I looked over at his lunch, instantly offended. I recognized those noodles, they were the noodles I’d stared into, contemplated eating just a few nights before. They were my leftover noodles, my future lunch noodles, the ones I’d planned to eat the very next day.
But there they were, in his bowl, halfway up to his mouth, and then swallowed and out of my life forever.
“Um babe…” I ventured, trying to sound sweet when my insides were all fury, “Are those my Thai leftovers?” The emphasis was so clearly on the word “my,” I might as well have used a skywriter to get my point across.
He paused for a moment, before looking up at me slowly. “Is that really how you want to do things, Steph? Divide our lives between my things and your things?”
I haven’t talked much about marriage, because frankly, I don’t know much about it. With a mere 9 months under our belts, we’re marital babies. We’re infants, not knowing a darn thing about the world, or how to get around in it.
So instead of sharing “how to’s” or any tricks at all, I want to share something with you that I’ve found to be odd about meshing your life with a boy.
It has to do with that word, “my.”
You see, I’m discovering that there’s no “my” in marriage. And I think that’s one of those things we single gals don’t think about much before we get to the end of the aisle.
Sure, I thought about the romantic part of the “ours.” The fact that this life was now ours seemed like a great excuse to hang out with my favorite human all the time. And in most cases it is.
But there’s also a more unexpected definition to the “ours.” It’s a definition I hadn’t thought about before.
I hadn’t thought about it before because I hadn’t realized how often I thought about the word “my.” That’s my shelf, my bed, my space, my bathroom. Sure, I can share. Anyone who passed pre-school knows how to do that. But I was still keeping a running tally of what belonged to me.
It’s like when you’d combine your DVD collection with that of your roommate. Sure, you can both watch whatever you want. But your name is still Sharpie-d on the back of the case. You don’t want to deal with any shady “mixups” when it’s time to move out.
But that’s what I’m discovering is different about marriage. Your DVD collections—should you still have one—become entirely meshed together.
Mine is yours, yours is mine, they’re all ours. No Sharpie anywhere.
The worst part is that I have to keep re-learning this lesson. I’m such a natural score-keeper, it turns out. I am a bit of a cheater though, because I tend to have a selective memory weighed heavily in my favor. But either way, the Thai incident was not the first I had to realize how selfish I can be.
A few years ago, Carl and I were heading to lunch at the office where we used to work. There was an internal cafeteria for the staff, and you’d buy tickets ahead of time and then use them to purchase your lunch. Carl rarely had tickets. He just never got around to buying them, and so one day as we were heading to lunch, he asked if he could have one of mine.
This was maybe the third time he’d asked and so I was annoyed. I shot him back a look and said, “Yes, but then you have to buy me more.”
He stopped in his tracks, looked down for a second, and then back at me seriously.
“Steph, do you really want to do things this way?”
He was right. As soon as the words had left my mouth, I remembered just how many meals he’d paid for that week, not to mention in the last year. Carl would usually pick up the tab, whether we were at a nice restaurant or at Chipotle, and here I was insisting that he pay me back $1.50.
The thing I learned that day, and then relearned in the Thai incident is that “my” is overrated.
It can be an easy thing to revert back to—to feeling selfish and writing your name all over your things in Sharpie. But through his generosity and the fact that he totally does not keep score, Carl has been teaching me that there’s a better way.
I’m learning that if I want to be selfish, I’m left with little more than some cold noodles and $1.50, and that when we both bring what we have to the table, 1 + 1 = far more than the sum of its parts.
Are you a newlywed? What have you been learning about marriage thus far?