Let’s get serious about people and weddings. This conversation is going on over at The Naked Soul & Buddha Warrior. I was going to comment on those blogs; but , sorry guys, my comments got very long and personal so I decided to express them here being I haven’t written anything thoughtful here in a while.
I think that people seriously do not know what they are getting into when they get married; and for some, even after failed marriages, still do not fully grasp what marriage is all about. I think that most people assume it’s the “next step”, “the thing to do.” Certainly this is proliferated by all those aunties out there asking, “When are you going to get married? You have such a pretty face!”
First and foremost, marriage should be taken seriously, not just a means to an end, such as financial security or the means to get out of the parental home. Society tends to regard the institutions of Marriage and Family as disposable and not important enough to support. It’s no secret that our (American) society is not family friendly, not really. Oh, yes, they target and exploit families to make money, but many actual businesses are not family friendly at all when dealing with their employees... which is a subject for another time.
Society accepts divorce just as readily as it accepts McDonald’s as being a healthy choice of food, oblivious as to exactly how that food is procured, prepared and marketed. Well, I speak for the time before “Super Size Me” and “Fast Food Nation”. Sadly, even now, after the facts were revealed, millions of people flock to fast food establishments. Similarly, people are flocking to the divorce courts, without even attempting to heal their marriages. Then a lot of them rush right back into the marriage bed with someone different only to begin the nasty cycle again.
I believe having old fashioned values is the best way to go. There is something to be said for abstaining from sex before marriage, extending courtesies to our partners, and plain old respect. I do not agree with the idea that people should test each other out to see if they are sexually compatible. If the love is there, you should have no problem. Though undeniably important in a marriage, sex should not be the priority. If approached from this viewpoint, it can prove to be immensely helpful later on if something happens that should prevent the couple from having sex either on the long term or permanently. People get sick, impotency, etc. Stuff happens. Imagine how a man would feel if/when he becomes impotent, thinking that it’s important to his partner? But if going into the marriage the emphasis is on more important things like honesty, trust and respect, he will be a little more at ease knowing that his wife loves him no matter what. I know it’s not all there is to that because I am sure that he will need reassurance from his wife… but it will be easier for him to believe her. Aside from all that, marital s-e-x is not all fantasy and even if it is, how long could that be sustained? Sure, we need to always be attentive to our partner’s needs, but every couple does settle into their own cradle of bliss and it’s different for everyone.
Too many times I see couples breaking up over petty issues, really non-issues. Women expect too much from their men and visa versa, taking our partners for granted, etc. The woman fully expects the man to provide the means for everything they do together. The man expects the woman to be available for him whenever the mood strikes him that he wants to see her. At the other extreme, the man will expect the woman to pay her way, even if he was the one to request and plan the date. The woman makes a scene if the man holds the door open for her. I’ll admit that these were my own stereotypes, so my examples were kind of over the top… but were they?
Maybe it’s sour grapes, but I have no patience for high maintenance women and the men who perpetuate that mentality. Let’s face it, they are raised to expect and accept only the best that a man can offer and more. Possibly, it’s the mothers who ingrain this into their darling little girls thinking they are teaching self worth. Somehow the experiment goes terribly wrong. Then there is the man whose identity is wrapped up in how well he can please his woman with material things, side stepping his involvement in an honest relationship. Maybe he gravitates to material things because he was either taught that; or he doesn’t believe that he is enough, alone, to make a woman happy. The clue here is that nobody can make anyone else happy, nor should they be made to shoulder that burden. These people never seem to be truly happy beyond the glitter off the surface. As a woman, I can tell you that even I, growing up in a not-quite-poor, not-quite-rich household, was impressed with this mentality. I was brought up believing the man must give give give and pay pay pay to prove himself worthy of my attention. This was preached by both parents. I could never quite rectify this in my mind because I always believed that any relationship should be an equal enterprise.
The big picture seems to escape so many people. They do not look beyond the sex they get before marriage, the easy social life, the absence of everyday responsibilities that can put an inconvenient damper on selfishness in later married days, especially when there are little ones running around. The me me me days are forever over. Now, it’s us. I find that a hard thing for some couples to manage is the concept of “what is yours is mine and what is mine is yours”. That goes for money, chores, space, time, anything and everything that they must now SHARE with one another. For some, this is a hard thing to get comfortable with doing. Maybe it’s harder for people who have been single for a long time and place priority on their personal freedom. What is also a big issue sometimes is that now you must account to the other person. It’s not really a rule, but a consideration for our loved one’s feelings. I have personal experience with these issues. DH was single for all of his 50 years before me and did not have to account to anyone in those years. He still struggles with the “ours” concept; he’s more comfortable with the “yours, mine” thing… but we work with it. I tell him that I am not saying he “can’t” go anywhere; but that I need to know what he is doing if he is not coming home. This might seem restrictive to you, but it’s because he does not carry a cell phone and I do have a “need” to know when he is coming home so that I don’t worry about him. In the beginning, he just didn’t get it. Probably partially due to the fact that he, himself, did not place any restrictions on me.
Notice that I’ve not said a lot about “love”. Well, that is because it is assumed that you love the person, silly. But more than that, there is so much more that comes into play equally. A lot of people get divorced because “they do not love the person anymore, or just like they did when they met.” Oh how I hate to hear this. People, love is not stagnant. Love evolves, love changes with every day, every minute you love. People just don’t see this and assume that love is gone when it’s still right there, just showing you more of it’s many facets. Think about the loss. Possibilities for love thrown out the window; so sad it’s heart wrenching. I believe the soul suffers, too. Something happens to the soul that is hard to heal, if ever for some people. When damage like this can be done, you would think that one would really think before assuming this kind of commitment. Commitment. That is something people really do not realize the depth of.
I would be remiss if I did not include that God is present in our marriage. I believe we have a “Sacramental Marriage”. I wrote on this a while ago. If you are interested, it’s here. We believe that our marriage, and the fruit it bears, in it’s own way, is a part of God’s plan for the world.
Wow, when you look at it like that, it goes beyond being special just for us.