Why Bother?

Hey–I just noticed those flowers on your desk. A miniature rosebush, huh? Pretty. Did you get that for Valentine’s Day? And it’s still blooming more than a month later! And look, a drugstore teddy bear. He gave it you last week, for your second and a half anniversary. Nice touch, I guess.

No, my husband and I didn’t do anything for Valentine’s Day this year. We’re not into that kind of thing. Blatantly commercialized holidays that are just an excuse to guilt couples into buying overpriced trinkets to express some sort of superficial Hallmark-type affection? Not really our bag. We deliberately don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day at all, actually. When you’ve been married for as long as I have, and you’re as in tune with each other as we are, it’s kind of unnecessary, don’t you think? In fact, sometimes we’ll make it a point to do deliberately unromantic things to each other on anniversaries and Valentine’s Day. Like, in the morning I’ll clean the baseboards in the bathroom with his toothbrush and then put it back. You know, silly stuff. We’re kind of unconventional that way.

How did you guys celebrate? Dinner and a movie, huh? That sounds like a pretty typical romantic date. Yeah, we don’t really go in for romantic “Date Nights”. Like I said, we don’t need to express our feelings for each other in a hollow, consumerist fashion. We like to just kind of celebrate our relationship by simply being married. It’s enough for us. We don’t need to constantly demonstrate our affection. That’s the sort of thing I think couples do when they’re insecure about things, you know? Well, no–I don’t mean you and your husband, necessarily.

My husband and I just know that we will always, always be together until one or both of us is dead. So, it’s like, what’s the big deal? I know–pretty deep.

Yeah, that’s right–although I’m married, and have been for over nine years, I don’t wear a wedding ring. Not even a plain band. Didn’t think it was necessary. When my husband proposed, I was just so, well, stunned that he was asking me to spend the rest of my life with him that I didn’t even think about a ring until later– and by then, I figured why bother? It’s just a symbol anyway. I mean, sure, a big flashy diamond is really important for some girls; I get that– at least, I guess I do. But it never mattered to me. It’s the marriage that’s important, right? The eternal commitment? I don’t need a huge rock to demonstrate to everyone else that I’m legally tied to another person for life. Me? I’m constantly aware of it. I don’t need a reminder. When people get old and have arthritis, they can’t even get those rings off. A lot of people get cremated with them.

I guess you could say that we’re the type of couple whose bond is so rock-solid dependable that there is very little we need to do to prove anything to anyone else, or to each other. Like the time last week that my husband scratched his cornea? Most wives probably would have driven him to the ER like he’d asked–begged, really– but I didn’t even feel the need to. I just knew he’d be insulted later if I gave in to his whining. In fact, I didn’t even turn the TV down. Barely even looked at him. We don’t have the type of relationship where one of us is compelled to jump right up and take the other to the hospital just because he’s blubbering like a little girl. We’re a bit more low-key than that. If he ends up going blind in his left eye, it’ll just be one more memory we’ve created together. You can’t build that kind of bond overnight. It has to just happen naturally.

How did he scratch his cornea? I guess technically I did it. It’s funny the way things are when you’ve been married as long as we have—you sometimes forget where your fingernails end and his leering, bloated face begins. You’re so close that it’s almost like you’re the same person, or two halves of a greater whole—where one half likes to go out drinking with its buddies five nights a week and the other half is somehow the only half that knows how to take the trash out. You’d think both halves would have figured that out by now. You’d think both halves would also know how to shower more than twice a week—but I digress. That’s love, right? Unconditional, teeth-grinding love. The forever kind of love.

It’s actually our tenth wedding anniversary next month, and you know what we’re planning to go? You guessed it—absolutely nothing. It just feels right that way. Sometimes doing nothing is the most romantic thing of all. Sometimes you’re so completely welded to each other that you don’t even want to think about the other person really ever. I know that’s the place everyone’s trying to get to; and we’re there, and it’s so great. Maybe someday you’ll be there too. But I wouldn’t count on it. It’s pretty rare and special– which is why I don’t like to brag about it a lot. You won’t see any teddy bears on my desk anytime soon, that’s for sure– and that’s the way we both like it. But of course you should enjoy those roses. Just watch out for the thorns when the flowers wither and die and you go to throw them into the trash.

Molly Schoemann writes humor and satire and wears a wedding ring. Her work can be found at mollyschoemann.com.