Partnerships Through Hardships
Occasionally I see people ascribe their success to "marrying well." What about those with illnesses and disabilities? Everyone deserves love!
Sometimes such success stories come with boatloads of money, children, and comfortable, healthy lives. Yet what about those people that do not get healthy lives? Are they to be left in the mud?
Thus I'm always amused and happy for people who have it relatively "easy" with their relationships and marriages. Everyone struggles and has friction in their relationships, but some people face more difficult trials.
Like my own parents, who struggled with my mom's cancer battle. Watching them taught me how to better love another person. Trials of that intensity force you to confront the uncomfortable reality of loving commitments.
I try to emulate that unconditional love within my relationships. No matter what surprises comes up, I intend to be a loving and supportive person. I already know that I'm capable of that depth of love thanks to my own trials.
Everyone deserves love. Despite the social stigma, having an illness or disability or addiction should not preclude you from finding a good partner.
The "Life Hack" of Marrying Well
There's this notion about marrying well that circulates the personal finance community from time to time. That by choosing the "right" person, you will be set up for success in life.
Usually this take comes with a heavy helping of sexism. For instance, how a wife keeping a "happy home" and staying in the kitchen in domestic service is the "ultimate life hack for a man."
In the less egregious examples though, the "life hack" of marrying well focuses on being careful about not jumping into unhealthy relationships or fundamentally incompatible arrangements. It also focuses on choosing partners who will help you grow and succeed in life.
Sometimes there's related points, like how "marrying the right person is a cheat code to life" and the common advice of "marry an engineer." The implication is that you can become wealthy with the right partner.
It's almost as if the people talking about marrying well are usually conflating relationship success with financial gain. It's a common mistake in our capitalistic society to equate money with value.
Yet I take exception to this belief about marrying well on several accounts.
For one, it's kind of random what you get in the lottery of life. You don't so much "choose" well as get lucky with partners. There's also significant amounts of survivorship bias and problems attributing where success even comes from.
That is to say, did someone choose well and become successful for it? Or did they have privilege and choose a similarly privileged partner and then never had a major life upset?
Marrying young is also a problem in my eyes, despite the fact that I did it myself. Marriage at a young age is hitting the point of maximum confusion and self-development and life changes for most people.
How are you supposed to know what's a good long-term partner when you're changing, they're changing, and you don't have the wisdom of life experience yet?
Marrying young can be a huge boon to your finances. If it goes well. If it backfires, it will do so in a way that resounds through significant portions of your life. It's high risk, some reward.
Yet society seems eager to push for early marriages in myriad ways, mostly through financial incentives. Society is prejudiced against solo people, and the "marrying well" take feeds into this.
Some people are better off without marriage, but the "marrying well" crowd portrays it as a major advantage you're missing out on if you skip it.
Illness and Ableism in Picking a Spouse
Is depression a hard boundary for you to build a partnership? If a date tells you that they suffer from it, does that end any opportunity out of the gate?
What if they don't know they have depression until a year after you start dating – would you leave them on the spot when they find out, or do love and commitment and sunk cost fallacy have their claws sunk into you?
What about cancers, bipolar disorder, or being Deaf? Have you examined the extent of your boundaries surrounding those?
For many people it's a sliding boundary. They will stick with a partner who receives a cancer diagnosis after several years together. Yet would they willingly choose to start a new relationship with someone who has that diagnosis already?
Most everyone will face problems in life, it's just a matter of timing and how expected they are.
Sometimes we will walk with eyes wide open into some of the toughest hardships of our lifetimes. Other times, we will get surprise diagnoses or car crashes or global pandemics.
Which is not to say that disabilities or illnesses will necessarily be hardships or burdensome to others, by the way. Being disabled doesn't make you unlovable nor troublesome, though internalised ableism may make it feel like that is the case.
Which is one of my core issues with "marrying well." It's ableist in almost every example I've seen, treats certain people as unlovable, or patronises them, or doesn't recognise the equality in a partnership.
You Deserve Love Even With Mental Illnesses
My dearheart sent me a meme the other morning about how to protect loved ones from mental illness: "keep away from anyone you like so as to not ruin their life."
I disagreed immediately, and reminded him that he deserves to be loved no matter what illnesses he faces.
It's also not just him that needs a reminder, most everyone in my life needs it from time to time. We all struggle.
The thing with my commitment is that it means unconditional love. I've made a conscious choice to love a person, and in doing so I've chosen all the problems they entail too:
I wish I could kiss all his faults to claim ownership of those too, for my responsibility is all of his beautiful, imperfect self. I can't salve and solve his insecurities, but I can validate that my dearheart is worthy of love. I can't fix all his problems, but I can hold him tight and whisper reminders that he's mine.
– Entwined in my Gentle Femdom Relationship
I love my partners deeply, no matter what problems we will have to face in life – we will face them together.
I believe that most everyone in life deserves quality care and love like that.
Most especially deserving of love are people with depression issues or self-esteem issues that make them feel as if nobody should tolerate their down days for the sake of the good days. It's a trap of lies that depressed thoughts build.
People that love you chose you for good reasons. Down days don't change that.
Closing Thoughts on Unemployed Partners
One of the aspects of "marrying well" is that they pick partners who will either do domestic duties for them, or will be high income earners. What then is a partner's value to the relationship, something purely transactional?
There's a wide array of needs that a partner can fulfil, and it's a shame to reduce somebody down to just what work they can provide.
This is especially true for partners who are suffering through hardships. Things are difficult enough without them needing to worry about performing relationship duties atop the hardships.
Ever since my dearheart quit his job back when I started this blog, I've contemplated the many ways he adds to my life beyond chores and bringing in money.
It makes me glad that we're in a stable enough and privileged enough position where we can afford to support each other. It doesn't matter whether he's bringing in money or not, because we are comfortable as is.
Yes we could achieve financial independence sooner with him working, but I value more than just racing to my goalpost:
Luckily for my dearheart, I do not mistake money for value. My measure of value in a relationship includes service, fulfilment, creativity, comfort, and more. I ensure that he's clearly appreciated for being who he is, not for his working identity.
– Acts of Service at Home and Productivity Culture