This was a question on Quora.
Do you think your marriage will last forever?
Of course not; one of us is going to die first.
All right, you may really be asking, “do you think your marriage will last until one of you dies?”
I hope so. I don’t really think anything one way or the other about it. I hope, and I’ve organized my life around that hope, and this partnership we’ve built, and are building, bit by bit.
Without that hope, I wouldn’t have married him.
When I knew I could trust him enough to allow myself that kind of hope, I knew I could marry him; not just that – I knew that I wanted to, as soon as humanly possible. I wanted to stand up in front of a group of our friends and say, out loud and in public, “I choose you. I love you, but almost more importantly I trust you enough to hope that this is going to outlast petty arguments, stinky morning breath, whichever of us didn’t load the dishwasher. I trust you enough to invest in you my hope, the kind that makes me want to be there when you fall ill and I’ve got to watch you slip away in front of me, and I’ve been down that road before, so allowing myself that kind of hope is a pretty big deal. I have hope that gives me a kind of certainty that I won’t run from it; I trust you enough to know, as much as I can know anything, that you’d be there if it was me who was sick, instead of you. I say I hope, I say I’m invested in that hope, because when that Big Thing comes, as it surely will, I’ll be there because loving you means so much more than losing you.”
That’s what my marriage is: it says, I trust you enough to choose you, and invest in you my hope for the future. Maybe that future is two ninety year old dudes in rocking chairs, complaining about the kids these days, with their polymorphous sexualities, and their polyamory networks, how they’ve grabbed marriage and defined it to suit themselves, and not us, and how – underneath it all – no matter how confusing it is to crotchety old gay dudes, who’ve been married for forty-odd years, that’s all right.
But maybe that future is one of us getting hit by a bus next week.
The hope I’m talking about isn’t about certainty or guarantees, because there aren’t any, but maybe it’s acting as if they exist anyway. Not in the sense of fooling yourself – one of us really could get hit by a bus. Maybe he’ll get cancer, and I’ll have to live through that again…but I’ll choose to, because like I said, I love him so much that losing him pales in comparison to just how much I love him, and just how much I want to see him, to be with him, that it’ll be worth it to stick it out, even if that means an ICU, and watching him disappear slowly in front of me, bit by bit.
Love breeds this strange kind of hope that makes you certain, to your bones, to your marrow, that you’re in each other’s lives, for the rest of your lives, no matter what happens.
When I knew I had that hope, I knew I was marrying this man.
So, our marriage will last however long it lasts, but certainly not forever, because nothing ever is. But it’ll last, because it’s more important than seemingly irreconcilable differences, because we love each other enough to move past those, for the sake of our marriage, for the sake of that commitment we made to each other, standing up in public.
Maybe that’ll mean we get to 90 year old gay dudes sitting in rocking chairs. I sure as hell hope so.
But maybe it won’t, and that’s okay, because I love him so much that it overrides pretty much everything else.