My Husband Was Too Good for Me
I often wonder whether my husband will leave me for someone nicer.
It’s not that I’m not nice. It’s just that the guy I married is Good-with-a-capital-G. Nick is kind and nice, even to Uber drivers who blast Megadeath on the way to the airport or to people who bring fake service animals on planes. He genuinely wants to make the world a better place and he’s dedicated his entire career to doing just that. He thinks the best of people well before he would ever consider the worst.
I consider myself a normal person who can sometimes be judgmental and unpleasant to be around if I haven’t had a snack. I haven’t dedicated my life to making the world a better place. In fact, during my stint as a celebrity journalist, I was definitely making the world a worse place by keeping the Kardashians in business.
Even his ex-girlfriends adore him.
I’ve had exes describe me, in no particular order, as the love of their lives, a psychotic bitch, the one who got away and the kind of girl you date, but don’t marry. Nick’s ex-girlfriends think he’s an absolute delight and still cling to him like grapes on a vine, or chronic hemorrhoids. I should have been happy I was marrying someone who inspired such loyalty in the people he’s broken up with. Instead, it just gets on my nerves—further proof that I’m not a very good or enlightened person.
I kept these thoughts to myself in the months leading up to our wedding, but it kept nagging at me, lingering in the back of my head. It was that thing that wake me at four in the morning and stick around while I stared at the time, counting down to dawn on my phone.
This was my version of pre-wedding jitters, I kept telling myself. It was normal. In the pantheon of problems with your future spouse, the fact that I thought he was a better person than I was ranked as fairly feeble, below not liking the way he placed the toilet paper on the roll.
Our wedding was perfectly imperfect. We flew to Mexico for a mini-moon, a trip I’d combined with research for the book I was working on, How to Be Married. In the midst of snorkeling, margarita drinking and consummating our marriage, we met with a guru in the Yucatan jungle. He advised us that the best thing we could do for our new union, the thing that would make us healthy, strong and ready to be a married couple was to talk about everything that was bothering us to shed some of our emotional baggage.
I was supposed to pour out my concerns and fears to my new husband, but I was terrified to even say the words out loud. Should I lie? I wondered.
“Sometimes I don’t know why you love me so much…” I began.
I sucked in a breath. If there was any time to be vulnerable wasn’t it here, on our honeymoon, in the halcyon newlywed period before life got truly difficult with the addition of things like kids or a mortgage?
“Sometimes I think I’m not good enough for you. Sometimes I’m worried you’ll run off with the kind of girl I think you should be with—one who likes roughing it outdoors with just a fishing pole and tarp. One who’s less superficial and is single-handedly solving the world’s water problem, one who’s very calm and chill and likes jam bands and would never scream at an Uber driver.”
The words felt juvenile once I said them out loud. I went on with my anxieties, tensions and neuroses pouring out of my mouth. If I were still Catholic I’d call it confession, a spilling of the soul without interruption.
Then it was Nick’s turn.
“Oh baby girl. I don’t know how you can think you’re not a good person. I’m just as scared as you are. I fear that I’ll fail you in some way or fail myself. I worry about not being good enough too. You’re the most dynamic and driven person I’ve ever met. You push me and challenge me. I worry that I don’t challenge you. What if I can’t make you happy?”
Did he really say that? He said he thought he wasn’t good enough for me? That thing that I didn’t want to talk about, that I was scared to say out loud, my husband felt that thing too? Now that we’d both said it, it felt like a much smaller thing.
You’ll probably be as surprised as I was to learn that one of the most poignant quotes about the importance of maintaining conversation in your marriage comes from Friedrich Nietzsche, the prolific German philosopher and maybe-father of fascism. In one of his earlier works, Human, All Too Human, Nietzsche applauded the importance of husbands and wives talking to one another.
“Marriage is a long conversation. When entering into a marriage one ought to ask oneself: do you believe you are going to enjoy talking with this woman up into your old age? Everything else in marriage is transitory, but most of the time you are together will be devoted to conversation,” he wrote.
Talking was the secret.
My fear hasn’t completely gone away, but it’s better. Good-with-a-capital-G isn’t really a thing, but a symptom of my own insecurities. I don’t know why I needed a guru in a Mexican jungle to remind me of that, but sometimes people who wear caftans in business casual situations simply know more about how you should live your life than you do.
Jo Piazza is the best selling author of the memoir How to Be Married: What I Learned From Real Women on Five Continents About Surviving My First (Really Hard) Year of Marriage.