The only meaningful thing I've heard Mr. Doctor Phil say is [insert southern drawl] "Marriage is not a long date."
Dating is easy. Anyone can hold their shit together for four hours at a restaurant. If they cannot, then they're cast aside. "Next!" You'll say, and in comes the next applicant. Well, when you're married, you have to hold your shit together every day and every night. You can yell "Next!" all you want but the same person keeps coming back to the table.
My husband and I have been married for twelve years. That's a record for me and a first for him. During our honeymoon in Hawaii, we signed up for a kayak tour with a side of snorkel. Our guide was a young, presumably single, slacker who was probably wearing everything he owned. There was another couple with us who were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary.
The guide, let's call him The Big Cooter, told me to sit in the front and Kent to sit in the back. I decided The Big Cooter was a egocentric male chauvinist pig because he unceremoniously puts the "husband" in the steering seat on the sheer presumption that since he has a penis, he'll steer the boat better. But sure, I totally understand that. I mean, what if I'm menstruating or PMSing and I just flip out and stand-up in the boat shouting "Fuck you all!" and I jump in. This, of course, will cause all the man eating sharks to circle our party and then men will have to come to our rescues by slinging their giant dicks over the side of the kayak so I can grab on and pull myself to safety. I had, in fact, been boating throughout my life, and Kent had not. I was also a firefighter and did not lack upper body strength. So, I was pissed.
As we tried to follow the guide in his kayak, we fell farther and farther behind. The old couple was keeping up just fine, but we could not coordinate our stroking and steering. We were talking "pissy" to each other and not being very supportive, to say the least.
By the time we got to the diving spot, I never wanted to get in another boat with THAT MAN again. I chatted with the other woman for a while before I had the courage to ask her "How long does it take before you can kayak together" and she smiled very knowingly and said "Years."
She was right. It did take years and I'm still not perfect and neither is he, I guess. We have not gotten back into a kayak together, but we've done other things that require cooperation: Family vacations, dinner, raising children, dishes, sharing a bathroom, deciding on cars, choosing a movie. All these moments of partnership and I've learned something about myself: I'm imperfect. I sometimes have to spend days of arguing in my head with a voice that nobody else can hear, I have to call other women I respect and beg for wisdom, before I can say something that's helpful instead of hurtful. I've learned that sometimes it's better to give in and go with the flow. I've learned that nobody wins an argument, but everyone grows.
If I were to go on that vacation again, I'd take one look at the kayak and say "The Honeymoon is over, Pal. Let's just go lay on the beach."