Monday, August 25, 2008


Judging by the reaction that I got the first time that this one went around, I've decided to repost and expand an entry from a previous blog.

Tinkering around one fine day in June, I found a good piece on the net while working -- a very good study about how men are unlikely to marry for fear of an unhappy marriage. Unfortunately, Yahoo took the article down, so I can't reference it here. DAMN YOU, YAHOO NEWS!
This gave me a chance to review some of my own feelings on the subject. Marriage is an odd issue with me. I don't think that everyone needs to run out and get married. If my husband had said to me, "I don't want to get married," would I have been upset? Probably -- I'm the kind of girl that wanted to get married, but if he was that opposed to it, I wouldn't be willing to throw out the love of my life over a piece of paper. I probably would have wanted some sort of ring because I like the symbolism behind it -- an unbroken circle, given in trust and love. The band is more important than the rock. It's the assurance that he's not going anywhere, which is far more than what some women get, even in mere words. I would have been much more upset if my husband had nixed the idea of kids. That's a deal-breaker for me, as that was something I wasn't ready or willing to give up. I've made that call before -- not easy, but necessary. We would have been unhappy in the long run, and I wasn't about to force someone else to change to meet my dream. That's not love or partnership otherwise; it's manipulation, and you can't claim to build a life with someone if you're willing to deceive him along the way.
Okay, so, back to the point. This article raised some good points for me. In the age of divorce -- often nasty, manipulative, and frequent divorce -- I can see where a man would rather be single than have someone wreck his world for years on end. While I wouldn't do it, some women don't think twice about using kids to get back at their ex-husbands; it's slimy, but it happens. The women that use their kids as pawns wreck it for the rest of us trying to do the best we can, whether we be married, single, divorced or widowed. Likewise, there's the financial aspect of it: divorces can cost a lot of money, and some people would rather stay together than face financial ruin. With the cost of living continually rising, two paychecks are often needed, and if you don't have a roommate in sight, living on your own could be impossible. This creates another set of complications, which I feel can be far worse: staying with someone who makes you miserable. It's a rational fear, and with some aftershocks of the generations who refused to divorce their way out of bitter unhappiness, it's with absolute pity that I nod quietly and give these men a free pass.

That being said, there are other factors that are debatable. Some men don't get married because they don't want kids. While I love my children, kids are definitely not right for everyone. It's a matter of choice and knowing your limits. You like playing with them and handing them back, but you don't want to be up at 4:30 in the morning? Great -- thanks for being upfront! Believe it or not, you can like children and not want your own if you recognize that you're not ready to shoulder the responsibility of being a grown-up all the time to someone who is totally dependent. If you're confident enough to say no, I can respect that and admire you for your candor and honesty. I don't think that the childless-by-choice are evil. However, it's also not a valid reason to rule out marriage. Not every woman wants kids; a piece of paper won't magically change that. A woman's ticking biological clock has nothing to do with a wedding band, though the two tend to be associated together heavily due to societal expectations. Marriage may have been started as a way to ensure legitimacy of property succession, but it's not its sole purpose anymore. People marry for love now, and people also have babies out of wedlock all the time. You don't need to have a baby unless if you want to. This is why you talk about this long before marriage, and if it comes up again, you keep talking about it. If you don't talk, things go horribly wrong. Your marriage won't suddenly turn to shit in a matter of two weeks -- it's a gradual process that involves two people.
Likewise, women don't get to be petty, controlling and nagging overnight -- on some level, whether you want to admit it or not, you know this about her long before you marry her. Whether or not you choose to accept this is your responsibility. Does my husband annoy me to pieces sometimes? Yes, but I don't believe for a second that I don't drive him up the wall. You take the person as a whole, not with the idea of "he/she will change due to my love and hard work." That's self-delusional bullshit. People change because they want to, not because someone wills it. Yet there is still the hope for some that their man (or woman) will have a breakthrough and realize how much they need to improve themselves to be "good enough" for their spouse. That's dangerous, though.

How is that dangerous? Setting the bar high can only lead to further failure. This leads to depression, which leads to regression. There's striving to better yourself, and then there's trying to outdo a martyr. Once again, that's not love. Those that do this want a person that doesn't exist, or at the very least, someone very different from whom they married. You shouldn't fall in love with someone's potential -- fall in love with smiles, gestures, good times, bad times, the promise of growing old together. Will this person drive you nuts? YES, but this person loves you the same way: wholly and willing to grow. Don't set an impossible goal and expect the person you pick to conform to it. That's not fair.
There is one issue that I feel I'm still on the fence: those who don't get married for political reasons. I'm all for societal rebellion: I married a Deist who hates authority; my kids aren't baptized (nor will they be as children); I'd dye chunks of my hair blue if I could get away with it at work. Society does need to get the stick out of its ass (at the very least, switch to a fun sex toy). Some elements need to go, like this dedicated hatred of gay marriage and oppression towards women. In this respect, I can commend the mentality, but at the same time, it seems to undermine your cause. If you don't want to oppress women, then give your wife the right to choose whether or not she can govern her reproductive organs, and don't force her into a life she doesn't want, whether it be working or staying at home. Likewise, not getting married if the gay couple next door can't seems to place a stamp on marriage that says it's not necessary, but if it's not necessary, what are you fighting for? You have just proven that you don't need a license to be happy and have the same benefits, but those are the two important rights that these couples want. It's not about the piece of paper, it's about being given the choice to decide whether or not someone could legally be tied to you, benefits and all. It's being treated like an equal human being. Me, I choose to be married and use that as my platform: I can do this, why can't Mike and Tom over there do it as well? Why exclude them when I am no different? If I choose to have a baby and be a wife, can't I be happy to have a choice? I can see why someone would protest that way, but it strikes me as not being fully thought through. Let's face it, if you're doing something to be a nonconformist, you're just conforming to something else. It's not original. And no one wants to be a poser.