|Blogs > UnlitMaserSaxon > The Mental Honeypot|
What's a marriage for, anyway?
What's a marriage for, anyway?
I read an interesting blog posting by startingOver102 about the perversity upon which marriage is based. He suggests that "live close, visit often" relationships might be more appropriate in that they will encourage us to stay in shape (mentally as well as physically) for each other due to the threat of your less tightly bound partner leaving if you go to seed.
The societal absurdity, in my mind, is not that we institutionalize and aggrandize the process of "going to seed". It's that we've raised expectations of what a person should expect out of life to a ridiculously self-indulgent level, and then place the additional restriction that all of those expectations must be met by a single individual ( the SO ) for upwards of 50 years.
Consider the life expectations of a typical couple 100 years ago. Find a decent job. Raise a family of responsible people. Save up to buy a home. Stay reasonably healthy.
Then compare that with expectations today: find a life-long thrilling sex partner. Buy a house early and fill it with expensive toys and conveniences. Vacation in Europe/Mexio/Asia once a year. Become rich enough by 65 to stop working and live off the proceeds of your career for another 20 years. Achieve the ideal physique of a 20-year-old and keep it until you're 60.
With all of these increased requirements of self, there is less and less time to put into our relationships as a couple or as a society. So couples work harder for less satisfaction, have less time with each other (or kids), have increased mental expectations and therefore greater degree of dissatisfaction. And then we look to our SO hoping they can provide what's missing.
I think it is these societal stresses that fracture marriages. We flagellate ourselves with unattainable (statistically) images of success and then crumble under the weight of struggling to achieve them anyway.
To me, the greatest tragedy of these pressure-crumbled marriages is that loss of a shared history. Consider all the great novels you've read or the great films you've seen. How much richer is your life because of, not the thing itself, but the appreciation for it you share with other people - a friend, your spouse, etc.? But the great story of your own life gets truncated with each divorce. You have to start the story again, with a new audience. The result, from my viewpoint, is a life lived increasingly alone - without the mutual culture of a rich history of shared stories.
So when I look at all that, it is the "forsaking all others" part of the system that I find least supportable. In a committed, long term relationship (whether you call it marriage or not is simply semantics), it is the knowledge that you are unwilling to accept the sundering of that shared history that gives one the determination to survive the hard times - what ultimately become the story-building times.
By acknowledging that my wife is my best friend, my life partner and my only appreciative audience for the story of my existence, I place her, I think, in the proper perspective. She is not expected to be my only source of sexual intrigue or satisfaction. She is not expected to be my only source of intellectual challenge. She is the only person who understands and accepts the complete history of my life. And I'm too selfish to give that up.
The fact that we also seek out other people for some of our needs provides the pressure for us to stay in shape and remain sensitive to those in our lives. In a way, this allows me to have my cake, and eat her too.
7/17/2005 10:28 am
Interesting new perspective on a marriage.|
<<By acknowledging that my wife is my best friend, my life partner and my only appreciative audience for the story of my existence, I place her, I think, in the proper perspective. She is not expected to be my only source of sexual intrigue or satisfaction. She is not expected to be my only source of intellectual challenge. She is the only person who understands and accepts the complete history of my life...>>
I like the way you expressed yourself...very interesting and unique way of thinking.
7/31/2005 7:28 am
I applaud you and your ability to reason and think for yourself and to be bold enough to come to a conclusion that the rest of society unfortunately is not yet ready to accept! I also happen to agree with you.|