Worry Wart…

I sort of wonder where I get my tendency to worry from. I don’t remember either of my parents really spending a lot of time worrying about things when I was growing up. Goodness knows they had plenty to worry about – bills, shitty jobs working for abusive bosses, health problems, my sister and her unstable mental condition, whether or not my inclination to set fire to and/or blow up anything I could get my hands on would end up being a real problem for me in adult life, etc. But no, I really don’t recall them worrying about much of anything. They just sort of cruised along and dealt with troubles as they surfaced.

So why am I so worried all the time? Where did I pick this up? And can someone please tell me how to stop?

Lately I’m worried about my marriage. 

Sitting there on the page, in black and white, staring back at me, that last sentence just seems very strange and foreign to me. How on earth did such a thought even occur to me? Ten years ago if you’d told me I would “worry about my marriage” I’d have stared at you with a pretty nonplussed look on my face. Marriage was not something I was ever going to do. Ten years ago I was convinced not only that I’d never be married, but also that there was no chance I was ever going to meet someone I both wanted to marry and who wanted to marry me. So maybe I should ponder that puzzle for a bit.

How did I end up a married man?

Well, for one thing, I met someone who, once I got to know her I never ever wanted to be without her. For another, she apparently had exactly the same notion. Even more interesting though is that if you’d asked her before we’d met if she ever expect to be married she’d not only have told you “no way” she’d have given you a dissertation on why the institution of marriage is an archaic, medieval mess that usually does great things for the men who partake of it and equally bad things for the women who agree to it. So, two people who really didn’t have much faith or interest in the institution of marriage met fell in love and got married. Why? Mainly it was because we were from different countries. Legally we couldn’t be together for more than a few months at a time in either country unless we were married. Since we didn’t want to be apart, we took the plunge.

On the face of it that sounds pretty utilitarian, and it is. If the laws of this country or her country allowed people to live and work wherever they want, for whatever reason, we’d probably just be a cohabitating couple, with no legal basis to our relationship. The funny thing is though that since we’ve been married I’ve really become fond of this institution I didn’t much care for in the past. My most cherished possession is my wedding band. It’s a cheap piece of white gold, but it’s become like a security blanket to me. It’s also like a badge of honor sometimes. It says “look at me, someone loves me.” Or at least that’s what it says in my mind. 

So why am I worried? I’m worried because in spite of the fact that I still adore my wife as much as the day we first met, I fear the shine has worn off of our relationship for her. She’s heard all of my stories, my rants and my jokes. My available palette of colors with which I can paint our world has run out. I know she still enjoys my company, and she still gets comfort from our comfy home life, but she’s no longer excited to see me the way I am when I see her at the end of a day of work.

In some sense I guess I’m just unhappy about the natural way that all things go. Things change. Relationships evolve. Our marriage has evolved into something that’s calmer, more staid and relaxed. Instead of an exciting and colorful piece of designer furniture it’s now a worn and comfortable old chair. But I wasn’t done with the excitement. So I’m feeling left out, unloved and unwanted.

I’m a pretty smart guy. I know on some level that the comfortable and relaxed state of this relationship is good and healthy. I also know that there are millions of couples that would kill to be able to describe their marriages the way I’ve just described ours. But my self-confidence is lacking. So I worry that my dissatisfaction is going to poison our marriage and that she’ll eventually tire of me and my complaints. I worry that the foundation upon which this marriage is built is too weak, that it will not withstand the conflict I know is coming… that I actually know is already a presence in our lives.

I wish I were more like my parents right now. That I could just say, “it’s not a problem now, and we’re doing well, we’ll just deal with what comes up as it comes up.” 

Maybe I just need a lobotomy.

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