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22 June 2012

m is for marriage

I have been married twice. The second was more foolish than the first. One could argue over which was more disastrous, but it's beside the point. I knew better, before both marriages. I held personal philosophies that were anti-marriage, and I got married anyway, to make other people happy. Those other people were equally worried about their own happiness. So in that way, we saw eye-to-eye.

Before the first marriage, I thought: marriage looks an awful lot like a trap. If someone loves me, shouldn't they just want to be with me? Why is legal enforcement necessary? I don't want the government involved with my relationships, and I don't want to be irrevocably tied to one person, anyway.

When I got married to husband #1, it was with the understanding that I was sacrificing my personal happiness, for his. I was ok with that. He was far more traditionally-minded than I was, and he needed that reassurance provided by marriage.

Later, I would say that H1 was worth it, until he stepped off the deep end. We did love each other; I was satisfied with my sacrifice. I was happy enough. Then mental illness took over his life, and he became a danger to our child. I didn't leave because I stopped loving him. I left to protect our child. Much later, when the mental illness subsided and he became a different person - a person who didn't bother much with his child, who lumped that child in with his "old life" and didn't look back - that's when I stopped loving him.

Before the second marriage, I thought: well, I didn't really think much. I had my own mental illness to deal with, and at the time, it was managing me. Politically, I was against marriage as a government institution. But H2 spoke the words my depression needed to hear, and I didn't listen to reason.

Looking back, I can see what happened, but I was blind at the time. H2 was a fool, and I was foolish for believing in him.

Nobody ever asked if H1 and I were ever going to get married. Nobody asked that of H2 and I, either. Those relationships were too short - pre-marriage - for the question to be raised. And maybe people were hoping I would see the light, sooner than I did.

These days, that question seems to be coming from all sides. Archer and I have been together over a year, and it's probably obvious to people who see us that our relationship is stable, healthy, and happy. (Yes, that is a first for me, thanks for asking.)

This past spring, I met Archer's parents, siblings, and extended family. When we got back, a dear friend of mine saw that as a signal that he and I were destined to marry. "It's been a year?! And you Met The Family?! It's done!" She was so happy for me, until Archer burst her bubble, saying, "I would never demote {Bones} to a mere wife - she's far too important to me." (Or something like that... hopefully he'll correct me if I've misquoted him here.) That friend is a little confused now, but still ever-optimistic for an eventual marriage of Bones and Archer.

She's well-meaning, and a wonderful friend - and if I ever were to require someone to set up something traditional, she would be my best resource - but being committed without intending to marry is a tough concept for her to wrap around.

It seems that we - our western culture, perhaps specifically Americans - have come to equate marriage with commitment, as though the two concepts were nearly synonymous. A relationship can't really be committed if it's not headed toward marriage; being married means being committed. Buuuuuut.... You're only committed until you get divorced. And then you're free to commit again.

Serial monogamy is ok with us, just ask H2. I found out after we married, that I was his 7th or 8th wife. He married one of the earlier wives twice, which explains the confusion over the numbers. But he was committed to each and every one of them, for at least a week or two.

I would like to separate those two concepts. I am completely, irrevocably committed to my relationship with Archer. I don't need documentation, signed by a judge, to tell me that Archer is equally committed to our relationship. That judge is less qualified to make that call than either Archer or I. I see it in Archer's actions, and in his behavior, and in his words. The judge has to rely on the words of the couple coming to them.

At the end of the day, if an official document is all that's holding your marriage together, then what you have isn't a marriage, it's a contract.

In my opinion, contractual marriage - legal marriage - is the antithesis of romance, and I am a romantic at heart. Every day, I chose to 'marry' Archer all over again. Every day, he does the same. It's a process that is both more romantic and more truthful than attempting to rope him into a legal contract.

From a spiritual perspective, ...well is there any other way to look at marriage? Any other way that acknowledges the spiritual focus that marriage should have, I mean. Turning marriage into a legal contract imbues marriage with whorishness: you're entering a contract by which you are bound to each other, not necessarily in spirit or in love, but by finance. 'I'll stay committed to you, and we'll pay for it if we want to end our commitment.' If not by alimony, at least by the cost of the divorce itself. There's the difference between a cheap whore, and spendy call girl.

~

Yep, I realize that's offensive to all those happily married people out there. And I say this: good for you! If you found a philosophical way around my musings, I'm happy for you. Really, I am.

No really.

Whatever path we find to happiness, is good.

Your path isn't mine. I'm happy for you, but I can't say I understand it. At least not in a way that's complimentary. And because I'd like to believe the best of people, I'm going to assume that I simply don't understand - not that understanding isn't possible.

~

For those who wonder about the benefits that accompany legal marriage, I say this: there are other ways. There are legal documents which have the same results; if you're going to spend the money on a wedding, you might as well spend it on a lawyer who can hook you up. And that way, you get to customize your benefits, instead of swallowing the state-sponsored bundle. Win!

9 comments:

  1. Interesting blog post, and in a way yes, offensive to those of us happily married (mostly the idea that being a wife is "demonting" to us) but I don't mind! Though I do wonder if it's the word "marriage" as society applies it that you have issues with. For instance, I was wondering if you have the same issues with the idea of a handfasting.

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  2. Actually, you're right. It IS the way we (mis)use the word "marriage" in our society which bothers me. I have zero issues with handfasting, or any form of spiritual marriage. My problem is in the the managerial role our government takes in what should be (at its best) a spiritual bond between two or more human beings, AND in our complicity in that governmental meddling.

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  3. Anonymous14:57

    Booya Bones.

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  4. Anonymous15:03

    What if a joining ceremony were not. By this I mean, remove the commercial and political aspects. Marriages have joined what was not together before, they have "created" unions for purposes of consolidating lands, power, fealties, arms and men (people) under fewer and fewer hands. Marriages did, in earlier times, and still now, in traditional cultures, as well as elite circles of money and influence, what corporate mergers do in their realms.

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  5. Anonymous#2 - Exactly. (If I'm understanding you correctly) Take the political and financial benefits away from "marriage" as it is practiced in this country (and most others, I believe), and you are left with... a spiritual union, which I fully endorse.

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  6. Anonymous15:26

    So, given that relationships, in "modern" times, in western cultures, hmmm, are created and founded and solidified before marriage, a marriage is now an acknowledgement of a pre-existing bond. We choose each other not to join kingdoms or old European banking families, but to pair bond. The marriage is a party to celebrate something that should be well solid before that party and party dress are lit up and played across the dance floor. As many discover, the party, and it's archaic contract do little to strengthen the bond between the people. The day after, they are still the same couple of bags of strengths and weaknesses they were the day before $20k went bye bye on flowers and booze.

    A marriage should be like a birthday party, kind of a marker, an acknowledgement of ground already covered, and based on that, great hope for the future. A marriage does not create a bond between people, it functions solely as a bond between interests. The people gotta bond themselves. The form was never really created based on the love relationship interests of the two, for years it was about states, lands, families, armies and the consolidation of all that in fewer and fewer hands. When corporations became people, this sort of thing became less important in the marriage vehicle. Then it became a popular fetish/scam that propped up the church, florists and DeBeers. People got love confused up into it, with lots of help from preachers, advertising and mommies spreading misogynist bullshit to their daughters for generation after generation. Remember, in the original form, the men had the banks, lands, arms and slaves, the woman's value was in her ability to incubate and deliver the next king, that's pretty much it. Hence the remnant folly that a woman is not a woman until she marries and gives birth. You gotta get a man honey. But why? You ain't nothin without a huuuzzbind! But..why? Hmm, can't remember...but it's an essential truth dammit girl! Yeah. Well. What does a relationship really need to be its best self?

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  7. I decided a long time ago that I'm never getting married, because I have pretty much the same views on it that you stated (although, I'm not a romantic at heart). Most of my family and friends are under the impression that I'll change my mind when I meet the "right person" and get even more confused when I tell them I don't believe in the idea of a "right person" either.

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