My daughter, 8, asked me (via written message on a whiteboard, complete with yes/no check boxes) if I am going to marry a specific someone one day. Which she followed up with a note asking me to not be mad at her asking, she was just curious. (No worries, dear reader, I told her in no uncertain terms she can ask me anything any time and I will answer to the best of my ability…and I will not be upset over the asking of questions.) This got me thinking, as the topic of marriage usually does.
For the record – I told my daughter I would not be marrying this person, and that I also highly doubt I will ever get married again. However, we never know what lies in the future, and marriage isn’t necessary for a good relationship.
I have been married. It was not what one could, by any stretch of imagination, call “happy”. Or even “pleasant”. Hell, even “tolerable”, for that matter. Before that, I had this idea of what marriage should be, how each party should and should not act. My ideas are still in place, speaking of. They are pretty simple, really: don’t hit each other (unless it’s a consensual enjoyable thing), don’t cheat, be communicative, be open and honest. I mean, that’s pretty simple, right??? Well……apparently not. But I digress.
Marriage is a mostly emotionless curious topic for me. I feel neither positive nor negative about it in general. I just don’t understand it, therefore I have an almost alien-like view of it. I look at marriage the way I imagine an alien would look at our near-worship of money: with curiousity but no real understanding why such a thing would exist.
I don’t, in any way, personally understand how anyone ever makes a marriage work. I get, I understand intellectually that it is a joining comprised of love, friendship, sexual compatibility, understanding, compassion, compromise, working together, determination, and just plain WANT to be together and being willing to do what it takes to make it work. But I don’t “get it” in any personal way.
I’ve seen couples who, for all outward appearances, looked incredibly happy, but you find out soon enough that was just a facade they put on for other people. Then I’ve seen couples who, for all outward appearances, looked incredibly happy..and actually ARE. They stick it out, through thick and thin, easy and difficult. They’re the ones you see holding hands in their 60s and 70s, smiling at each other in ways that make their eyes light up after all these years.
And I just don’t get it.
Perhaps because I’ve yet to find anyone as willing as I to put in the work and time to make something work. Well, I should say I’ve yet to find anyone I was attracted to and interested in who reciprocated those feelings willing to put in that hard work and time. So it is all a mystery to me.
How does this work? How? I find myself wanting to examine the minutiae of their lives to find the a HA! moment that locks all the pieces together in my head for understanding. I want to quiz them on their lives together and apart. I want to KNOW what makes them work so damn well, while knowing nothing they could tell or show me will give me that a HA! moment. I already know what it takes; I lack someone of equal mind and purpose and determination.
That does not mean I am forlornly searching the Cosmos, hoping to find my One True Love..First of all, that shit doesn’t exist. Second, there is no point searching for something so fleeting and unlikely. It will either find you, or it won’t. Searching for such, to me, is tantamount to trying to brute-force it in to being. It either is or it is not. And even if you find a true and real OH SHIT THIS IS IT love, that does not, by any means, indicate its longevity. I can tell you that from deep personal experience.
People often forget love is NOT all you need. Lennon was fucking dead-ass wrong! There is so much more to keeping any relationship together than love. LOVE. the whispering haughty ghost of I WISH and I WANT that so many chase.. It is more addictive than the strongest of drugs, the highest of highs, the chillest of chills. It is the epitome of our lives to experience, hold on to, grow, foster, MAKE! love. To gently caress the fabric of our time in this space with the naughty whispering promises of love..! and its accoutrements. It is the very building block from whence most stories began, and the sad finale with which most end on a somber sobbing note. Wars have been fought over love. Wars have been ended over love. People have been born and died due to love. Poems have been written, songs have been sung, incredible feats have been performed, terrible atrocities have been committed, all in the name of love.
But what is it, WHAT is it that makes a person step over any fears or doubts in to the accepting solicitude of trust and yearning and compassion and understanding and compromise and determination to actually make love work? I really do not know. For me, stepping in to that boundary without boundaries was never difficult, if I truly cared. No matter how fucking terrified I am, if I truly love that person, I will give them the knives and bare my neck, eyes closed, hoping I wasn’t wrong. Again. Thus far, I have been wrong every time. And that is okay. It has removed many of the emotions I had toward certain things (like the idea of marriage), but I have refused to let it make me an entirely jaded cynical asshole. Now, towards those people, I am…but overall towards love and marriage and blah blah, I am not. I feel a completely clinical detachment from that shit. I see it, I am happy for people I care about when they find it/have it, but that is as far as my emotions go towards the institution of marriage.
“Marriage is a great institution, but I’m not ready for an institution.”
– Mae West
I don’t see the necessity of marriage. I see it as an option to people who want to show each other they have that extra level of commitment. That I bet all my shit I will love you forever and we WILL, not just can, work anything out level of commitment. But let’s be realistic; it is NOT needed. It is a want that fulfills our ideas of what we should expect out of a stereotypical staircase relationship model. It is what our current society says YOU MUST ACHIEVE THIS TO BE SUCCESSFUL AND HAPPY!!1!!!one!!!one1!!
First of all, if you feel you HAVE to be married to be happy, you’re in a shitty relationship. Now, if marriage is something YOU YOURSELF have decided is necessary for you, and your partner agrees, awesome! You have the start of a good one ahead of you, I think. Granted, society also tells us we have to have kids and normal jobs and a house and land and a pet and drive a luxury car and..etc to be happy. I will tell you a secret…..
IT IS ALL BULLSHIT!
Yup; you read it here. All that nonsense I HAVE TO.. I NEED TO.. IT’LL MAKE ME HAPPY.. No. Just no.
YOU need to decide YOURSELF what makes YOU happy. Fuck all the societal norms! Fuck what your parents say! Fuck what your coworkers say! Fuck what that little voice in your head says that keeps telling you “but if I don’t follow plan a,b, c, I’ll never be happy! No. Maybe a spouse plus a girlfriend or boyfriend will make you happy. Maybe a puppy and charity work will make you happy. Maybe having 25 boyfriends or girlfriends and never settling down with a single one will make you happy. Maybe getting married, buying a house with a picket fence, having 2.5 kids (I don’t ant to know which half you choose to keep…) and a dog will make you happy. I DO NOT KNOW. What I DO know, is that YOU have to find happiness within yourself ALONE before you can really find and share happiness with others. You need to, as early as possible in your life, become glad of your own company. To be completely okay with being alone. You need to understand alone =/= lonely. You need to love you, appreciate your company, love your company, LOVE YOU.
And quit searching for that mythical unicorn, man. Love will find you, ready or not. It will slap you upside the head and slowly caress down your cheek whispering… “Here I am..ready or not.” It will fucking destroy you and build you back up better than you were. But don’t chase it. And don’t expect the relationship to last just because you have love. That’s not how people work.
BUT give it your all. Go in to it giving everything, or walk the fuck away. You can’t half-ass real love. You can’t tremulously tiptoe around the fires of love and expect the flame to grow and one day you’ll be okay with it. No. Dive in head motherfucking first. Stand on the edge of that cliff, stretch your arms out fucking wide, and JUMP. Yeah, maybe that someone won’t catch you, but maybe they will. You never know until you jump.