Hi there readership people. I have found a time to write a (yet again!) late-night post. Dan has gone to bed early, because he has a Uni trip tomorrow (to the zoo! Lucky bugger) which means I’ve seen him today for a total of about 2 and a half hours. I won’t see him properly again until tomorrow night, because I work evenings.
But that’s okay. I’ll miss him of course, I’ll miss talking about our days together and relaxing together and I’ll miss just being around him, but it’s okay because he is doing something he enjoys and I am somewhat, too. But it’s also okay because I know we’ll have the rest of the week to spend as much time together as we like.
Today, the British Gas man kept referring to Dan as my husband. I didn’t correct him because I couldn’t be bothered causing awkwardness, and because I didn’t want it to sound like I’m revolted by the thought of ever being in a marriage – I’m not. Yet the thought of having “a husband” makes me feel kind of old. This has nothing to do with actually being married, but what people perceive marriage to be.
The way I see it, people either marry too young or they marry the wrong person. Or else they marry what they see to be a safe, comfortable option. They marry into what they know, and so they believe that they are already set up for a successful marriage even before their partner proposes. I also see many couples who marry because they “love each other,” because they have children, or because it’s the next or right thing to do. I know very few couples who work so well together and yet have never and will never marry, due to whatever reason.
And yet, the percentage of divorce in westernized countries prevails. No-one is conducting a study on long-term relationship couples who stay together for twenty or thirty years – all studies on the “success of couples” seems to be on marriage and divorce rates. Divorce needn’t be a taboo subject – a couple who split after 5 years is not seen as such a bad thing, compared to a married couple who split after 5 years – and things get even more complicated when you get a house and have children together.
I think the reason divorce is seen as such a bad thing is because it highlights your worst mistake. It shows you that you were wrong, once, and not only do you need to admit you made a mistake, but you have to pay highly for it too. Divorce shows people that you couldn’t make a marriage work, that you (or your partner) failed to see the relationship through to the end.
But who are we as a society, to push the archaic notion of a marriage onto new couples and couples with children out of wedlock only to scorn at their poor life-choices when it doesn’t work out? Relationships are meant to be private and no-one elses business.
But marriage and divorce are different. When you announce you are going to be married, a pressure surely sits on the couple to do well, that you have bought the product now, after trawling the shelves day after day, after picking up the wrong product and realizing it wasn’t for you, you actually buy into something you love – and there is now no room for a refund. There is now no option for buyer’s remorse. Marriage is the signature at the end of your well-thought-out letter and divorce is the flame, burning it all away.
It baffles me that two people, who have no prior knowledge of how they will be once they live with each other, how they will cope when things get bad or what they would do if the other got sick would just go down the alter and sign a registry and “be married”. I think it is equally baffling that such an old tradition – inherently rooted in religion – expects a couple to marry before doing anything that is concrete – cohabiting, having children, intercourse for godsake. How can anyone look at a person and claim they must marry them before they even know how good they are in bed?
This sounds shallow, I know. But part of why relationships fail is either that there is a break in communication or there was never a connection there to begin with – and communication also includes sexual compatibility. This communication comes from lots of different things – talking, touching, feeling, having the same values, the same sense of humour and in some part, something in common.
By “something in common” I don’t mean you like the same music as your significant other (although it helps!). Dan and I were discussing this very thing the other day – when you’re young, say in your late teens or early twenties, finding something in common with someone such as music tastes, same hobbies, like the same kind of sitcom, are all things that you believe are the roots to your relationship.
However, as you get older, you start to look for things that go beyond these simple, materialistic interests. You start to look for things that, at the time, don’t seem to play a part on what first attracts you to your partner, but are actually firmly planted in the back of your mind nevertheless. I’m talking about values, how you treat people, how you deal with problems, how you achieve your goals, if you have goals. I’m talking about how you sort out the big stuff – like moving an entire house complete with kids (or in my case, 5 crazy animals), like sorting out financial difficulties, liking carrying the weight for a while while the other person gets their shit together (because we all lose our shit at some point). Relationships are about making the other person the best they can be, and accepting that you aren’t perfect either. Sometimes in a relationship you might feel like you aren’t doing enough, but it’s okay because your partner should push you to do better, be better. To be a better person, a better friend, a better partner, a better employee, a better fighter.
Relationships aren’t easy. But anyone can tell you that. They aren’t easy because the shit stuff isn’t who shouts the loudest in an argument or who walks away first. It isn’t about throwing tantrums to get your way, or treating your partner like crap just because you had a bad day.
Yet, I would also say that relationships aren’t hard. It is the effort and work you must put in that is hard, but it’s worth it.
You can’t tell me a marriage fixes all that. You can’t tell me a marriage makes things better for couples who argue a lot. You can’t tell me a marriage is better because neither of you have much money right now, or because somehow, you think marriage will make you richer (shared bank accounts and all that).
Marriage does not change a relationship – just like putting a lock on a door doesn’t change the door – it merely secures what is already there. A marriage will not make two people who are not right for each other, automatically right for each other. A marriage does not change the fact that in the eyes of God, you are good because you didn’t have sex first.
I also see those people who are so super-duper-head-over-heels-in-love that they just cannot fucking contain it and so they channel all this crazy my-heart-will-explode-if-I-don’t-kiss-you-right-now schmuck into a marriage certificate and pretty matching wedding rings. Aw. Vomit.
No, what these crazy kids should be doing is taking all that emotion and channeling it into the relationship – I love you, so I will help you to overcome your demons and help you become a stronger, better person – not I love you, so I will make you attach yourself to me forever until death.
I actually think some people get married because they get bored. Like the next step they should take before or after having children or securing a mortgage, like they were handed a guide book when they hit 18 and are following it to the letter. Find partner, marry partner, live with partner, have children, ignore partner for children, children grow up and move out, find partner attractive again or divorce, oh but wait we’ve both changed somewhat in the 20 years since we married and now we are no longer compatible. Divorce anyway.
It’s old and dull and a little out-dated. Why do people want to get married?
I know I sound like a cynic, but I go from wanting to get married and liking the idea of being married to Dan to not being that bothered, actually. I love the idea of being in this relationship for a very long time – as long as I can make possible – and being married or not wouldn’t change that.
Marriage though – for a start, the actual wedding would be hypocritical for me if we were to do anything in a church, by the Bible or anything including those robotic fucking vows. Registry office and a big party. That would be nice.
I also hate the fact that the bride never gets to say anything on her wedding day. The best man says something, the father of the bride says something, even the groom says something. But the bride? No, she has to sit in her virginal tight white dress silent like a lamb and like the good housewife she’ll probably be expected to fit into. A traditional wedding is no different to a bunch of men smoking cigars, drinking whiskey and having a conversation about why a man wants to marry a daughter. A daughter. Not a woman.
I’m not a feminist, but…yes, you know what I’m going to say. I’m not a feminist but marriage is far too ingrained into archaic values – men passing the woman around like some prize sow at a farmers market. Look here at her shiny udders, she gleans a gallon or more of milk a day! Look at those bright eyes, those clean hooves, her shiny, well-conditioned coat. Her litters are always healthy and she produces four or more a time! And she’s always good to go – always in season, never complains.
And so on until the cows come home.
I’m not against marriage, only what it seems to stand for. In my eyes, I already have what I want, need and love from my partner. I don’t need a certificate or ring to tell me otherwise. We’ve been through a lot, and that’s how I know our relationship works, because we work at it, yet we laugh and we rejoice and we frolic in the sun when the days are hot like two frolicking frogs out for a moonlit croak.
I don’t really believe in the words “successful relationship” – because how exactly, do you measure success? No, I believe our relationship works for many reasons, one of them being we can solve problems really well together.
For example, we both hate washing up, the mess was driving me mad and I was driving him mad by having a whinge about it. We argued sometimes about housework and the dishes like any normal couple. We’d both try and get out of washing up somehow. We needed to come to an agreement, a compromise.
So we bought a dishwasher.
For those who are getting married or already are married that’s fine too. For instance my new friends, Kim and Lee (if you’re reading this) marriage is perfect for you two and I know you’ll both be really happy together 🙂 plus you already live together so you’ve got that whole toilet-awkwardness down to a t. 😉