Every 4 years, 6 in some places, you have to renew your drivers license – despite the fact that if you drive often enough, it’s pretty hard to all of a sudden forget what the hell you’re supposed to do behind the wheel. We have to renew a license for a skill that’s fairly ingrained in most of us.

So why don’t we have to renew marriage licenses – especially when it’s not so much a skill that might be lost, but the desire to be married in the first damn place? I think the divorce rate would go WAY down if, every 10 years, you both had to sign a piece of paper declaring that yep, you still wanted to keep at it for another 10 years with the same person. This could be why Doug Christie’s wife has a new wedding ceremony every year – to be sure they’re still in it to win it. Although my real take on it is that poor Doug doesn’t have a say in the matter and would get beat down by his wife if he voiced any objection. (If you don’t get the Doug Christie reference, click here.)

When I was growing up, I used to declare that I did not want to get married. I was scared of the banality of it, the passion quickly melting into dull routine – or worse, nothingness. Now, being married and a mom myself, I certainly understand that it is hard to maintain that initial level of heightened excitement. Your breath no longer quickens when your spouse walks into the room, you don’t get chills at the thought of your last sexual encounter. It’s like The Matrix – first time around it was new, breathtaking, groundbreaking cinema, but by the 100th viewing, you’ve seen this puppy before and it’s just Not That Exciting.

Besides, you’ve got kids that force you to wear clothes in the house – real clothes, not flimsy whispers of see-through stuff – and that have the audacity to crawl into your bed at ungodly hours of the morning, hours when, in days of yore, you would either have been Sleeping After A Great Night or Not Sleeping Due To A Great Morning, if you catch my drift. So even when you want to Recapture The Magic, a little voice magically demands your attention at just that moment, with something along the lines of “I see fireflies in my room and I’m scared,” and so much for that, let’s try again next week.

So, you drop into routine. A routine as predictable as what you eat on Saturday mornings or chauffeuring the kids to soccer on Wednesdays or who takes out the garbage in the evenings. And this goes on and on and on and on – until one day, one of you wakes up.

Note that I said one of you, because that’s usually the case; it’s rare that 2 people reach the same epiphany at the same time. So what happens if your spouse is apparently okay with the Dead Zone you now live in? And what does that even mean? Because it can mean one of 2 things: either the spouse hasn’t yet experienced their own awakening, in which case you’re hard pressed to get them to understand the urgency of the problem until you’re walking out the door, or they crossed that bridge a while back, did not communicate with you about it, and moved on privately, no longer interested in fixing the problem.

At least, not with you.

Whether your spouse is Not Yet Awake or Woke Up A Long Time Ago, you have a problem.

Perhaps just knowing that a partner could opt out within a few years would be enough to keep some people on their toes. It might inspire a few more Bouquets For No Reason, or Candlelight Dinners, or Notes in the Lunchbox. It might inspire folks to buy the Kama Sutra and Try Some New Stuff. And then, if all of that failed, at least those people who tried to work on it and found that they were on different pages – or reading entirely different books altogether – could reclaim their lives and their passion and some spontaneity, somehow, somewhere, without going through the ugly drama of the D-word.

Although, now that I think of it, at least drama is a form of excitement…

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2 Responses to “Licenses”

  1. Audrey says:

    Hey Woman! I love the idea of renewing the marriage license every ten years.

    I had to comment coming from the (still!) single side. There can be a certain banality to being single and dating, too. And marriage certainly looks good to me, especially on weekends and during holidays when I think about how nice it would be to have someone else around to just hang with. It happens, but not on any kind of reliable basis–feast, then famine. There is that wonderful place that married couples can get to where they can be in the same room for hours and not have to say a word–t’s a beautiful thing. I know I’m using the old “grass is always greener argument” but there are moments when I’m huffing up the stairs with my laundry, or preparing a nice meal, or seeing something outrageous or amazing on television, and I’d like to have someone on a regular, basis to share these things with. Sincere and honest advice. Someone to share anxieties with and joy. And there is the wanting a child and wanting someone to share the truly awesome experience of helping that child grow–I would really only want to do that married.

    I guess I haven’t pressed the issue because I’ve been afraid that I might lose the high of the “new”, the heightened level of excitement. But love is so many things it just has to move out of that and into something else or it would implode. I think I might need to grow up.

    Anyway, my two single person cents.

  2. Leian says:

    I don’t think it’s possible to maintain that heightened level of “newness” forever, not by a long shot. Nor is it that desirable, when you realize it… There is definitely a comfort factor when you don’t have to be “on” all the time, when you can stop sucking in your gut, aren’t afraid to be seen looking bedraggled, when you can feel more relaxed because you’re secure and safe. But it’s so easy for secure and safe to move to laziness. Just because you don’t have to make an effort every day in order to keep someone doesn’t mean you should stop making that effort altogether – and I find too many people doing that and then wondering why their marriages went sour or why someone cheated. I do love being able to look at my husband and know what he’s thinking or feeling. But I also love when I feel his eyes on me and feel as though I am taken back 10 years, when the look is not just a tenderness softened by the years but still an earthy lust that shows that he actively wants me, wants to be with me,and isn’t just here for the kids or for the comfort of home-cooked meal. I mean, really, he can get that at Boston Market, you know?