Samantha and Gordon have been together for 21 years. They are both writers and comics, with Samantha also an animal care giver, and Gordon a musician. They bear witness to the troubles and tribulations of other twosomes with a deep sympathy born from their own experiences together. In this space, they will share what has often been hard-won wisdom, in the happy hope it will be of service.
Nowadays newlyweds come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The teen weddings of our forefathers are all but extinct in North America, replaced now with second and third marriages, or first marriages much later in life. Many couples of course are opting for no marriage at all, happy to side-step costs, anxiety and potential family theatrics. I have been to the second weddings of both my parents, attended the nuptials of my girlfriend and her gal, and my guy friend and his fella.
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Becoming a newlywed a fortnight back at the tender age of 48, I feel such relief in the assumption (hopefully grounded) that there are no ugly little surprises on my horizon. How I pity the poor bride who awakens the morning after her wedding night, and looking over at her sleeping husband, notices for the first time the spatulate thumb and curved joints, the unmistakable hand of a violent killer. And what of the poor groom of yore, staring in speechless horror as his beautiful bride released from corsets, girdle and make-up, standing before him now, with a completely different face and shape. Such trickery!
As I write, I look over at my new husband, sprawled near-nude on our couch, his bass balanced precariously across his chest, mouth gently agape as he sleeps. We have truly seen each other at our absolute worst. We’ve checked each other for haemorrhoids, popped each other’s back pimples, and held the puke bucket with one hand, a cool face cloth with the other. We have seen each other petty, self-serving, insincere, and weak.
Each of us has gone through enormous changes in our two decades together, and we are fortunate indeed that said changes have been complementary, have woven through and around our lives together. When he looks at me I see in his eyes an enormous love and compassion, a cell deep understanding of who I am, of why I am. The relief and gratitude are staggering.
Don’t mistake me for a sanctimonious little horror, smug in the sure knowledge she has achieved perfection. We fight, and when we do it is go big or go home. I see his jaw clench at some of my opinions, and feel my teeth grind at some of his. I think if we got along all the time I might just sick up down my front. Some conflict is good. It keeps us honest.
On the couch, my new husband stirs, a small spit bubble quavering delicately on his lower lip. I try not to find it charming. And fail.
Newlyweds. The word itself sends a ripple of horror up your spine. Newlyweds pin you down in conversation on the bus, awash in their bliss. Would you mind taking our picture please? We just got MARRIED! Newlyweds get discounts at drycleaner and taxidermist. Newlyweds drive away in gleaming black convertibles, dragging hubcaps, swirling in confetti, with perfect white teeth too numerous to count. Newlyweds will drive you batshit crazy with their Middle American crap. So, who wants in?!
In many ways, the new wife and I are very different people and only recently have I learned how we complement each other. I don’t know why we waited so long to get married. Sammy and I have been posed this question many times and the answer is unsatisfying to both say and hear: it just didn’t matter enough. True, we are romantics at heart and have no real problem with marriage per se. We just didn’t see the title as relevant to our experience. We were together and that was that. Marriage was city hall getting in our bed like a drunken freshman. Sign here, here aaaaand here. It’s easy to see why people are un-interested.
For me as a kid at family weddings, it was the reception that was remembered. My parents doing a roly-poly elbows back and forth swing to the Beatles “Obla Di Obla Da”, in self-conscious imitation of the young. I saw it then for the first time: they loved each other. The way they sashayed around and smiled across the gap that separated them was all my nine year old brain needed to see. My folks were in love. I wanted that too.
I would be a liar with pants ablaze if I told you she didn’t sometimes drive me round the twist. Her multi-tasking results in burnt offerings masquerading as supper. She gets ideas in her pretty little head that make me want to hold her head under the tap. Ultimately, these concerns fall away like so much dead weight because that’s what they are.
Let’s sew this shut with a line from Willy the Shake: “ Love is not love that alters when alteration finds.”
Samantha can be reached at email@example.com
Gordon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org