were we married last year?

 

from our fifth anniversary. on which we went to costa rica.

we usually need two tries at this sort of thing.

 

I’ve always found it difficult to write about Scott. I’m not entirely sure why that is, but one of the only large-level requests my editor made after she’d first seen the manuscript for my book was, “You should write something about your husband.” And this was after I’d already ignored the same request made by my agent a few months prior. Turns out I’d written a whole book in which my husband appeared briefly and only randomly, like the baby on Up All Night. I grudgingly agreed.

To be fair, the book is about faith—I use stories from my life to color in or accentuate things I’m learning about God. I usually pick the stories based on the facet of faith I’m writing about, not the other way around. But now I was stuck. I tried thinking of funny ways to engage the topic, but we had a more of a traditional how-we-met story (we met at school). And nobody broke his ankle.

I just finished reading the novel The Paris Wife, which is historical fiction centered around Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley. (And Maria, if the novel you’re working on stalls for any reason, I suggest picking a historical person from out of a hat and then writing about his wife. Those books seem to sell like Taylor Swift albums.) ANYWAY, the book describes how Hemingway’s first mega-successful novel, The Sun Also Rises, was based on a trip he took with his wife and their friends to the bullfights in Spain. It’s excruciatingly autobiographical, and apparently, in early drafts he even used their real names. Everyone who was on the trip was included in the “fictionalized” account. Everyone but Hadley.  This made her feel sad and left out and yadda yadda whine whine whine.

Though it goes against every fiber of my being to stick up for Ernest Hemingway, as I’ve been mad at him ever since I first read A Farewell to Arms as a high-school junior, I think I get why some people leave their spouses out of the writing. It’s hard to get it right. It’s hard to be separated enough to be honest. It’s hard not to say something you’ll regret later.

All that to say: I had a hard time writing this post.

Scott and I tried to remember what we did on our eighth anniversary. (Which was last year.) The best we could come up with:

“I think we went out, but I can’t really remember where.”

“Was your dad here last year?”

“Did we get a babysitter?”

“I think I was pregnant.”

“Did I know you last year?”

Very romantic. It must have been epic and memorable and earth shattering.

Or it must have been another night in a series of nights, probably one where we ate together and maybe watched something on TV. We probably put Miles to bed and cleaned the kitchen and joked and fought and did other less-G-rated stuff if we weren’t too tired or sick or grumpy. It was probably a good night because we were together.

But next year, the big ONE-ZERO, we’re going to New York or Europe or maybe on a cruise. Without kids. Call me if you want to babysit.

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8 thoughts on “were we married last year?

  1. This is so interesting. I have never thought about the reasons a married person might not write about a spouse, but that makes total sense. I have totally been in that boat. However, my reasons for not broaching this subject in my writing has had more to do with the instability of my romantic life and the fact that I haven’t managed to turn anyone from boyfriend to husband. Therefore, I have no desire to give a transient the satisfaction of being immortalized via writing when we haven’t even decided if the relationship is going to be immortalized. Okay, that’s being a bit dramatic, but that is the main reason I don’t write about them. (It’s also the main reason I don’t put up profile pictures with boyfriends.)

    However, I used to have an anonymous blog where I wrote under a pseudonym and had a following of about 20 complete strangers. I wrote about the boyfriend I had during that time, and I let him read it, and even though nobody knew him or us, it hurt his feelings because I was honest and unapologetic and non-mushy in my descriptions of him (and his family…oops; big no-no).

    So – I hear ya. I might also fall a little too far on the non-mushy side of the line because I desire so much not to be mushy. Which apparently can be hurtful to them. Who knew.

      • Yes! I absolutely remember reading your post and thinking, “Huh! Me too!” It was the heroine (can you even call her that?!?) that bugged me the most. And don’t waste your time– I’ve had to read that novel three times for different courses, and it doesn’t get any better. In fact, as I become more aware of feminist issues, I think it gets worse.

    • Yeah, I don’t know which is trickier: writing about someone you’re not sure will be around for long or writing about someone you know will be around for the rest of your life. Haha!

  2. Katie, I think marriage relationships are so complex. If I talk about one incident or aspect of my beloved, it just feels like a distortion in the context of all I feel, do, think and believe about them. If I speak of something difficult, I wonder if the person(s) listening may decide he are a jerk based on that snippet. If I praise him, then will someone think (mistakenly) that my life is so charmed? There is no simple way to convey my feelings and perception of someone, when it is done in bits and pieces of such a huge “whole”. I understand why some writers choose to resist writing about such a complicated relationship. I want people to understand me, and what my life is like, but that area is a tough one to share.

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