If I had been asked ten years ago what I thought about marriage, the answer would have probably been a bit pessimistic. Actually I never thought that I would be one of those people who get married, even less so one of those who marry young, but life throws curveballs, and the things that happen to us sometimes can be surprising.
Almost twenty years ago, at my friend's house, I played this sort of role playing game which we called "The Town". In "The Town" every one of us had a specific role, a family, a job and a group of friends. I was the single mom whose daughter's Kindergarten teacher always needed to call because she would forget to pick her up. I was an actress, or a businesswoman, or I had a beauty salon or an exclusive fashion store with my own designs. I was the self-sufficient woman who didn't need anything or anyone, and who cared more about herself than her daughter. It is ironic that I still believe, in some strange way, that I am that person, that person who is dettached from her emotions, who doesn't need more than her own company, who does not know loneliness and who does not know love (although it is very evident that I do need people's affection).
The difference between adulthood and childish games is that adults don't choose who they are, what life they have, whether they're going to fall in love or with whom. That is how I ended up not being the actress or fashion designer who is single and independent, with an apartment in downtown Buenos Aires and a mini cooper, or the cold lawyer or businesswoman who does not need friends because she has employees.
I was so convinced that I would never be able to have a long lasting romantic relationship that even today I feel the need to explain, or justify why Mike deals with me, or why I got married at such young age, or why my marriage isn't like any other, or even why my marriage hasn't failed yet.
My marriage isn't like any other mainly because it is a happy marriage even after five years. Because Mike and I are friends more than anything, because we both know that without speaking, without telling each other everything that goes on, our relationship couldn't survive.
Five years ago we married at the County Clerk's office, without guests and almost without photos (I'd actually prefer to say without photos so I wouldn't have to show them), without rings, a white dress, a bouquet or a veil, without something borrowed or something blue, and, above all, we married without really wanting to. Well, I can't speak for him, I don't know how much he wanted to marry, but I married not wanting to. I do not need a paper to accredit my relationship, I don't need society to validate our love, I don't need to promise anyone that I will love him until death do us part (a promise which, by the way, I don't even know if I will be able to keep), or that I am going to take care of him if gets sick, those things are mine and Mike's, they don't belong to a judge or a priest or a person who judges me without knowing me.
But not believing in marriage does not make my marriage a failure, it does not make my relationship fake, nor the love between us nonexistent, and, above all, it does not make me an unhappy or frustrated woman because I couldn't (or didn't want to) be that cold and self-sufficient businesswoman. Not believing in marriage, or in fairy tale love, only makes me work day by day for my happiness, and for the success of my relationship, it makes me see that love isn't something that, once you find it, lasts forever under the magic of having made a sacred promise, but as the result of mutual effort, of a constant struggle to outdo ourselves to always give the best of us, of giving and taking in a shared life, and of knowing that not everything is like one wants, dreams, or imagines it will be, and that it is easier to change that with which you dream than changing the world so it'll adapt to those dreams.
My relationship isn't successful because it's a legal marriage, or because I found my knight in shining armor who gives me everything I've always wanted. My relationship is successful because my partner and I want it to be, and because we both know that for that to happen we have to constantly work and go through moments that can be more or less painful, more or less gratifying, more or less tedious, and more or less memorable. But after all, that is what marriage is all about. Not like maybe I thought ten or fifteen years ago, about swearing eternal love and dealing with the consecuences, but about sharing life, about sharing all those things that life has that make us go "holy shit!"
In the end, the only thing I can certainly say after five years of marriage is that I don't know what opinion I will have of marriage five, ten or fifteen years from now, when today is as far back in my memory as the days I played "The Town" or like that cold Saturday in December when Mike asked me to interrupt the unpleasant cleaning of the oven with ammonia to kneel down in front of me and invite me to (legally) join him in the daily struggle to make life more pleasant and worth living, to which I laughed and responded "you were supposed to propose before I made an appointment at the city hall"... Well, after all it is possible that the independent, cold and rational woman is still living in me somewhere.