buzzfeed’s pop psychology quizzes.
Pop psychology has many things to say, but how would it help me decode what my husband’s actions mean? What does it say about his personality when he mixes his dal and sabzi into one giant pile with the rice to eat? What does it say about him when he sits for hours playing League of Legends? Or, that he prefers a whiskey sour to any other drink?
Would those quizzes reveal that even with his huge structure, he’s just a soft puddle when he sees cute animals? Would it reveal that he squeals when he sees said animals? Or, that he does show his hurt when I say something that hurts? Or, that he is capable of deep anger?
We have fought over what may seem like inane issues such as who will do the dishes or who will clean the house. And, none of those arguments are simple and neither should they be dismissed.
Women grow up seeing their mothers, aunts, and grandmothers pulling more than their fair share of the weight on the home front. It doesn’t matter if they too came back home after a hard day’s work outside the home. The expectations are that they come back and do more. But, I was privileged enough that I was never asked to pitch in much in terms of domestic chores.
I didn’t learn to cook or clean or even fold my clothes well. So, suddenly when I was in a marriage where I was expected to do these things, I was completely overwhelmed. I used my feminism as a weapon to say that I refuse to do even my bit. And, that was not a good color on this union.
We fought for days, intermittently, until we created a system that needed the use of an excel sheet. Tasks were assigned points and they were distributed so nobody had to do more than the other. It worked for a while. We got along better, but then our domestic worker returned.
Now, we have gone back to being potatoes again but we learned to hold each other accountable while we were fighting, and that has stuck.
It may have taken us years to know these pragmatic bits about marriage, but instead, we learned them sooner rather than later. I also learned that I picked well, even though it is frustrating to live with a man, sometimes. Perhaps, I will unpack problems that would have shown up years later in the remaining two months of working from home and iron out everything that can possibly go wrong. Maybe, we will learn to catch lemons before they get thrown at us.