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如何维系婚姻?拥抱改变

更新时间:2017-4-25 10:37:54 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

To Stay Married, Embrace Change
如何维系婚姻?拥抱改变

A couple of years ago, it seemed as if everyone I knew was on the verge of divorce.

几年前,我认识的人好像都要离婚。

“He’s not the man I married,” one friend told me.

“他不是我结婚时的那个男人了,”一个朋友告诉我。

“She didn’t change, and I did,” said another.

“她没有变,我变了,”另一个说。

And then there was the no-fault version: “We grew apart.”

也有人不想谈谁对谁错:“我们分开了。”

Emotional and physical abuse are clear-cut grounds for divorce, but they aren’t the most common causes of failing marriages, at least the ones I hear about. What’s the more typical villain? Change.

情感和身体的虐待是离婚的明确理由,但它们并不是婚姻失败最常见的原因,至少从我听到的情况看是如此。更典型的问题是什么呢?是改变。

Feeling oppressed by change or lack of change; it’s a tale as old as time. Yet at some point in any long-term relationship, each partner is likely to evolve from the person we fell in love with into someone new — and not always into someone cuter or smarter or more fun. Each goes from rock climber to couch potato, from rebel to middle manager, and from sex crazed to sleep obsessed.

变化或缺乏变化让你感觉窒息,这没有什么新鲜的。然而,在任何长期的关系中,每个人都有可能从我们爱上的人变成另外一个人——并不总是会变得更可爱、更聪明或更有趣。每个人都从户外爱好者变成了死宅,从反叛者变成中层管理人员,从性爱狂变成嗜睡者。

Sometimes people feel betrayed by this change. They fell in love with one person, and when that person doesn’t seem familiar anymore, they decide he or she violated the marriage contract. I have begun to wonder if perhaps the problem isn’t change itself but our susceptibility to what has been called the “end of history” illusion.

有时候,人们会因为这种变化而感觉遭到了背叛。他们爱上一个人,当那个人变得不再熟悉的时候,他们就认为这个人违反了婚约。我已经开始怀疑,这个问题可能不仅仅是变化本身,还包括我们对“历史终结”这种幻觉的敏感?

“Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished,” the Harvard professor Daniel Gilbert said in a 2014 TED talk called “The Psychology of Your Future Self.” He described research that he and his colleagues had done in 2013: Study subjects (ranging from 18 to 68 years old) reported changing much more over a decade than they expected to.

哈佛大学教授丹尼尔·吉尔伯特(Daniel Gilbert)在2014年的TED演讲《关于未来的你的心理学》中称:“人类只是半成品,他们错误地认为自己是成品。”他谈到自己和同事们在2013年所做的研究:研究对象(从18岁到68岁)报告说,他们在十年时间里的变化远比预计的多。

In 2015, I published a book about where I grew up, St. Marks Place in the East Village of Manhattan. In doing research, I listened to one person after another claim that the street was a shadow of its former self, that all the good businesses had closed and all the good people had left. This sentiment held true even though people disagreed about which were the good businesses and who were the good people.

2015年,我出版了一本关于我在曼哈顿东村圣马可广场成长的书。在进行研究的时候,我听了一个又一个的人声称这条街沦落了,所有好的商铺都关闭了,所有优秀的人都离开了。即使人们对于哪些是好的商铺,哪些是优秀的人看法不一,这种感觉也是真实的。

Nostalgia, which fuels our resentment toward change, is a natural human impulse. And yet being forever content with a spouse, or a street, requires finding ways to be happy with different versions of that person or neighborhood.

怀旧是人类的一种自然冲动,它促发了我们对变化的愤慨。然而,要想永远对配偶,或者对一条街感到称心如意,就需要找到一些方法,对这个人或这个社区的不同版本感到满意。

Because I like to fix broken things quickly and shoddily (my husband, Neal, calls my renovation aesthetic “Little Rascals Clubhouse”), I frequently receive the advice: “Don’t just do something, stand there.”

由于我喜欢快速潦草地修理坏掉的东西(我的丈夫尼尔戏称我的修复美学是“小淘气俱乐部”),我经常得到这样的建议:“别动它,站在那里就好。”

Such underreacting may also be the best stance when confronted by too much or too little change. Whether or not we want people to stay the same, time will bring change in abundance.

当面对太多或太少变化时,这种不作为的反应也可能就是最好的立场。无论我们是否希望人们保持不变,时间都会带来诸多变化。

A year and a half ago, Neal and I bought a place in the country. We hadn’t been in the market for a house, but our city apartment is only 500 square feet, and we kept admiring this lovely blue house we drove by every time we visited my parents. It turned out to be shockingly affordable.

一年半前,我和尼尔在乡下买了一处房子。我们从来没有去市场上找过房子,我们在城里的公寓只有500平方英尺(约合46平方米)。每次去看望我父母的路上开车经过这栋可爱的蓝色房子的时候,我们都非常喜欢。结果,它的价格惊人的实惠。

So now we own a house. We bought furniture, framed pictures and put up a badminton net. We marveled at the change that had come over us. Who were these backyard-grilling, property-tax-paying, shuttlecock-batting people we had become?

所以现在,我们有了一栋自己的房子。我们买了家具,把照片放在相框里,还架起了羽毛球球网。我们对自己身上发生的变化惊叹不已。这两个在后院烧烤、交财产税、打羽毛球的人是谁啊?

When we met in our 20s, Neal wasn’t a man who would delight in lawn care, and I wasn’t a woman who would find such a man appealing. And yet here we were, avidly refilling our bird feeder and remarking on all the cardinals.

相识时,我和尼尔都20多岁。那时,他不是一个以打理草坪为乐的人,我也不觉得这种人有魅力。但现在,我们热衷于给鸟食槽添水加料和讨论红衣凤头鸟。

Neal, who hadn’t hammered a nail in all the years I’d known him, now had opinions on bookshelves and curtains, and loved going to the hardware store. He whistled while he mowed. He was like an alien. But in this new situation, I was an alien, too — one who knew when to plant bulbs and how to use a Crock-Pot, and who, newly armed with CPR and first aid certification, volunteered at a local camp. Our alien selves were remarkably compatible.

认识尼尔这么多年,我从未见他钉过一颗钉子,但他现在竟然对书架和窗帘有了见解,还喜欢上了逛五金店。他竟然会一边修剪草坪一边吹口哨。他简直像个陌生人。但在这种新环境中,我也是个陌生人——一个知道何时种下鳞茎、如何使用慢炖锅的陌生人,一个刚考取CPR急救证书、在当地的营地做志愿者的陌生人。我们俩的陌生自我显得格外般配。

Several long-married people I know have said this exact line: “I’ve had at least three marriages. They’ve just all been with the same person.” I’d say Neal and I have had at least three marriages: Our partying 20s, child-centric 30s and home-owning 40s.

我认识的好几个结婚很长时间的人都说过这样的话:“我至少有过三场婚姻。每一场都是和同一个人。”我要说的是我和尼尔至少有过三场婚姻:一场是在尽情玩乐的二十几岁,一场是在以子女为中心的三十几岁,另一场是在拥有房子的四十几岁。

Then there’s my abbreviated first marriage. Nick and I met in college and dated for a few months before dropping out and driving cross-country. Over the next few years, we worked a series of low-wage jobs. On the rare occasions when we discussed our future, he said he wasn’t ready to settle down because one day, he claimed, he would probably need to “sow” his “wild oats” — a saying I found tacky and a concept I found ridiculous.

此前我经历了短暂的第一次婚姻。我和尼克在大学校园里相识,约会没几个月便辍了学,一同驾车横穿美国。之后的几年里,我们从事了一系列低薪工作。我们极少讨论未来,偶尔讨论一下,他也会声称自己尚未做好安定下来的准备,因为照他所说,他可能需要“趁年轻放纵一番”——我认为这是句蹩脚的俗话,一个荒唐的概念。

When I told Neal about this years later, he said, “Maybe you found it ridiculous because you’d already done it.”

多年以后,当我跟尼尔谈起自己当年的想法时,他说,“你觉得它很荒唐,或许是因为你已经荒唐过了。”

It’s true that from ages 16 to 19 I had a lot of boyfriends. But with Nick, I became happily domestic. We adopted cats. I had changed in such a way that I had no problem being with just one person. I was done changing and thought he should be, too. Certainly, I thought he should not change into a man who sows oats.

的确,从16岁到19岁,我有过很多男朋友。但和尼克在一起时,我很乐于成为居家小妇人。我们养了猫。我改变良多,即便只面对一个人也没什么问题。我厌倦了改变,觉得他也应该是这样的。我当然认为他不应该变成一个过放荡生活的男人。

When we got married at the courthouse so he could get his green card (he was Canadian), I didn’t feel different the next day. We still fell asleep to “Politically Incorrect” with our cats at our feet as we always had.

为了让他获得绿卡(他是加拿大人),我们在法院结了婚,但第二天我并未觉得有何不同。我们一如既往地看着《政治不正确》(Politically Incorrect)入睡,猫咪一如既往地待在我们脚边。

We told anyone who asked that the marriage was no big deal, just a formality so the government wouldn’t break us up. But when pressed, it was hard to say what differentiated us from the truly married beyond the absence of a party.

我们告诉所有问及此事的人,这场婚姻没什么大不了,只是走个过场,这样一来政府就不能把我们分开了。但追究起来,很难说我们和真正结了婚的夫妇有什么不同——除了缺少一场派对。

When I grew depressed a few months later, I decided that he and our pseudo-marriage were part of the problem. After three years of feeling like the more committed person, I was done and asked him to move out. When he left, I felt sad but also thrilled by the prospect of dating again. A couple of years later, I met Neal.

过了几个月,我变得很抑郁,并且认为他和我们的虚假婚姻是问题的一部分。当了三年的像是更为投入的一方,我受够了,让他搬走。他离开时,我很难过,但也对可以再次约会的日子充满憧憬。几年后,我遇到了尼尔。

Recently, I asked Nick if we could talk. We hadn’t spoken in a decade. He lives in London now, so we Skyped. I saw that he looked almost exactly as he had at 22, though he’d grown a long beard. We had a pleasant conversation. Finally, I asked him if he thought our marriage counted.

最近,我问尼克我们能不能谈谈。我们已有十年没交谈过了。他目前住在伦敦,因此我们用Skype聊了聊。我发现他的样子几乎跟22岁时没什么差别,尽管他留了长长的大胡子。我们聊得很愉快。最后我问,在他看来我们的婚姻算不算数。

“Yeah,” he said. “I think it counts.”

“算啊,”他说。“我觉得算。”

We were married, just not very well. The marriage didn’t mean much to us, and so when things got rough, we broke up. I had been too immature to know what I was getting into. I thought passion was the most important thing. When my romantic feelings left, I followed them out the door. It was just like any breakup, but with extra paperwork.

我们结了婚,只不过情况不怎么好。这场婚姻对我们来说没有太大意义,因此当情况变糟时,我们分开了。我太不成熟,不知道自己在做什么。我以为激情是最重要的。当浪漫的感觉离开时,我跟着它们出了门。这和以前的任何一次分手没有任何不同,只是需要额外办些手续。

Nick now works at a European arts venue. He’s unmarried. I wouldn’t have predicted his life or his facial hair. I don’t regret our split, but if we had stayed married, I think I would have liked this version of him.

尼克眼下在一家欧洲艺术中心工作。他是单身。我没有料到他会过着这样的生活或者会留胡子。我没有对分手感到后悔,但我们如果没离婚,我想我会喜欢这个样子的他。

My hair is long and blond now. When Neal and I met, it was dyed black and cut to my chin. When I took to bleaching it myself, it was often orange, because I didn’t know what I was doing.

我现在有着长长的金发。遇到尼尔那会儿,我留着到下巴的短发,染成了黑色。当我自行漂染头发时,它们通常是橘色的,因为我不知道自己在干什么。

Now I weigh about 160 pounds. When I left the hospital after being treated for a burst appendix, I weighed 140. When I was nine months pregnant and starving every second, I weighed 210. I have been everything from size 4 to 14. I have been the life of the party and a drag. I have been broke and loaded, clinically depressed and radiantly happy. Spread out over the years, I’m a harem.

现在我的体重是160磅左右。当我治好突发性阑尾炎,离开医院时,我的体重是140磅。当我怀着9个月的身孕,每一秒钟都感到饥饿时,我的体重是210磅。从4码到14码的衣服我都穿过。我曾纵情狂欢,也曾痛苦乏味地捱时间。我曾一文不名,也曾腰缠万贯,曾患上重性抑郁症,也曾喜气洋洋。这么多年下来,我有过许多种样子。

How can we accept that when it comes to our bodies (and everything else, for that matter), the only inevitability is change? And what is the key to caring less about change as a marriage evolves — things like how much sex we’re having and whether or not it’s the best sex possible?

我们如何才能坦然接受:说到我们的身体(或者其他所有的一切),唯一不变的就是改变?我们如何才能在婚姻继续之际,少关注某些变化——比如性爱的次数,以及这是不是最佳的性爱。

One day in the country, Neal and I heard a chipmunk in distress. It had gotten inside the house and was hiding under the couch. Every few minutes, the creature let out a high-pitched squeak. I tried to sweep it out the door to safety with a broom, but it kept running back at my feet.

待在乡间的一天,我和尼尔听到了一只落难的花栗鼠的动静。它进到房子里,躲在沙发下。每隔几分钟,这个小家伙就会吱吱地尖叫一番。我试图用一把扫帚把它赶到门外安全的地方去,但它不停地跟在我身后跑回来。

“Wow, you’re dumb,” I said to it.

“哇,你真笨,”我对它说。

“I got this,” Neal said, mysteriously carrying a plastic cereal bowl. “Shoo it out from under there.”

“交给我了,”尼尔神神秘秘地拿着一只塑料碗,说道。“把它从底下赶出来。”

I did, and the chipmunk raced through the living room. Neal, like an ancient discus thrower, tossed the bowl in a beautiful arc, landing it perfectly atop the scampering creature. He then slid a piece of cardboard under the bowl and carried the chipmunk out into the bushes, where he set it free.

我照做了,花栗鼠在起居室里匆匆跑过。尼尔像古代的掷铁饼者一样,把碗抛了出去。塑料碗划出一道优美的弧线,正好罩住那个惊惶奔跑的小家伙。他随后把一张纸板贴着地面推到碗下,带着花栗鼠到了外边的灌木丛那里,把它放走了。

“That was really impressive,” I said.

“刚才那下可真开眼,”我说。

“I know,” he said.

“我知道,”他说。

To feel awed by a man I thought I knew completely: It’s a shock when that happens after so many years. And a boon. That one fling of a bowl probably bought us another five years of marriage.

这么多年下来,还能对一个我本以为自己已经全然了解的男人心生钦佩,对我是种冲击。也是一种福音。他抛出一只碗,或许可以让我们的婚姻多维持五年。

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