Last night Min Gi and I sat down and spent two hours talking about budgeting, financial goals, monthly expenditures, assets, and debts. And it was so much FUN. I didn't expect that. Money makes me extremely nervous--a bad habit I picked up from my dad, who I am more like than I care to admit in good ways and bad. I have been terrified about the idea of merging our finances and nervous about relinquishing control of my independent financial life, but you know what? Being married makes this stuff more exciting. You can talk about anything and everything you want to do, and with the power of two people, you can achieve it even faster!
I've been married now for a little over two months--a tiny blip in the lifetime that I plan to spend with my husband. However, Koreans seem to love asking, "How is married life?" I answer the question in a different way every time, but always prefaced with a "Great!"
Really... I love being married to Min Gi. I thought I would secretly hate it. That somehow the feminist in me would feel subjugated and dimmed by my participating in the institution. I think some of this is assuaged by the fact that I am the prime "breadwinner" (although I despise that term), and will likely continue to be so throughout our relationship because I have an advanced degree and a career.
Perhaps, if I had married the wrong person I would feel more confined and constrained by the idea of marriage. But I was a little lucky (in meeting such a great guy) and very smart (in choosing to be with him). We have so much fun together just talking and dancing and sharing our life that it would be kind of sickening for an outsider to witness. So many times I've wanted to post little "He did/said this today" posts, but I've never been so gushy before about someone. It's ridiculous.
I think my co-workers and students who ask are expecting a different answer. Most female newlyweds in Korea are deeply conflicted. They are happy with their newly gained status, but struggle to adjust to living outside their family's home for the first time. Often, they don't know their fiance that well (people my age date about four months before wedding), so starting to live together is a huge shock. Furthermore the pressure to make babies starts from day one, but young couples are often living with the groom's parents, making the necessary privacy to make babies a bit difficult to come by.
I admit, I get a little kick out of shattering their preconceived notions of wedded misery. "Of course my husband does the dishes--I cook!" "Yes, he cleans most of the house because I work all day and right now he's only part time." "In America, he will probably be a stay at home dad." You'd think in a society as gender-role conservative as Korea, where women are prized for their beauty and men for their wallets, that such statements would earn pity from other women. But really, they all stew with envy.
And tonight Min Gi came home after swing dance (I couldn't go because of busy testing at work--boo!) and announced the mother of all things husbands can say in Korea that women dream of hearing:
"I think I want to give up drinking."
Can't wait to share that one with my co-workers and watch them turn positively green. (Don't worry... I convinced Min Gi that all he needs to do is to learn to control his drinking in a way that makes him happy... like only drinking two drinks when you go out with friends. I'm not the fun police.)