Thursday, November 16, 2006
Married to a Tormented Artist
If I ever write a novel, it will be about a marriage, because I think marriage is the Great Mystery. No one can know the truth about someone else’s marriage. (Probably we can hardly even know the truth about our own.) I’m very curious about other people’s marriages. (But then, I’m very curious about most things about other people. Which is why I am a peeping tom, either through windows at dusk [from the street! sheesh! I wouldn’t walk right UP to a window—what do you think I am??], or through reading fiction so that I can peek into other peoples’ minds.)
I had a really hard time with both of my marriage decisions. (For those of you who don’t know, the first one ended in a broken engagement. That is a whole nother story for another day.) One of the things that made my decision to marry Roger so difficult was that he was NOTHING like what I had always pictured my future husband would be.
Of course, when I was quite young, the person I was going to marry was Donny Osmond. When I grew out of that, it was Steven Kapp Perry, which is very daring of me to admit since there is the very slight chance that he might actually read this someday because we are sort of on-line acquaintances now--very distantly. (But, come on, you can’t blame me. All us fifteen-year-olds hoped we’d marry him. He was, after all, doing the fireside circuit as an unmarried young man with a beautiful voice during the time we were all in seminary. Forgive me, Steve. Now I suppose you’ll never be able to meet my eyes when we meet in person.)
Later on, in college, I had imagined somebody tall (well, we got that one right, at least), dark, older, brooding, mysterious artsy guy—sort of an intellectual Mr. Darcy. I particularly hoped he would be a professor (slightly better than a writer because at least he would make a regular income with benefits).
So I met this guy who first of all looked really young, with blond curly hair and dancing eyes who hardly ever read a book for fun but who I just couldn’t get off my mind or out of my life! A couple of times I tried to get rid of him but I just couldn’t do without him for long. He made me come out of my brooding cave into the sun, to move my body and giggle and play. He taught me not to take myself so seriously. He was my best friend. I had to have him in my life—but MARRY HIM? What about Mr. Serious, Mr. Artist, Mr. Professor? Luckily, I eventually saw that Mr. Happy was exactly what I needed, and Mr. Brooding was exactly what would be disastrous for me.
I scare myself sometimes when I think of what would have happened if I had married Mr. Professor. I would now be a bitter woman. Because being a professor (and especially being a writer) was MY dream. How awful to spend my life staying home with kids while my HUSBAND got to go to work doing my dream job! How miserable to watch him spending time writing and reading and teaching all day long when that’s what I wanted to be doing! To say nothing of the awkwardness and envy if he turned out to have more talent in the things I cared about. The marriage wouldn’t have survived grad school!
I eventually kind of developed a theory that it is only with difficulty that a marriage can handle more than one artistic spouse. So I’m very curious about other marriages in which one or both spouses are artistic. But I can’t exactly ask my writing friends, “So, how’s your marriage?” LDS marriages, in particular, must be awfully difficult when both want to become artists, because we Mormons feel so guilty when we spend time writing that could be spent in our calling, with our family, doing family history, attending the temple, etc. How could two spouses carve out time for themselves to practice their craft without great difficulty?
So, what do you think of my theory? Do you ever wonder what Orson Scott Card’s wife thinks of all this? Richard Dutcher’s? Anyone else?