Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I was going to post this in two parts--but didn't

Part One
I've been wondering why do people still get married?  I searched the Internet and found all kinds of answers:  Children, financial or emotional security, love. Every reason given I can get outside of marriage except one--- “You’re supposed to.  Everyone does it.”   To which I have four words: lemmings to the sea.
In all that I read I had to wonder if marriage is more of an antiquated sentimentality than a useful social institution.  In history marriages were arranged by someone besides the groom or bride and didn’t involve emotions. Love was discouraged and reserved for affairs and friendships.  Marriage was for power plays, politics, and procreation.  Love really didn’t enter into it until the Renaissance when stories and art blossomed.  In the 21st century we have raised it to a whole new level.  Fairy tale weddings may have started with the Brothers Grimm but are perpetuated by American capitalism.  The wedding is as much about the wedding planner as the bride.  The groom is just an afterthought.
Many of the taboos surrounding relationships no longer exist: sex outside of marriage, child out of wedlock. Affairs are expected. Marriage isn’t a deterrent for such behaviors.  Financially, emotionally,  and socially both sexes can survive without a spouse. 
Knowing this,  I have to ask:  why do it?  And not only once, but why twice, three times, and even four?   I know we don’t want to be alone, but why not just live together?  It’s what people do anyway to make sure they can get along.  I’ve heard the argument that the marriage bond makes people more committed.  I’m not sure I believe that when almost half of marriages in America end in divorce.  
I was also searching why people get divorced.  There were many reasons why, but one stuck out.  Because we can.  When we get bored, angry, find another to love, it’s easy to say I’m leaving.   If we aren’t being fulfilled then it’s okay to seek something else. The marriage relationship is focused on the needs of the individual rather than a commitment between two people that considers all sides.
From what I’ve read and heard marriage as a social institution seems obsolete.  We don't have to use it for financial security.  We don't need more kids in the world.  It's not such a strong political leverage anymore.  People can give me all sorts of arguments, but I’m happy being single.   I can’t think of why I’d want to rock the boat on that.  I love all sorts of men.  Why should I choose just one and according to modern society I shouldn’t let a little thing like he’s married to someone else get in the way. Who cares about her and the kids as long as I get what I want?  Who cares that he’ll probably cheat on me, too?  I’ll just go on to someone else. To put it crudely, why should I pay for milk I can get free?
It isn't the 40 year old virgin we should be making fun of.  It's the crazy chick whose dad spends more on her wedding dress than he did her first car that needs to be ridiculed. 
(Collective gasp from all the soccer moms and religious folks. Don’t worry.  I’m still on the side of the angels.)
Part Two
     I believe in marriage, but not as a social institution. Society takes God out of the marriage relationship, but in its truest, purest form, you can’t because marriage is a gift from God. It’s one man and one woman, together forever.      
     I’ve struggled with this because I know people who are on their second marriages or have married people with children and exs, many of them Christians.  They seem like good people.  The older I get the fewer fish in the pond so I wonder if I should compromise in some point.  But it’s clear what God’s viewpoint is, no matter how much we try to rationalize it.  (Genesis 2: 20-25; Matthew 5:31-32; Mark 10: 1-12)  People may change, but God doesn't. 
     When I was younger I met a guy who I thought was the man for me.  We understood each other and complimented each other.   The problem?  He was married.  We didn’t pursue the relationship.  In later years he called because he and his wife divorced.  Here was my chance at my soul mate.  What stopped me?  The minute he married her he became her husband.  She was the mother of his children.  He chose her.  I would always be the other woman.   I don’t want to be his second chance to get it right. What if he thinks he messed up again? 
Yes it’s true:   I’m a hopeless romantic. I want to be the one he waited for.   I believe in fairy tale endings and Prince Charming.  I know I can have my happy ending.   
Oh, I'm not so pie-in-the-sky  to think it will be all hearts and flowers.  What we obtain too cheap we esteem too lightly. It is dearness only that gives everything its value.   Thomas Paine said that of freedom.  I think it's true of our marriage commitment. It's not about me and what I get, but about us and what we can do for each other.  The hard times make us grow and the willingness to forgive strengthens our belief in the relationship. 
And it's not just our actions in the marriage but also what we do before that shows how seriously we take it.   Am I living a life now that shows I believe in marriage?  Or am I getting my free stuff thinking I'll change once I find "the one"?
I’ve been told I’m too idealistic.  Too picky.  Too prudish.  I’m told I’m unrealistic in my expectations.  I don’t believe that. Too many people buy into that lie and lower their expectations.   They end up in bad relationships because they think bowing to peer pressure is better than being true to themselves. 
Because I believe in God, I believe all the things He said are possible.  I'm holding out for the one who's holding out for me.  I've come too far to give up now.  I’d like to be married, but I don’t need to be. If I can’t have marriage God’s way, then I'll pass on it.
Some people won't agree.  Me?   I’m good with it. 

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