June 30, 2004

Marriage

When we got married 10 years ago, no-one ever mentioned at the wedding that it might not last. We went to a few weddings around that time, and no-one ever mentioned that it might not last. But every one, I was wondering, will it? And given the national divorce rate, a surprising number of these marriages have lasted.

At the bro's wedding, which was held in a catholic church and Cducted by a priest, the possibility that this marriage might not last was commented on. It was also spoken of at the reception. It wasn't maudlin, it was an acceptance of the reality that marriages do not always last. It was good to acknowledge that.

A great, but obvious truth was expounded. Marriages last if you don't leave. It would be a shallow relationship if you lived with someone for more than six months and didn't feel like walking away at some stage. No matter how perfectly you are matched, if you are two people then at some stage you will differ over something that at least one of you Csiders important. That might make you angry, frustrated, infuriated, and you might then Csider leaving.

People I have spoken to about this always got married intending to stay together for the long haul. I don't think all of them realised how hard that would be. But the ones that are still together are together at least in part, because they have chosen to stay. Not necessarily because they wanted to at the time.

(The exception to this is abuse - I would never countenance anyone sticking round to be abused in any way.)

Posted by Toni at June 30, 2004 12:52 PM
Comments

I went to a Catholic wedding last year where the parable was rather depressing. Basically the priest said "you're love will run out. But you have to stay together and eventually you'll find another love and it will be better."

I thought that was an awful parable. I like your blog entry much much more :)

Here's to not leaving!

Posted by: Jenni at June 30, 2004 03:07 PM

I remember a long time ago talking to some people about a friend who had wedding jitters, and I wanted to go and say to the friend, 'Maybe you should reconsider,' but this was deemed bad, wrong and inappropriate on the grounds that wedding jitters are really common. When I pointed out that divorce is also common, I didn't win any friends. :)

People are in love with the myth of marriage being easy and perfect and Meant To Be, when usually it's hard and flawed and Against The Odds. (Doesn't mean it's not worth doing, though.) Y'know?

Posted by: iona at June 30, 2004 03:52 PM

Not only are people in love with the myth of marriage being easy, perfect and meant to be, our whole society plugs this myth! Think of how we indoctrinate children with 'happily ever after' and then reinforce the myth with hollywood romances and other books. We don't even finish with the beginning of the marriage, we also get shown 'perfect couples' so that we can feel inadequate in a stable long-term kind of way.

Posted by: toni at June 30, 2004 07:42 PM

I have always wondered if there was a law passed that banned wearing pretty dresses and all other covetable marriage frivolities the divorce rate would decrease markedly. That is to say that I think that many people's motivations for getting married seem to me to lie in the asthetic rather than the emotional/spiritual.

I also agree that acknowledging the fact that many marriages do not last for ever is important, in the actual act of marriage.

Having been married and divorced, and having been in more than one abusive relationship, and now having been resolutely single for the past year or so...

I am interested in what you feel you get from your LT relationship (spiritually, emotionally, physically, financially - whatever) that you feel you wouldn't have if you were a single person. Perhaps a subject for a future entry?

Posted by: suraya at July 1, 2004 01:45 AM

I suppose I think that marriage is generated on a day to day basis, rather than being generated by a declaration at the beginning.

Don't get me wrong, I think its a good idea to declare your intention of staying together forever and making it worthwhile. It also adds to the chances that you'll stick with the idea through the bad bits - after all you made such a fuss in front of so many people. Hopefully it also gets other people to support and respect the marriage, but I don't know if that actually works.

But I think marriages should be celebrated on anniversaries.

"Look! We're *still* happy! Surprised, a little exhausted maybe, but still here! Go us! Everybody come round and lets *party*!"

The other thing I find curious about marriage: if it doesn't end in divorce, it ends for one of you in the death of someone you wanted to spend the rest of your life with. This seems to me to be the definition of bittersweet.

Posted by: .carla at July 1, 2004 06:44 AM

It also means you get to celebrate the good times you have had, rather than them being vaguely invalidated by the marriage 'failing'.

Posted by: .carla at July 1, 2004 06:45 AM

Suraya: companionship, honesty, emotional support, kindness, someone who knows me and loves me even when I've been a dork, who's on my side, physical stuff, someone I can bother and count on, someone to be generous and loving to without it being awkward or inappropriate, someone to be important to. :)

Of course, you can get most of this from friends. I just like finding it all in one handy package.

Posted by: iona at July 2, 2004 10:13 AM