Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Disjointed Views of Marriage

A long time ago, Prata made the following comment:

Marriage...the lemming race. *chuckles*

Seriously though, I've never viewed marriage as a necessity. Not that I wouldn't get married if I found someone that I wanted to be with that felt it was a necessary part of their ideal relationship outcome; however, I think I'd have to question why it was a necessity to them in the first place.

I believe you're mostly correct there Leesa. People get married to share things that are possibly very personal (good or bad) with someone that can identify and has a stake in these things. But, does marriage make you any more likely to have a stake in what happens to the significant other than say, a serious boyfriend/girlfriend? If someone commits to you, is marriage necessary to say that they have a stake in something?

I know you're not trying to make that point, I'm just asking your view I suppose. Does marriage outweigh a committed individual's actual stake in or commitment to a relationship?

Prata made the comments in March of 2006 and I wanted to answer them. I saved his comment, probably because it touched on something I wanted to write about at the time. I remember I was thinking a lot about my marriage.

In the same area I saved this message, I saved a fragment of a note I wrote a fellow blogger. Some of you may remember Muse. She started and blew up three or four blogs in a few years. Her penname, Muse, is quite common in the blogging world, and I don't think it has anything to do with the English rock band. It probably has more to do with the nine muses in Greek mythology1:

  • Calliope (the 'beautiful of speech'): chief of the muses and muse of epic or heroic poetry
    Clio (the 'glorious one'): muse of history
  • Erato (the 'amorous one'): muse of love or erotic poetry, lyrics, and marriage songs
  • Euterpe (the 'well-pleasing'): muse of music] and lyric poetry
  • Melpomene (the 'chanting one'): muse of tragedy
  • Polyhymnia or Polymnia (the '[singer] of many hymns'): muse of sacred song, oratory, lyric, singing and rhetoric
  • Terpsichore (the '[one who] delights in dance'): muse of choral song and dance
  • Thalia (the 'blossoming one'): muse of comedy and bucolic poetry
  • Urania (the 'celestial one'): muse of astronomy
Anyway, here is part of the letter I wrote Musey:

When you wrote, "Nothing is worse then a woman who stops talking, because it means she's given up. Feigned complacency is all I have left. My fight is gone, I've let it go. My peace is restored without the aid of you. My life, my rules. Volunteer, not victim. My life is what I make it......Muse" I was truly touched.

And then when Melanie wrote the next few paragraphs, that is what I felt when reading what you wrote, though I would not have expressed it so eloquently.

I am fighting the same fight you are; trying to save my marriage. I am Catholic, and for better or worse, I really want things to work out with me and hubbie. And I have expressed on more than one occasion how I want things to work out between you and yours. Sometimes I feel like hubbie is not trying – but because of hormones or circumstances or whatever, things tend to change. So most of the time, hubbie is working with me on our marriage.

Muse, I don't know if this is the case for you and your love. Maybe he is more blasé with the whole thing. That's what it seems like to me. I have known women who settle – because of kids or things or reputation or whatever. If that were the case with me, I would not settle, and I actually don't believe my Church would want me to settle as well. If each partner is not "mutually supportive," then a Catholic marriage does not exist. I know, this part doesn't matter for you – just thinking out loud.

Recently I have had really depressing thoughts. But hubbie always picks me up, sometimes a little late, but always picks me up. I am not sure you have that. And when I want more than hubbie can give, he tries to give. He tries.

Musey, only you know what is best for you. It seems, however, that you are spent. Not sure you would make a good decision right now. You need rejuvenation to make sure your outlook is clear, so you can see what choices there are, let alone choosing the right one for you and your children. For me, it involved therapy and medication. For you, it might involve something else. While similar in ways, we are all different.

I have no answers – just want to give you some support, Musey!

Again, this was written in early 2006. Hubbie and I struggled through 2006, and things eventually got better. I lost touch with my friend Muse. Writing was cathartic for Muse, and I hope that she has peace in her life; that's why she drifted out of my life. I really hope that is the case.

I sometimes imagine her playing with her dog. Can't remember exactly what it looks like, but it doesn't matter. To run with a dog, throwing objects and letting the dog retrieve them. Dogs live to please people; that's part of their joy.

Whether you wear loose fitting clothing and dance with Apollo or run barefoot in the sand with a pet, sometimes getting away from the daily grind is what is called for. I don't know where this post is going.

Sometimes marriage is a lot like a post with no real point. You are just doing things that come natural, spending time with one another, trying to figure out why the heck you are living with the guy who snores and clips his toenails in bed. And part of you loves the fact that when you wake up in the morning and automatically make two eggs, you have someone to share breakfast with. When I was first married, I thought marriage was easy. I am not that naïve anymore. It just sometimes pisses me off when people look like marriage is easy.

Oh, and Prata chucked because I made a connection with people getting married and lemmings following each other off a cliff. Maybe this whole post could have been summed up in that piece of imagery.

1Taken from Wikipedia. It may not be right, but it is fairly immaterial to the posting.


Prata said...

Wow..I remember that! It's amazing I remember anything anymore. ^_^

I still hold the same view...I suppose that's good right? Maybe not, maybe it means I'm closed minded. Who knows.

I like your post, not just because it has my name in it; although that helped immensely (not really), but because I have experience (well observational experience) with someone who has given up on their marriage.

I've gotten the phone calls and listened to basically the same thing that Muse wrote. It's kind of depressing to listen to someone that has no hope or desire left to try when they are repeated kicked down. It sucks and when you love that person (as in my case) you just want so badly to do something for them and you just can' can only listen and show compassion. Most of the time that's all that's needed. They just want someone to care about them rather than the other way around, but as a man although it's probably more of least for me thing, I feel inept that I can't physically do anything about it for that person. I can't make everything better with a wave of my hand, and that makes me feel helpless.

It has been my opinion the ease of any committed relationship is relative to each person. Everyone has a threshold, and for some that threshold is very high. They make it look easy. For others, it is low and the marriage may appear more rocky even though neither couple (high or low) has any less or more love than the other.

Anonymous said...

I think people have not lost the idea of marriage, they have lost the idea of commitment. Marriages only work with commitment. What makes marriage different than living together is simply commitment. There is a penalty in a sense for breaking that. If you aren't married you can still suffer the heartache, but the back door is always open if you are just living together. Marriage closes those doors. You HAVE to deal with things.

The institute of marriage has not changed, peoples opinions have changed. The issue is with people, not the institution.

Rough patches in marriage are inevitable. I'm glad we have had only a few. I'm glad you guys worked through things.


SSC said...

Marriage is a job however people are more interested after getting engaged on what dress, caterer, color the wedding is going to be instead of realizing this is a marriage not a debutant ball. I hear stories that muse talks about all the time from women. I also hear stories about how people want to throw the towel in and leave.

What I have gathered is that compromise is a big ticket item. And when you compromise there are no winners or losers. You both get what you want at a price for the other. Most of my friends who have been married 5 years have either separated, divorced or have come damn near close of leaving hubby/wifey!!!!
You hear all these stories, then I ask why did you marry him/her? What drew you to her/him?
Spouse -“I loved him?”
Me -Okay, well you can’t live on love alone.
Spouse -“Yes you can.”
Me -Really, okay can you come to the store with me?
Spouse – “Sure”
Me – ( at check stand and the checker was scanning a pack of gum)
Cashier – That will be 25 cents please.
Me – “ I love you!”
Cashier and Spouse – ( Looking puzzled )
Cashier – Okay that will still be 25 cents.
Me – But I love you
Cashier – Repeats herself.
Me – I give her the money.

I told my friend, what does love mean to you and why do you love this person. What are other attributes about this person. You didn’t love this person when you met them, what drew you near to him/her. Not sure what the lesson was that I was trying to convey however it bothers me when people say I love him. Well I love my dog, abused people loved their abuser. There has to be more!!!!!!!!!!!

This is why I never married. I could handle the commitment more from my children then from a man. Then I met Joe and trust me it’s been a huge learning experience. It wasn’t just about me and my needs. It was about making him happy but balancing it out so I wasn’t turning into a chameleon. Joe had patience, love and was very kind to me. We have had our ups and downs just like any relationship.

I was never for marriage at all until I started dating Joe. I realized that when you love someone you want to do all you can for this person as long as it’s reciprocated. That was a hard word I learned in this relationship and I still have to be reminded of it along with compromise. I love Joe with all my heart. Normally I would be content being his fiancé and not moving forward. However marriage signifies to me a much deeper commitment that you really can’t get from just a regular relationship. It means you are in it for the long haul, you want to be life partners you want to make it work. Yes things are going to be hard, but it’s you and him against the world.

Again, sorry Leesa I went off on a tangent again!!!!

Prata said...

The major issue though (and I'm addressing edge here) is that marriage is not a necessity to commitment. It never has been. Before marriage was there less commitment? No, of course not. After marriage is there more or less commitment? Not really. Marriage is not some next step, it is simply the expected step. Expected by society, that doesn't make it makes it merely acceptable.

Everyone has a very weird idea that marriage locks anyone into anything. No...that's completely false. Marriage is..and always has been at least in the West a social tradition. It's not anything more than that.

If person A wants to leave person B, they are going to leave. Do you know what people do that do not want to leave because of the "deeper commitment" (please read this as money) they have in a marriage? That's right, they cheat. They cheat and keep things in the house at some sort of equilibrium so that they (in the case of a man and sometimes women who make much more money than their spouse) don't have to give up half or more of their stuff. In particular, the entire reason marriage is at all some "deeper commitment" is only because the law tends to not be very kind under certain circumstances and you end up losing a good portion of your accumulated wealth.

Divorce is usually dirty, and your embarrassing or simply very private life gets put on public display. That is another thing that keeps married couples together rather than going through the entire debacle of divorce once a person has decided they no longer wish to be in a relationship with a person.

The only difference between a married couple and a committed relationship is the laws in effect (which have nothing to do with commitment beyond monetary means) and the couple's actual commitment.

If one makes the argument that marriage is a deeper commitment, it lends itself to the notion; as another said, that there is no easy escape. what of people in a committed relationship that stick together longer than most married couples. They must be more committed then...correct?

Either way, marriage is a custom..and not a necessity to display any sort of commitment to a relationship.

Anonymous said...

Prata--you are my hero! I ditto everything said. I've been in a commited relationship for 2+ years. No marriage in my future. It's unnecessary. You are right, if either of us are gonna leave, a piece of paper and the memory of a ceremony won't hold us together.

Good post. Very thought provoking.

Leesa said...

prata: very inciteful.
I like the idea of thresholds.

jef: commitment has changed. So have choices, really. And opportunities for infidelity. Since the landscape has changed, perhaps, the idea most have concerning marriage has changed as well.

ssc: are you talking about Joe the blogger? Friday Pictures, Joe?

prata: I agree if you are talking about legal marriages. Marriages in the Catholic Church, however, are next steps. It is a commitment to someone in front of God. I know you don't believe in organized religion, but for some, this is a next step. Not all Church marriages, but some of them. And what you said, for the most part, is probably true for most marriages. You know, I don't like agreeing with you, Prata. I really don't.

flat coke: I know some in committed relationships who are extremely happy (and have been so for years).

SSC said...

Yes, Joe the blogger.

Prata said...

I love you too Leesa. ^_^ Yes, in that platonic I'd be sad if you went missing way...not the..."how might I get you into bed way." You're not my type =-P

If you're ever available though we could work that out...*runs from the possible thrown dishes and things* hehe

LarryLilly said...

I have been married two times. The first time was in 1970, typical 20 year old reasons plus Vietnam war angst that forced most people our ages to grow up with a large sword hanging over their heads; the Draft!

Then i married again ten years ago this june after the first marriage lasted some 28 years. Different reasons, but same reward, someone that makes me better. Someone that fills in the blanks. Silly as it seems, there is a line from the first Rocky movie where he says that people have "gaps". From the movie: "She got gaps. I got gaps together we fill the gaps."

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