Marriage is a foreign country where a special language is spoken, a dialect primarily comprised of facial ticks, tongue clicks, and eye flicks known only to its citizens.
Marriage is a foreign country in which the customs are odd and not shared with outsiders, interlopers—or even the neighbors. (While they might be told of such customs, they mostly won’t believe them. Your lover didn’t. Your second wife never will.)
Marriage is a foreign country without children. While it’s true that children often result from marriage, they reside just outside its civil borders in their own milky blue lands. They are not allowed into the Marrieds country, only rarely glimpsing the terrifying vistas within. Such glances will mark them dearly.
Marriage is a foreign country with unique holidays and special foods. There’s that bone marrow—like hot garlicky snot—we shuddered over on your birthday in Pt. Reyes. Remember the squid-ink pasta we accidentally ordered our first time in Venice? Put those down; you know we only eat Fritos at the beach, and then only in April.
Marriage is a foreign county in which everyone is a doctor. Citizens diagnose physical ailments and mental flaws with equal acuity. Everyone is a lawyer, dispensing confident, fluent advice. Each is a judge, deliberating fault or innocence daily, hourly, sometimes by the very minute. And the entire damn place is filled with licensed pharmacists who dispense pills and wine and herbs and yoga.
Marriage is a foreign country with a dual population unsatisfactory to tourism, shuttered to children, and inexplicable to friends that sometimes suffers war-torn borders, drought and famine, and internal strife. Its GDP is variable,its employment rate important, its RBI duly noted.
In the foreign country that is marriage, memories are a shared national heritage of odd dialect and strange customs and midnight diapering and hot garlicky snot and free legal advice and closed borders known only to its citizens. Population: 2.
This essay originally appeared on Medium.com.