Maggie returns home today after spending the Spring Festival holidays at her parents’ place up in the North East.
For the last nine days I’ve been thrown back into a lifestyle I had nearly forgotten – bachelorhood. Now before images of me out all night sniffin’ coke off the scarred ass of a 50 kuai hooker spring to mind – let me assure you, such is not my meaning. My deviated septum doesn’t allow for that anymore. 😉
No, what I mean is, I’ve had the run of the house. Responsible for its cluttered and cleanliness. Free to watch whatever show I want to watch – no debate. Free to cook non-Chinese food – every day. Free to stay up until all hours of the night on my computer and not feel guilty (nerdy, but not guilty). Free to drink 3, 4, 5, 10 beers with dinner and suffer no dirty looks. Free to stretch out over the entire bed without fear of gong-fu like recourse. And whats more…
Free to miss my wife.
Awe, cheese, I know. But well, it’s our first anniversary in two days, allow me some leeway.
Really though, our marriage is fantastic (take that fates!). We have our squabbles from time to time, as all do I suppose, but if anything we’ve grown more tolerant, understanding and accepting of each others flaws (she’s a patient, PATIENT woman) and argue remarkably little considering both of our stubborn streaks and the amount of cultural differences we deal with.
However, one thing I’d begun to notice in recent months and what crystallized for me since she’s been away is that it’s remarkably easy to take your wife for granted.
Those little things that seem like nothing when done every day, really do add up. Glaringly kind things like her, unprompted, going way out of her way to pick me up some fresh crusty bread, to more subtle things like popping her head in my office to tell me my dumplings have been finished cooking for 20 minutes (I have a remarkable ability to begin cooking something and then erase all memory of ever being in the kitchen).
I’ve long known that my quality of life is made up not by the large milestones defined by age, stature or money, but rather by the small moments. The long-tail of happiness, if you will.
I think what I’m realizing now is that this equally applies to a good marriage. When I think about the things I’ve missed about Maggie, they’re not the big things that might be expected. Rather, they are just the little every day things.
Though there’s no shortage of people that will say different, I always used to smirk on the occasion that someone would exclaim how much better their life was with their spouse in it. Perhaps because we live in a world where we’re taught (often by life itself) that love is fleeting, I always had that “yeah, just wait…” glint in my eye.
But now, I don’t know. Nietzsche said, “It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.” Looking at what I’ve missed most about Maggie while she’s been away, it’s not been the “lover” qualities (ok, ok, sure, missed that a bit too) as much as the “friend” characteristics.
Through choice and/or circumstance, Maggie really has become my best friend and I can’t wait for her to get home.