Today, the talented Elizabeth Barone gives us insight into how creative sorts can run into trouble in their romantic life, and how to avoid it! Enjoy!
I’m getting married in six weeks. This on its own is a lot. Throw in trying to ramp up my writing career, and I’ve been stressed.
The definition of marriage varies from person to person. Some see it as a holy ceremony. Some see it as simply the legal merging of two lives. The whole “merging” thing hasn’t been easy. These days, my attention is divided almost neatly in two. Part of my brain is all “Need to order our wedding rings this week!” and the other part is going “You know such-and-such project is due tomorrow, right?”
Stir in financial worries—because all of these things cost money—and a lack of sleep because stress-stress-stress—and I often don’t know whether I’m coming or going.
My fiance and I both have artists’ souls. I am a lot of things, but without my art, I don’t feel like much of anything. I often worry that, in the process of becoming a married couple, my art might suffer or get left behind entirely. To be clear, Mike has been my loudest cheerleader from the start. He’s encouraged me to do a lot of things that other people scoffed at or that I was afraid to try. I’m constantly bouncing ideas off him (and
But my poor, neurotic, artistic self gets a little lost when thinking of how I will fit into this marriage. I’ve always been able to make snap decisions about my business, without having to worry about how they will affect Mike. I’ve been chasing my dream of being a full-time author, without really having to consider a backup plan. What if, my frazzled mind worries, I fail? What will happen to us?
“When you’re married, you have to think of another person, and art is a very selfish activity.” –Lois Dodd
Art is often a lonely endeavor. I’ve always been introverted. Mike is the opposite. He’s loud and makes friends with strangers down the street from us. When I’m creating, I’m locked in my head. I don’t want to make him feel as though he’s being shut out.
Then there’s the issue of children. Since I will be working from home as a fulltime author, it’s logical that I would stay home with our (very future) children and raise them. While I definitely want children (someday), I worry that my writing will have to be put on hiatus.
Artists looking at marriage need to discuss these things with their spouses. Communication is key in any relationship, but I think even more so when you’re dealing with a couple where one or both partners are working artists. It doesn’t need to end your marriage before it’s even begun, but I do think those issues need to be talked over.
Daniel Grant covers several of these issues in his article, Love and Marriage, Artist Style. But how do we talk about them?
Make a list of your concerns. Yes, lists are my crack. They’re super helpful, though, in organizing your thoughts. Jot down any worries you might have so that, when you do sit down, you don’t miss anything.
Create a budget. Life in general costs money, but artistic endeavors can be expensive, too. Decide how much money will be put aside toward living expenses, groceries and supplies, and art.
Keep talking. Any time something comes up, voice your concern. Share what you’re doing. You don’t have to ask permission to create, per se, but your work shouldn’t be a deep, dark secret, either. Large purchases should be discussed so that your finances aren’t set back.
Decide on a plan. If you’re looking to make a living with your art, you should be organized with a business plan, but as a couple, you should also have a plan. A couple I know has a pact: she has five years to make a full-time income off her writing, and he will support their family in the meantime. (Read more on transitioning to full-time over at Pen and Muse.) Yours doesn’t have to be as serious or burdened by a time limit, but it’s a good idea to have some sort of plan in place—even if it’s just a backup plan.
Discuss roles. If one spouse is working a nine-to-five and the other works from home, household chores still need to get done. For example, if the wife works full-time as a teacher, she might cook dinner when she gets home. The husband writes full-time from home, but does the cleaning, dishes, and laundry throughout the day. Make sure both partners are aware of their responsibilities so that no one is overburdened.
I’m not a marriage expert or anything, but these things have worked for us throughout the last seven years. I think we’ll be just fine, even though the legendary “cold feet” have attacked me. I think communication is the key; at the core of everything else, you still have to talk and listen.
What are your tips for a successful artists’ marriage? Share in the comments below!
Elizabeth Barone is the author of the soap opera serial, Sandpaper Fidelity, and the forthcoming novel for twenty-somethings, Crazy Comes in Threes. Her debut novel, Sade on the Wall, was a quarterfinalist in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. Visit Elizabeth’s website to learn more.
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