Today's Special

Marriage Means Nothing to Me

I’ve been in some relatively lengthy relationships and one traditional marriage and have been in a common-law setup for the past 20 years or so. Although the soft spot in my heart for each of my partners, past and present, remains, I am not a cheerleader of living with a lover. “Familiarity breeds contempt.” Also blame and accusations, misunderstandings, hurt, anger, frustration, carelessness, and complacency.

I don’t believe in Happily Ever After — never did, never dreamed of meeting a charming prince or being a white-gowned princess for a day — and it seems to me that people, especially young women, expect that the sweetness in a romance before marriage or cohabitation is going to remain. They are never, ever prepared for what the reality will be. How can they be? It’s a shock to us all when we begin to see the unloving sides of those we love and who we believe love us, and when we begin to feel less than loving, ourselves.

And so I don’t get excited when I see a shiny new diamond ring on a woman’s finger. I’m glad she’s happy, but what I’m keeping to myself is “Ewww; it’s not all it’s cracked up to be, y’know.”

Usually my cynicism is successfully hidden when speaking to a newly engaged woman or a bride still in the glow of the big party day and the honeymoon status. But I slipped lately when texting with my niece who just got hitched for the first time. I don’t remember how my attitude was displayed, but she picked up on it right away.

I hate pretending to be Pollyanna when my real feeling is a kind of sympathy because I have some idea what they’re probably in for in the long run. It’s like not telling a pregnant woman that childbirth is the worst pain they may ever suffer; you don’t, because you don’t want to scare them, but … wouldn’t they be better off if they knew what was coming and didn’t have unrealistic expectations of a “beautiful” delivery?

I may not have said “Good luck, you’ll need it,” but this is how it came across, when it’s not luck she’ll need, but superhuman communicative strategies and some kind of rare karma and something else we humans have trouble maintaining … some kind of penchant for unconditional love, perhaps, and tolerance, and a forgiving nature. That’s if she isn’t damaged by deep disappointment and loneliness at times throughout the length of her marriage. Is it being negative to admit that deep disappointment and loneliness at times are part of life, that this is the human condition and being married doesn’t magically take any of that away?

Perhaps marriage will fulfil all the hopes she has for it, for herself and her new husband. Perhaps it will if she isn’t expecting to live happily ever after. If she knows that change and anger are inevitable, as are a lot of painful emotions and situations that one cannot always process through to a better place of, at least, intimacy and peace. She probably does know this — she’s a smart cookie — and maybe it’s just one of those things we all know but don’t say out loud when someone is excited about getting engaged or married.

Scott and I, whenever someone asks when we’re getting hitched (as someone occasionally does), inevitably reply “What for?” I can’t even keep a straight face when once in a blue moon, usually after we’ve fielded one of these queries, to tease him I’ll say I’m waiting for the “big ring” and a grand-gestured, bended-knee proposal; we both have a good giggle at that idea. Or I’ll say I intend to ask him to marry me and he’d better be prepared not to break my heart by replying in the negative. We have some of our best shared laughs over these imagined scenarios. They strike us as absurd when picturing ourselves as the main actors in them.

We’ve both been married in the legal way once before; he in his early twenties in a large traditional wedding with a lineup of bridesmaids and groomsmen and all that hoopla, and me in my early thirties in front of a justice of the peace while I wore a new dress, with only my parents in attendance and a pretty wedding cake Mom and her friend made as a surprise, to help make it a “special day,” Mom said. Neither event was a guarantee of happily ever after, just as no marriage of any kind is. So I’m not sure just what the celebration is all about. I know what it’s supposed to be about: committing to each others’ care and happiness for a lifetime. Being there for each other through thick and thin. Loving and respecting. Intimacy. Faithfulness.

But no piece of paper can guarantee these things; no public vow in front of friends and family can reinforce our best intentions as the years wear on and we find ourselves irritated by the way our spouse chews. So why do we assume that marrying or living with our best lover is a logical next step, the inevitable desired outcome of romance?

***

box openbox closed

Open and shut case?

I was asked, when discussing marriage, what I’d do if I was with someone to whom getting married was important, even when to me it isn’t. 

It does seem as if at least some of the time, one partner goes ahead with it out of fear of losing the other if they don’t, or because they think it will make the other happy, it’s what the other wants or needs. 

I would have to understand what it is my partner expected out of the state of marriage. What do they think it would change? Why do they think it would be better? How much do they need it? Is it the only way they can be satisfied? What is the point of it, in their mind?

And then, finally, is it something I can live with? And if the ceremony and the piece of paper don’t matter to me, but seem essential to my loved one, then why not?

Fortunately I’m not in that position. 

***

5 thoughts on “Marriage Means Nothing to Me

  1. You’re a gal after my own heart! I was married 26 years and they were some of the most miserable years of my life. I was just so glad when he buggered off with the garden tool he met at the local bar – he can beat her up from now on (he did). It does kinda make me sad though that now when I see a wedding my only thought is “oh you poor sod” and I don’t like being that cynical. I know a few happy marriages, to be fair, but I know so many more that are just “traps” so I will definitely never be going that route ever again!

    Like

  2. You had something to say to us today. 😎

    We all have our own paths and experiences. Daughter is divorced. I wonder if what she saw in our marriage caused her to expect more than what she got from hers.

    Like

  3. I was married for 22 years. The first 2 were good and then it went downhill. Katie was the reason I stayed and she was part of the reason our marriage fell apart. My husband told me, after she was born, that he only ever wanted two kids. And then he was upset because I changed after she was born. I wasn’t fun. He really was a dick and an alcoholic. I was also a disappointment to him. I had a good friend die at the age of 55 and I realized that if I only had six more years left in my life, like she had, I didn’t want to spend it with someone who thought of me as a disappointment.

    I think relationships are only meant to last for so long. We change, we grow and sometimes we need a new partner for the next part of our life, or no partner at all. I take care of others so I found another man to take care of and then complain because he doesn’t do more. A part of me would like to live alone but I also think I would find people to take care of. It’s a sickness:)

    Like

Speak to me, dahlink.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s