Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Mawwiage, Mawwiage, Mawwiage.

Name that movie!

Anyway, I've read a lot of articles lately about really old couples who got married really young, and are celebrating their 70th/80th what not anniversaries. I also have a tendency to read the comments on articles. Don't ever read the comments on articles unless you can tolerate a mild amount of profanity, and a large amount of stupidity. I teach high school, so I'm good. The main thing I see people complaining about is how people don't go into mawwiage taking it seriously (Sorry, I couldn't pass it up.).

Why are people complaining about this as a comment on an MSN article? You know what would be more effective? Going out and working on that marriage you're so worried about. I think it's really beautiful that these couples have these great success stories, but I also think it's really sad that we consider these things so rare that they are news worthy. The stories definitely give me the warm fuzzies, and they are great next to the "Congress is trying to screw us"...no wait "The GOP is trying to screw us" stories. Trust me, I'll read about successful marriages all day long rather than read that junk.

Ok, so I am not married, but the statistics on marriage in the United States are staggering, and terrifying, and enough to make any single man or woman want to join a monastery or convent rather than risk it. I'm not repeating them here, because everyone probably knows the stats. Anyone know the stats on getting married the second time? Even worse. Gah, we're supposed to get better at things the second time around people! Anyway, I've recently read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, and while that makes me far from an expert on love, marriage, and divorce, his book really did give me some perspective, and also a little bit of hope. I wish Mr. Chapman didn't need to make money, so that everyone could have a free copy of this book to read or listen to on tape, because it taught me a lot about people.

Marriages shouldn't just end. Unlike Elle Woods' decision to go to law school (which was perfectly reasonable), people shouldn't just wake up one morning and decide to quit marriage. Now I expect I just made a lot of divorced people really unhappy. "I didn't decide one morning and quit my marriage. I suffered for a long time, being very unhappy." I hear you. Of course, you tried to make it work. I'm not saying people who divorce are bad people. I'm just saying maybe we're looking at marriage wrong in the first place.

Most people love, love. I mean really what's not to love about it? Butterfly kisses, long walks in the park, cute messages left on your kitchen counter, and the perfect hug that is not too short nor too long (No, that is not a euphemism people!). Some people don't make it to the annoying part of love, before they tie the knot. Fortunately for me, I get annoyed easily. I get more annoyed with how pathetically disgusting I am, than I do with him. I wait for him to call. I clear my schedule for him. I don't even have to do that stuff for him. I just do. Guess what? He probably doesn't notice it. Then I get all huffy if I forgo a trip with the girls to stay home and wait for him to call, and he has no idea why I am unhappy with him.

I expect that many people do this when they get married. They sacrifice for the other person so much that they resent the other person for making them make the sacrifice. What if your spouse has no idea what you are sacrificing? If we consider it a chore, why do it? All it does is build resentment. How would you like it if you knew the only reason why your spouse always folded the laundry is because they thought they always had to? If you're going to fold the laundry, do it out of love, not obligation. If neither of you like folding the laundry enough to do it out of love, do it together. Misery loves company!

Another reason I see people get divorced for is, "I don't know him/her anymore!" Well let me tell you this, unless my husband turns into a murderous, megalomaniac, who emotionally abuses me, I am pretty certain (I won't go to 100%. I've learned to not make promises you can't 100% guarantee.) I won't divorce him. If your ex was emotionally or physically abusive, I am not talking about you. You divorced for totally the right reason. That person did not deserve you. However if you find out a year later that he/she's more immature than you wanted, and/or is prone to making quick decisions that may or may not be wise, he/she is worth getting to know again. Perhaps when you got married he wasn't comfortable enough to show you that side of him? Maybe she was trying to be perfect for you, because she cared about you so much?

I know that I put my boyfriend up on a pedestal early in our relationship. That meant that when he proved me wrong, I was initially disappointed. However him not being an a pedestal has enabled me to be more myself and allowed me to allow myself to be imperfect. He is not perfect, and neither am I. We do/will fight...actually, I fight with myself, and later talk to him about it. He will spend lots of time confused, and I spend lots of time confused. If he had kept up pretense with me though, I would have left him on the pedestal, and I would have kept trying to be perfect. We may have decided to get married, and I believe it would have been hard to keep up a marriage once we let our facades go. Now we get a chance to know each other for real. We get the chance to see if we can live with each other's imperfections, before we even think about vowing to love and honor someone all the days of our lives (We're not by the way, for anyone who actually knows us.).

The point is, I've seen couples work through differences and problems much bigger than personality differences and simple dissatisfaction. I'm sure not a one of them would tell you that it is easy. It requires work. I read somewhere that it is important to not be dependent or independent in a relationship. Rather it requires you to be interdependent. That means you equally rely on each other, rather than one partner depending solely on the other for support. I've also heard it takes giving 110% without expecting equal in return.

People don't enter marriage today thinking like that. They think that they have met the one person who is going to make them happy the rest of their lives. If I ever get married, I'm going to try to keep in mind that whoever the poor fellow is, he is human. He will make mistakes, he will get on my nerves, and he will fail me. I will make mistakes, I will get on his nerves, and I will fail him. I've found that's a good way to look at a lot of my relationships in life. I know these are only hypotheses, and I could be wrong about being able to sustain a marriage. If it does work though, I hope that there are other people my age out there who think like this. I hope we can change the statistics. Otherwise, I feel that there will come a time when no one gets married...that marriage will become just an antiquated ritual.