Monday, March 26, 2007

The “I don’t care about your marriage” post.

And the license said you had to stick around until I was dead
But if you're tired of looking at my face, I guess I already am” - Divorce Song, Liz Phair

How many hideously trite conversations about marriage should I have to endure in one day?

Conversation observed in my office’s lunch room:

Balding middle-aged guy: “You know Bob and Shelia have been together for 70 years!”

To which the rest of the room replied with their random “Oh’s and Ah’s, and Wow’s”.

I could feel the chunks rising in my throat as I tried to keep my lunch down. Readers, it was hard. Stare at the same person for 70 years? Why, I’d rather gouge my eyes out with a pairing-knife.

What is it about our culture that celebrates this monotony, this willingness to submit ourselves to routine till death do we part? How can this be fun or even remotely enjoyable? It’s not that I have a problem with individual marriages per se, as I am sure Bob and Shelia are just tickled pink with one another. Good for them. However, I would argue that marriage, as an institution/societal structure, is PURE BULLSHIT.

The truth is men need marriage more than women.

There, I said it.

Now, I’m not commenting on previous generations, during which men and women managed to tolerate each other for a whole slew of fucked up reasons (for women: lack of economic, political, social power, for men: cheap unpaid domestic labor, women as status symbols ect..oh, and to avoid the stigma of divorce) Even though this still occurs, women can own property, vote, get paid a decent wage, get an education, and have domain over their bodies through reproductive freedom. The tables have turned, at least in the US and Western Europe. So, what is it about marriage that’s appealing today now that it’s not being used as a tool for survival (in most cases)?

Well, there are still those damn societal expectations. We are to A) Get Married, B) Have Children, and C) Die Quickly and Efficiently as to not trouble others (i.e. the state or relatives). Along the way we are to acquire as many possessions as possible while using as many resources as possible. Yes, Americans, Shop, Have Babies, and please, Don’t Ask Too Many Questions. In that order.

Marriage, as an institution, is supposedly a rite of passage we are told (especially women) that we should be more than eager to partake in. It’s sold to us just like all the other trash out there. The Las Vegas quickie, the 6 month mistake, and yes, even the 70 year snore- fest, all have their place in our consumer-driven society. The marriage business is big business, diamonds, the dresses, the food, the party, all add up. Yes, there are those who elope reducing the time, money, and energy spent, but still, there is a lot of money being exchanged for a fairy tale. From the white dress to the obnoxiously large cake, it’s all gravy baby.

Then, there’s the whole issue of what to do once you are married. Do you sit in silence and stare absent-mindedly at the same person for the rest of your natural life? I think my generation is particularly lost on this issue. Marriage, as a structure, may provide support in the context of childrearing, but other than that, why bother? I understand the practical elements of insurance, retirement planning ect… but for a girl like me, with my own insurance, my own retirement accounts, financial acumen and the skills to make a decent living for myself, what is the point?

For me, marriage as an institution was irrelevant from day one. I never wanted to put my well-being (financial, or otherwise) in the mercy of another’s hand. It seems foolish and most of all, boring.

Although Bob and Shelia, I’m sure, have enjoyed their 70 years together, it’s not to say everyone else would. I’d probably suffocate slowly, dying just a little each day as my independence was stripped from me, moment by moment.

Dramatic? Maybe. But all the same, I think I’ll pass.


Sage said...

I equate the celebration of lengthy marriages to the celebration of getting a roof with a 50-year warranty. People are obsessed with forever. We want to make a decision once, and get it out of the way forever so we never have to think about that decision again.

If you picked someone you could tolerate forever, it means you never had to think about love again.

But at what cost?

sallysunshine_26 said...

Hi Sage, and thanks for stopping by.

People ARE obessed with forever, good point. Maybe it's a mortality issue, or a "who will wipe the drool from my mouth when I'm old" issue. Who knows.

Even if one solemly swears to stand by someone during sickness and in health till death do they part, it doesn't mean it's guaranteed. There's still the annoying fact of our impending death that no relationship, forever or otherwise, can protect us from.

And true, one would never have to think about love again after they've found forever. How sad.

Maybe I'm an idealistic dreamer, but the idea that love could be just around the corner without actually finding it is sort of fun.

Anonymous said...

Both, thanks. :-)

Anonymous said...

Ok, I think marriage is mostly for the raising of kids. Kids seem to do better when their parents stay together. (barring those parents that are so toxic or abusive in their hatred of each other) Some people actually like the comfort and security of a long lasting marriage. You don't have to keep adjusting to new people all the time, you KNOW your sex life and what it will be, so you have more time to focus your energy on career, raising kids or what have you. Does that make sense? Being on the prowl is fun and all that, but it does take a tremendous amount of energy and some people prefer spending that energy elsewhere so they look for and try to establish a long term relationship based on mutual liking, love and trust ( and hopefully some decent sex!)

I am undoubtedly a huge horn dog but I LOVE being married and having my kids. My husband is my best friend, an excellent lover and a great person to be with. We don't have to deal with the prowl or the AIDS question or which sex is better; protected or un. But that's me. I am one of those that really likes being married to my husband. Your mileage may vary as they say! :::::grinning::::

SallySunshine said...

Hi there Anon,

Thanks for stopping by. I like the point you make about throwing away time & energy into lack luster relationships- I seem to do a lot of that. And yes, on a practical level it's more efficient to be with just one person- married or not. I'm one that usually has 5-6 relationships going on at once, sooo... I don't sleep. ;)

~ Sally S.

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