Marriage: Part 1

Dear Steve,

Speaking of love, don’t you think it’s about time to speak about the obsolete nature of marriage as we know it today in this new millenium for the able-bodied and the deep pocketed? On the cognitive dissonnant nature of mixing a life-long sacred oath w/ the legal powers of the state? On the fact that marriage falls into the category “it sounded good at the time?” On role-playing? I love Cybill Shepard’s quote: I loved having a husband, it was being a wife that I couldn’t stand? On how well rounded individuals are rarely found in this dinasaur institution? On how the myth of a charming prince with his shining armor on his white horse died w/ the death of Princess Diana? On how, in this boomer generation of ours, it will not be uncommon for a few of us to live to be a hundred and fifteen years (plus or minus?) On how some of us who may find love post-fifty–could end up caretaking the eventual bed-ridden if one did not invest in caring for one’s longevity?
maybe, until whenever,

First, let me say that you probably shouldn’t get married.

Personally, I’ve never been married, so I can only say what it looks like from the outside. I think the biggest problem with marriage is also one of the biggest problems with America – *personal empowerment* and *high self-esteem*. The current definition of an empowered person with healthy self-esteem is someone who clearly states his expectations, creates firm boundaries, and expresses his feelings regularly. Basically, a demanding, rigid, pain in the ass. I don’t think most people’s self-esteem should be high. If you’re Ghandi or Martin Luther King, then okay. But if you’re like me, and you spend your days just dealing with your life and not trying to save the world, then your self-esteem should be pretty average and not particularly high. Here’s the connection to marriage – how do two “healthy” people, who are constantly asserting their expectations, boundaries, and feelings, ever get anything done? Who bends? More often than not, one person becomes the bender and the other becomes the bendee.

Truly successful marriages are about as common as Afghan restaurants in New Mexico. They require constant negotiation. Today, if you’re married and have kids (or even pets), it’s like the Mideast peace talks just to get some free time for yourself. I’d find the constant bartering a little mind-numbing… “I’ll cover you while you play poker, if you’ll cover me, while I get a massage.” Then, you’re not hanging out with your partner as much because he’s babysitting for you while you’re doing the stuff you enjoy (and vice-versa). You stop doing the stuff you enjoy together, you do it separately, and you grow apart.

Also, I think therapists have completely screwed things up by convincing us that, in order to be completely healthy, we need to express all our hurts, and all our needs, and all our disappointments, and all our expectations. I think America has gone communication crazy. (I’d really like to marry someone who doesn’t speak any English.)

Tolstoy wrote that if the goal of marriage is personal happiness, that marriage can never succeed. If the goal is to create a family, that marriage can never fail. It’s ridiculous and wrong for one person to be responsible for another person’s happiness, and if you expect that of your partner, your marriage will fail. Conversely, if your goal is to create a family, then your personal goals and the goals of the family will be the same.

Perhaps, I’ve been somewhat negative about marriage. Here’s what I think is good about marriage: having someone bring you ginger ale with crushed ice when you’re sick and have a fever, having someone who listens to you because they want to (not becaue they’re being polite), having someone who’s ready to give a really terrific speech to the Divine Court stating why you should be allowed into Heaven.


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