Tax write-offs? Until death do us part? A promise of forever and a constant support system?
Whether you’re a cynic or a romanticist, the truth is there are many benefits and sacrifices involved when it comes to marriage. So many have tried to generalize the institution and give advice on how to make it work.
I’m no expert. However, in the six years, I’ve been married, I’ve learned this: If you want to quickly divide a room, simply bring up the term “marriage.” You’ll be simultaneously bombarded with facts about why it’s the greatest social convention ever created and why it’s the worst.
Disagreements about identity, finances, divorce, biology, intimacy, and all sorts of other issues will quickly arise, and you’ll realize the one truth everyone can agree on: The success or failure of marriage truly depends on the parties involved.
In recent months, I’ve seen quite a bit of negativity about marriage. I’ve read articles about how my marriage may be ruining my identity, my perspective, my sex life, and every other aspect you can think of.
I admit that marriage is hellishly hard. There are true sacrifices made every single day in order to meld two different lives together into a functioning, cohesive vision. It’s not easy being one of two.
Still, over the years, I’ve also uncovered so many benefits. Sure, there’s the romantic notion of being with your best friend every single day. There are the quote pillows and sweet sentiments about soulmates, about lovemaking one better, and about fulfillment.
As a romance writer and as a woman married to the person she met at the age of 12—yes, I perhaps fall on the hopeless romantic side—I must admit that I do believe the benefits of marriage far outweigh the negatives.
However, I don’t think it’s always about the lofty benefits, financial aspects, or super abstract sentiments. As with many things in life, sometimes finding the true benefits and happiness of marriage is about appreciating the small stuff.
I say screw the “tax benefits” and push the lofty, classical literature-esque ideas aside. Let’s talk about the real benefits of saying “I do.”
1. Noises in the middle of the night don’t send me down a twisting spiral of doom.
“Did you hear that?” I whisper, startled from my deep sleep tucked under my comforter.
“Probably just the cat,” my husband responds as he rolls onto his side.
Makes sense. Makes total sense. I drift back to sleep.
Sometimes marriage is just about having someone to reassure you and to quiet your paranoid tendencies… or having someone to tiptoe down the stairs to check for a potential murderer and/or your fluffy cat who is knocking over all of your makeup downstairs.
2. I never have to claim the whole bag of [insert horrible junk food item here].
The bag of M&Ms I demolished? Clearly, it wasn’t me. He probably ate at least half of the bag, I reassure myself as I take another few handfuls.
Having a second person living with you helps detract from the food guilt complex. Having a second person who promised to love you no matter what means sometimes you can get away with inaccurate accusations… at least when it comes to delicious chocolates.
3. I only have to let the dog out 50 percent of the time.
Rock, paper, scissors clearly is a valid determination of who has to abandon “Stranger Things” to let out our mastiff. Married life is give-and-take. It’s about fairness and justice.
It’s about who has to brave the elements one more time before bed to let the dog out.
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4. I don’t feel bad for my greasy ponytail.
If he can promise to love me in sickness and health, I think he can love me through a second (or third, let’s be real) day of not washing my hair. I don’t feel the need to impress every single day—so the snooze button is mine, and the ponytail holder is ready to go.
5. I have a permeate for social events.
No awkward chatter with extended relatives I don’t know or someone’s sniffling aunt at the next wedding. I have a permeate to keep me company, to share inside jokes with, and to remind me when to slow down on the alcoholic beverages so I don’t make a fool of myself.
6. I have someone to share my life with, good and bad.
And, at the end of the day, it’s not really about razors, dog potty responsibilities, dating, and ponytails. It’s about the fact that, despite the sacrifices and tough times, I have someone I truly want to share my life with. I have a man standing beside me to walk through this crazy, tumultuous journey.
I have a man who can make me smile with just a look, who doesn’t hesitate to give me his shoulder when I feel like life is falling apart.
To commit your life to someone is always difficult. It will always come with both challenges and triumphs.
It is by appreciating the small moments, though, that we can see the bigger picture.
Marriage can truly be a beautiful, fulfilling thing if we just take the time to appreciate what it’s really all about.
For some of us, the beauty comes in the form of middle-of-the-night reassurance and chocolate blaming. For some of us, it might be something completely different that we get out of the institution.
Still, I think the challenge is once one commits to this thing called marriage, he or she must strive to find the beauty, the value, and the benefits in the everyday moments.
Lindsay Detwiler is a contemporary romance author and high school English teacher. Learn more about her eight novels by visiting her website.
This article was originally published at Huffington Post. Reprinted with permission from the author.