Marriage. A union in which two spiritual souls traveling in human form are united within “a structure of social order and cooperation that governs the behavior of said set of individuals.” Sounds sexy doesn’t it?
Marriage itself gets a very bad wrap these days, but marriage is just marriage. What gives it the bad wrap are those that enter into it without respect for the meaning of it. Or enter into it for the wrong reasons whereby leading to what would have been an eventual separation that would have occurred having said the vows or not. But somehow, mostly due to a lack of personal responsibility, Marriage is what actually gets the blame, just like money does. You hear it all of the time, money is evil, money is a burden, lots of money is good, not having a lot is bad. What most fail to understand is that both money and marriage are neutral, it is individual perception that will determine one’s relationship with either one. If one sees marriage as a ball and chain, a slow death of what was once blissful sex, or as the saboteur of love and companionship then that is in fact what they will have, because they are not going to do the work or have the attitude for it to be otherwise. Alternatively, if a couple sees marriage as the joining of souls both before God and the world, a declaration of monogamy, a beautiful celebration of oneness and both are willing to do what is necessary both for themselves as individuals, and as a couple to protect and nurture the marriage…than that is what will be.
Let me tell you first hand why marriages fail, it is either sex, money, or both. That is it. All of the things necessary for a relationship to survive and thrive such as, trust, communication, and fidelity all can be tucked neatly into both categories. Sadly, everyone knows at least 10 divorced people, so I dare you to take a poll. You will find that most divorced people, myself included, are more than happy to tell you how their ex-spouse fucked it all up so pay attention to what it is that they say. Was it lack of communication all the time? That applies to both sex and money. Lack of intimacy that led to infidelity? Sex. Trust was lost and never re-gained, or worse, was never there to begin with? Both sex and money. One spouse overspent all the time leaving the other with the financial fallout? Money. Extended family drama that is seeping into your relationship? Well, since that is lack of communication and one partner isn’t feeling valued and protected, that could adversely effect sex. Even further, if one partner is lending their extended family money with no returns, that lack of communication now breached trust and now not only effect sex, but money too. Actions always have consequences and they always run deep in a marriage. Ironically, if you keep the subjects in which you are polling talking long enough, you can trace the beginning of the end of the marriage all the way back to the very event/events that led to the demise. “He was always working late and forgetting our plans.” “She was upset all of the time because I wasn’t bringing in the same amount of money as I used to.” For added fun, see how many of those poll subjects take any responsibility for their part in the ending of their marriage. I’ll go first, I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted. As a divorced person, I can now say with absolute certainty that if one does not know what happened in their previous relationship, marriage or not, take responsibility for their part in the dissolution, and know for sure who they are, no marriage will ever work for them until they know every single one of these things.
If you stop to think hard about when marriages began to fail more often than they succeed, you can trace it back to most people looking at marriage as this thing that we enter into because it’s the next step from going steady, to get out of our parents house, or because we hit a certain age. Over the past I would say 3 decades, as a society we have demoralized, demonized, and abused marriage as a whole. Meanwhile there is an entire segment of the population just dying for the legal right to marry the person they are with. When in this society did “Saying Yes to the Dress” become more important than the vows? When did the guest list become more important than sitting and talking to your future spouse about financial goals and goals in general? When did the cake take precedence over self-examination as to whether or not you would be a good spouse to begin with? When did it become socially acceptable to argue with your fiancé, your mother, and four bridesmaids over one day instead of examining what marriage means for the rest of your life? Whenever I meet a bride who is flustered and complaining over the details and the planning, I ask her; “would you still marry him in a courthouse with a $300 wedding band?” “Or do you need the ushers, bridesmaids, and 2 caret diamond.” Only once have I heard “Oh I’d do it today in my blue jeans in front of a Justice of the Peace, I don’t need all of this.” She’s still married 13 years later. Sadly, I most often hear a small whimper whine of “it’s my day!” It’s his day too.
The wedding is one day, the marriage will effect you for your lifetime as well as that of any children that you have. The energy that it takes to destroy a marriage is the same amount of energy that it takes to build a marriage up, because that’s the key word, build. Every argument has the same opportunity to grow a marriage as it does to damage one. Every struggle holds a lesson that can be used to strengthen a union with the same energy that it takes to divide it. How a marriage unfolds is entirely up to each individual within it, and them as a couple together. How they work together, accept eachother, and establish personal moral guidelines – which should match by the way. There is no room for co-dependency in a marriage, only interdependence. There is no room for lack of communication in a marriage, only intimacy. We live in a life of dualities, of ying and yang. For every good measure there is an equal and opposite bad one. The energy for either is the same, but to build and strengthen means first having to do it for yourself, and if you’re too busy matching shoes to aisle runners, you can forget that fact.
I see more and more people deciding to respect marriage by waiting until they are their most perfect self in order to be the best partner that they can be. Marriage can never fix anything that is broken, you have to be whole first. I like to think of Marriage as the Olympics. You don’t train once you get there, you train first and then you get the reward of going to the Olympics. Once you’re there, you’re a lifetime member and like all Olympic greats do, you continue to train until your very last day. Train first, walk the aisle second. We take into consideration what society says way too much. What does society know about your life? Nothing. “A structure of social order and cooperation that governs the behavior of a said set of individuals” is different for every couple, as it should be. But the trick to knowing what the couple wants is for each individual to know what they want first. The lucky ones that stay married forever were at one time able to get most of those individual goals to match that of each others.
My past doesn’t make me a good role model for marriage, but it gives me knowledge to put forth into my future, and therefore my future will make me a great role model. I would never get married again unless I could personally guarantee that I am the best I could be at that moment and promise to continue to work to be better as a person. I’m working on it. In the meantime, I look at my parent’s and their 40+ year union together. There are days where they don’t really care to be around one another, but they are never more than one floor in the house apart. An argument is never the automatic end of the marriage and with every adversity they stand and face it together, because that’s marriage. It’s dirty, it’s uncomfortable, it’s challenging, but the reward is that it is always glorious no matter the toil. The fact that you have someone by your side that knows every good and bad thing about you but loves you anyway is always beautiful. Taking that understanding and applying it every single day in every single moment is the challenge that God gave us when he gave us the ability to live with our other half. The reward for sticking with it no matter what we face is one that some people rarely get to see because they give up too soon. With Michael, I have caught a glimpse of what that payoff looks like and I’m telling you, in the darkest moments where I doubt myself to be to Michael what he is to me, or if I don’t know if I have the strength to go on through the adversity, that vision is what keeps me going. And Goddamn it, I can’t wait.