Done properly, marriage is the most underrated institution on the planet.
Of course, it’s done properly about 0% of the time (rounded up) so that’s sort of a meaningless statement. Getting married, in the words of a good friend, “is like playing Russian roulette with a 100 chamber gun when 99 of the chambers are loaded.” Given divorce rates and the number of marriages held together solely for practical purposes, the odds are really that dismal. It’s no wonder so many men turn their tails at the first sign of commitment. The real wonder is why people continue getting married. Why do some young girls still dream of getting married? Why do gay people fight tooth and nail for a such dying institution?
I mean when was the last time you even saw a healthy couple– let alone a healthy marriage– portrayed in film? Modern Family is a train wreck of a family and they portray the average American household. The Office… okay Pam and Jim might seem better, but their relationship started with Pam being unfaithful to her previous fiance and since when does that ever end well? Even the Disney princesses don’t have the “happily ever after” that they insist on. Ariel’s man fell for her before she could speak. Must be a true and deep love indeed.
And yet, I stand by my statement. Marriage is the most underrated thing on the planet.
We keep getting married, we keep fighting for marriage, dreaming of it, against all odds and all rationality because deep down we know there is something magical about devoting yourself to another human being so completely.
The problem is we just keep screwing it up because we’ve never seen a good example.
And in the meantime articles on Bloomberg tell us that with divorce rates as they are it makes more economic sense to enter into five or ten year contracts of marriage rather than that whole “till death do us part” shebang. This makes no sense to me. If you’re even going to draw up a pre-nup, why get married in the first place?
I have had the privilege of seeing good, happy marriages. Though a sparse few, I’ve had the benefit of being mentored on how to get my marriage to that state. I think I’ve seen about four happy marriages in my twenty-two years of life. I’m not even there yet and I can wholeheartedly assure you that it is worth it.
I’ve also had the benefit of sampling every other way of life. Open relationships – uniformly disastrous. Dating – confusing and unnecessarily tumultuous (though a necessary step to lead to marriage). Promiscuity – way less fun than it looks from the outside. Being single – is fine. It’s definitely possible to be happy being single. Nothing wrong with it. But marriage stretches your potential for growth in a way that nothing else can.
The thing that we keep getting wrong is that we keep marrying because we think it will add to OUR happiness.
Well, hopefully it will (and should) add to our happiness but that’s completely the wrong motivation for marriage. Wrong meaning it doesn’t work. The only successful reason to marry is to learn how to love the other person. Our enjoyment is only what helps us determine which particular person to marry, not whether to marry at all.
When I was dating my ex-boyfriend every time he did anything without me (often, since it was long-distance) I’d grill him for the details. Who was there, who said what, what did you eat, what was the ambient temperature of the room at the time, and was it Professor Plum in the library with the candlestick? Didn’t know any better. My stomach was absolutely in knots constantly. It was horrible for both of us.
With my husband I can now understand that I have made a decision to trust him. And trust is something you give, like a gift. When he goes out with his coworkers I don’t so much as bat an eye. And I don’t have to control myself either. It feels effortless because I’ve made the decision to trust. So I don’t hoard too much of the credit, it helps that he’s also an easier person to trust.
When Oliver and I were dating we were in a constant state of anxiety. He was always worried I’d leave and I was always worried that I should be leaving. In that state of fear, neither of us could reach our potential as partners. We were stunted in our abilities. Once we finally got married, finally made that commitment, all of that tension vanished. We’re in it for real now. Now we can really learn to love each other. Oliver has grown into such an incredible man, husband and father with just that faith on my part. And what do you know, I’m actually becoming a wife.
It really can be done. I’m not all talk; if you want to know how, take a look at this.