What is so wrong with marriage?
Lately, I’ve noticed this huge trend on twitter where people speak out against marriage. Statements like “Wedding dress – RED RED RED” or “The day you get married is the day you die.” I don’t know the stories of the people who tweet these. Perhaps they were married once and it was so awful they think the whole idea is for the dogs. (Pets marrying is, I think, a really stupid idea).
I’ve had a marriage that was less than stellar. From what I’ve heard in feedback via comments and twitter, a lot of people can relate and have similar stories. Sometimes its a choice made out of stupidity, youth, being blind to reality, or sheer hope that things could change. Maybe you and your partner change so much that marriage just doesn’t make sense anymore.
So, is there even a point to getting married?
Yes, I think so. I read a recent blog article by Mr. Masquerade and he is very cynical about marriage and even long term relationships. In his view, it is too restricting and you lose your independence and sense of self. You risk your dreams for someone else. And how can anyone realistically promise to love someone and stay loyal forever, when you don’t know who you’ll be in 5 years? It seems that the only risk and reward to marriage is giving up so much of yourself and potentially hating your own life and resenting your partner.
Yes, those are all risks – if you do not choose your partner right or enter marriage/that relationship with the wrong view. I’ve already promised and then broken that promise before I’m 30. So has my boyfriend.
So why in the world would we do it all again? Well, here are my NUMBER reasons for why I still believe in marriage:
1. We’ve seen it work. Both sets of our parents have the same story: married too young, grew up very quickly, divorced, and then met their real life partner. Its not the ideal path and its certainly not the only way to choose a partner, but the end result is the same: His parents have been together 35 years and mine have been married 29. Both sets of my grandparents were married for 50+ years until a spouse died We’ve both witnessed marriage that last and are happy. A happy, loving marriage can happen, so why not for me or you?
2. I’ve learned from the past. What went wrong in my first marriage does not have to (nor do I intend it to) repeat itself in any future relationships. I’ve learned from my mistakes. Each person, hopefully, takes some learning from a relationship that did not work out. This is why you date and learn to filter out what you like/don’t like about someone and use it for the next person. I learned I need a kinky sex life, flirting and attraction is much more important than I ever thought, and setting a standard for yourself is OK. I didn’t deserve someone to make me feel bad about normal parts of my body. I didn’t have to stay with someone who took me and my contributions for granted. I wanted someone who would be an equal contributor to our household – equal in terms of effort, not money.
3. I can be realistic. People are, by definition, fallible. At some point someone’s going to mess up and you’re going to argue. Misunderstandings, miscommunications, disagreements, and arguments are all a part of LIFE. The trouble with a relationship is you have to learn how to work through this and not let it break you. I’ve seen couples break up over some really stupid things. If any relationship is going to work, you have to understand the whole person: not just the good that you love, but the bad that will come with it. I have flaws, so does my BF. Every day we work around them and every day we make it.
4. It’s not about losing, it’s about gaining. Going from Ms. to Mrs. does not mean I am giving up who I am. I am bringing all of me into a relationship and I am being joined by someone bringing all of himself. He knows what I want in life. I know what he wants. We both have goals, together and separate. Marriage is about supporting one another in those goals. Yes, that may mean I have to put my goals on hold why he works on something or we work on something together. This delay would not exist if I were single, but I am gaining the opportunity to support the person I love most in the this world to do something they want – how could I not support that? And he will do the same for me. I’m gaining my own cheerleader, support system, advice-giver, listener, cook, cleaner, errand-runner, bill-payer, back-rubber, friend, and travel companion. What am I losing that compares to all that? Not much.
5. It’s easier, legally speaking. Let’s be honest: marriage makes everything (most things?) easier, legally speaking. No one questions the “husband” or “wife” when an important decision needs to be made. In case of a medical emergency, that is the person I want by my side and making decisions if I’m incapacitated. I get tax breaks for being married. Even in death its easier to divvy up belongings if you’re married and have a legal claim to it rather than “but we’ve been together for X years.” Time together does not a marriage make (common law marriage excluded of course). For those reasons alone, I want marriage — and its a major reason why gay marriage is important. It’s not always about love and romance. It’s just practical.
6. It’s two against the world. When you’re married, you have a partner, another half of a couple. Together you face whatever happens in life. That person is your source of comfort and joy. They are there to take the stress off you if they can just as you would do the same. It’s best friends with deep, emotional benefits. To put it in geek terms, you are the tank to the other’s healer. It’s about partnership and using your strengths to bolster each other and face life decisions together.
7. It’s making a public promise. There’s a reason why a lot of marriages start with a wedding: there’s something beautiful about two people publicly declaring they are going to spend their lives together. I’m not here to say whether you should write your vows to say “forever” or “until we decide otherwise.” I’ve seen both and its really up to you what you want to promise. The thing is, marriage is a contract. It has to be upheld by both parties to be valid. Both parties are saying they will do X and Y and Z and therefore will expect X and Y and Z in return. You decide what X and Y and Z includes. Vows are not one size fits all and not all vows are public. Do you have to promise to love only that person forever? Not if you’re polyamourous. Do you have to promise to fuck only your partner forever? Not if you’re a swinger. Your marriage, your rules.
8. I promise to try. Change happens. It’s not always easy and it may not be what you expect. As time progresses, so do we. We change in our relationships, in our jobs, in our preferences. As we age our priorities might change. Having a child may introduce a whole new side of you – the parent you – you didn’t know existed. This might be where marriage is kicked hardest in the nuts. We’ve all seen or heard stories of “We grew apart” or “I didn’t know him/her anymore.” It can happen. What matters is – do you try and work through it, or do you call it a good run and part ways? For some, its better if they separate. Forcing two people together for the sake of someone other than both of them is pointless. But the point of marriage is: did you promise to try? Try to work together, talk it out, experience it together, try to understand, try to improve? Not every try will be a success (sorry, Yoda), but the point will be: you made an effort. You can not anticipate what the next 5 years will do to your marriage. If something goes out of balance, whether with your interest, communication, honesty, or relationship, the changes could be devastating. You have to trust that your partner isn’t going to let that happen just as you will try to do the same. Its a road that’s walked together, but the path is rarely straight and clear of obstacles. Will you try to try and cross them?
I think that sums it up. I plan to be married again one day. Ideally, you’re best friends with the hottest sex life and only a few bumps in the road. I could go on and on about finding the right partner – but I am not you. Only you can decide what you want. Partnership in life is beautiful.
Marriage isn’t for everyone. I can’t force you to get married and you shouldn’t tell me who I can and cannot marry. Not every marriage should last forever, that’s why divorce was such a great idea. Right now, I think the statistics state that about half of marriages end in divorce. That’s a huge fail rate. However, that means that half of marriages last. Is it always happy and healthy? No – but that is the fault of both partners. I’ve experienced the failure of a marriage and I definitely had a share of the blame in that failure.
I have no intention of repeating that mistake. And this time, the relationship is completely different.