Friday, October 27, 2006

What does marriage mean to you?

This is going to give the wrong impression, but I admit that, throughout my life, I've been more interested in being a father than a husband. Maybe that's because I could have a meaningful, long-term relationship without marriage, whereas you're either father (foster- or otherwise) or you're not.

Anyway, that does not mean that marriage is meaningless. Sure, I've got concerns about divorce and alimony (which I'm very much against), but the institution has come to mean more to me in the past several years. To be more precise, I've come closer to realizing just how much it means to me.

Symbolism.
For me, marriage represents an achievement, of sorts - being lucky enough to have found that special someone with whom you had natural chemistry, with whom you were able to build a strong, solid practical partnership, and with whom you've developed a very rare and powerful level of mutual trust and understanding. Having achieved all of this and having a great deal of faith in it and in one's significant other can inspire some people to want to make great, sweeping gestures - the kinds of gestures and statements that proclaim, to the world, "THIS IS MY BABY!"


By respecting marriage as an institution, it becomes a part of a social contract, as well. I mean, there are all these legalities tied up in it (which are worthy of attention) but really, when one respects marriage on a certain level, finding someone special... then finding out she's married, means that, despite whatever has physically or mentally drawn one to her, she is off-limits. Period.

Obviously, not everyone feels that way, just as not everyone treats marriage seriously, entering into it only after having crafted a strong, mature, loving relationship.

Cart and Horse.
Some think marriage will make the relationship, when it's the relationship that makes the marriage.


That's a big deal. Anyone who doesn't get the above shouldn't get married... not to me, anyway. Marrying someone so that she'll stop dressing slutty or so that he'll go get a job or stop cheating or start cooking or give head... Well, that's putting the cart before the horse.

For some people, a lot of people, there's a religious aspect to marriage that comes before all others. I'm not one of those people.

Emotional Punctuation & the Bond of Conception.
I want a strong relationship, punctuated by a ceremony and public commitment, before I conceive a child with someone. While, intellectually, I don't think one should need a marriage proposal or acceptance to believe that one's partner is serious, on an emotional level, it provides a certain confirmation of the level of commitment that exists between two people. I'd prefer that I and my partner achieve that level of commitment before we decide to raise a child, together.


Of course, this, by no means, guarantees that the two of you will stay together, there's also no guarantee that wearing a seatbelt will save you, if you're in a car accident. But really, it'll probably help more than it'll hurt.

When I look back over my life, there are a number of ex'es with whom I'm soooo glad I never conceived a child. That's a lifetime bond between two people. It'd really, really help if they respected or could stand to be in the same room with each other.

Fast-food.
So yeah, I'm 32-years-old and unmarried, but that's not because I have no faith in the institution and it's not because I'm convinced that monogamy is an unnatural state of long-term being (although, sometimes, I've wondered). In fact, just the opposite is true. It means so much to me that I don't want to treat it like the fast-food relationships I saw in high school, where people would do it just to say they did it.


No, thanks.

Alpha & Omega.
Marriage has its place and, to be honest, so does divorce. I don't think one should be too eager to enter or too afraid of either one.


If and when the time comes for either, do what you've gotta do. We don't do ourselves, our partners, or our children any favors by staying in a decaying relationship or force-feeding an immature one.


So, what does marriage meant to YOU?

8 comments:

chele said...

Nothing.

Just kidding.

Back in the day I was more interested in being a mother than being a wife. Of course, when I dropped that little bomb on my mom she nearly had a coronary.

Marriage is serious business and I'm saddened that nowadays it's not given the respect it deserves.

One of my sister's co-workers is contemplating marrying a man that she doesn't love. Why? (1) He loves her and proclaims that he has enough love for the both of them; (2) He's paid (3) He has a job that forces him to travel 6-8 months out of the year. When my sister reminded the girl that she'd have to have sex with this guy, she rolled her eyes and let out a deep sigh and said sadly, "I know."

What the heck is that?

West said...

re: "What the heck is that?"

"Sad."

I've gotta tell you, this reminds me of something I'm truly scared of: "Grateful Love."

Don't marry or "love" me out of gratitude because I treat you well or have something you like or ANYthing other than... you truly love me, want me as your partner, and are pained by the idea of not spending the rest of your life with me (the real me). Anything else does us both a disservice.

Scary.

I'll say this for your sister's co-worker, though, at least she seems to have been honest about her feelings (for him to say he's got enough love for both of them). If he enters into that type of union, then he's got issues, as well. To be blunt, maybe they deserve each other.

*shivers*

(Gotta love the idea of a woman rolling her eyes at the thought of having to have sex with me. *sigh*)

Shai said...

West, I have to say when I was in my early 20's I wanted to be married and have a family.

Now as I get closer to 40, I am not ready for marriage. I have a 16 year-old daughter and I am looking forward to her graduating and me having some freedom.

Marriage right now means to me WORK. It takes a whole lot of effort and you have responsibilities. I need ME time.

Plus, I have unresolved issues regarding men and society's view of marriage and women. Yeah, I am honest and hey many have jumped on the chance to comment on my shortcomings. That is fine. I am honest about myself and that is what counts.

I would not mind companionship right now. I just don't want to be married right now. I surprised myself when I was honest to realize do I really want marriage. I definitely know I don't want kids.

Luke Cage said...

LOL@Chele's story. That was a doozy of an ending right there damn! West my brother, what I want to write, I'd have to devote a whole blog to it, and I won't do that to you here.

However, I will say that it's been a cakewalk for me. Now, that may be messed up for me to say because it'll sound like I'm gloating, but I wasn't too worried about marriage. I knew that I would never marry the 'wrong' person. I was more worried about becoming a father. That was scary knowing that a little someone is going to be pretty dependent upon you for years to come. That's scary.

Marriage, after 9 years, has been as ez as anything that I've ever done in this life. Marriage means alot and the institution still holds massive weight to me. It's sad what its become, but hey.. what can you do? Just live your life and look at others who are suffering and be happy and feel fortunate, that that's not you going through that. Lata man!

Anonymous said...

I honestly think that marriage is not "normal". Marriage and the idea of it is merely a historical "suggestion" to two people who love and care for each other. Marriage is something that is "suggested" to people in love with each other. But who said, or made a law, that says when two people love each other they should get married? Would two people who love each other get married anyway, on their own, if the suggestion was never made to them (by whoever or whatever)? Probably not. But if someone made the suggestion to them that they should be married, they'd probably then begin to contemplate that maybe they should be married.

I myself would like to be married but only because I fulfill my partner's emotional, spiritual, and sexual needs, and he fulfills mine.

(BTW: I have a good discussion going on on my blog. I would be honored to have you join and leave a comment/honest opinion)

shai said...

Luke I wonder if your wife could say the same. I have seen marriages where the men have no problems but their wives do. LOL.

Anonymous said...

Some think marriage will make the relationship, when it's the relationship that makes the marriage.

That statement is soo important. You can't think that you or that ceremony is going to change someone.

It's important to know the other person, and don't assume anything. Talk about everything. Thoughts on children, morals, how to handle money, all things important.

you truly love me, want me as your partner, and are pained by the idea of not spending the rest of your life with me (the real me). Anything else does us both a disservice.

Another statement that is essential when thinking about marriage.

For a single 32 year old guy...you have put serious thought in to it, more than many people much older than you. Great post!

West said...

Thanks, RoU! :-)