in an attempt to respond to a blog written by belle_fleur, i discovered that in my reply resided an entire argument, much too complicated and highly subjective to be taking up the space of a mere reply. thusly, i am speaking my mind in my own little corner and await with heightened curiosity the response my attitude, toward a little thing called love-and-marriage in the 21st century, will receive.
in her blog, belle expresses her concern and disappointment over a research study, the conclusions of which have arrived at the general opinion that the divorce rate is seemingly climbing the charts during times of terminal illnesses. 50% of all marriages in America end in divorce. in other words one in every two couples opts for a dissolution of marriage. this is quite unsettling. and it becomes even more so when you throw ovarian, breast and testicular cancer into the mix and are suddenly left with an unsolvable equation of principles of the old, and struggles of the new. you can read belle’s blog here:
marriage is the social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, religious ceremonies, etc (from the dictionary). the key word here, for the purpose of my argument, is the “social” part. this particular institution was established by society and it is not inherent. we learn as we grow older by watching, doing and observing that we are expected to find prince charming or sleeping beauty and live…of course…happily ever after. this is drilled and instilled in our tiny absorbing brains over and over with perpetual vengeance and determination, by our parents, aunts and uncles, by the fairy tales, by the books, by our teachers and mentors, and by movies and television.
why do people get married?
at the heart of this concept we call marriage should be, ideally, love. two people meet, greet, fall in love, make love, make house, make babies, built family, history and traditions and live together for the rest of their lives. it sounds lovely and comforting, sure. however, as it turns out, there is a host of reasons people marry, besides the L-word.
my own parents, for instance, first locked eyes through an arranged meeting. luckily, they liked what they saw. they’ve been together for thirty years and will continue to do so until their very last days on earth, so i guess one could call that meeting a success. but that’s not to say that these two people, who were suddenly put together side by side with no volition of their own and then expected to act as one, didn’t have their fair share of pain and suffering. even as problems arose and reality set, during the late seventies/early eighties, the dissolution of their union wasn’t even an option. why? because my parents, just like the millions of people that have married and continue to do so in the present, had tied the knot merely because the time had arrived for them to get married, the family had assigned future significant others with “excellent potential,” and lastly but more importantly because it was imperative and expected by society that these two people marry. divorce, on the other hand, was a matter filed under the category of shame in the old communist days of my homeland, albania. the stigma attached to unmarried people, and more specifically to unmarried women, to this day carries a significant amount of disappointment and failure as old childhood dreams are shattered and wishful thinking comes into clear view. this can be devastating and affects both parties: the unwed and those who expect them to marry.
the following might sound absurd but it’s oh-so-real. couples have been known to marry out of convenience, out of fear, out of the sharing of particular activities, legal or not. couples have been known to marry simply for financial stability, for the improvement of an already dysfunctional relationship, as a result of surprise pregnancies, and out of severe fear of ending up alone. marrying for the wrong reasons will, no doubt, lead to the wrong exit. alas, there are plenty who marry because they are in fact very much in love and happy. but why the legalization? it is widely known that a piece of paper does not solidify a relationship. in fact, it acts as a guard, holding the ground outside love’s door, and should the parties practice their freedom toward dissolution it only slows down and threatens the process of divorce. and isn’t it a shame that such a noble notion should live its last days drenched in the type of misery and threat only offered by the pool of legal bureaucracy?
when marriages of then and now are compared and contrasted the gap that emerges between them is significantly wide. why is it then, that we insist upon using principles and applications of the old when the very minds who created them did not have the slightest clue about life in the 21st century? surely, there was a time and place in history when the legalization of love was perhaps necessary for the benefit of families and societies. men provided and women nurtured so, it was only practical that these activities marry. and beneficial. life expectancies were much shorter, living conditions and the status quo much stricter so really, securing a union between a woman and a man must have sounded like an excellent idea. people led simplified lives dictated by rigid social conformity and religious rules. freedoms were taken away in attempts to keep societies “intact.” one could say that the very institution of marriage served for a better behaved, contained society with a common goal: to provide for an immediate family in hopes of reproducing and maintaining the nucleus of said family.
why the forever notion? is that even natural?
today, as we are faced with the full fledged force of modernity while practicing freedom of expression and action, we find ourselves confronted with a whole new set of morals and ethics. the “til death do us part”aspect is one that derives from religious backgrounds, more specifically christianity. when man and woman proclaimed “i do” it was done so in an attempt to promise god that their union was so holy it was to remain permanent. in the present, as scientific theory and freedom of religion is encouraged and practiced, agnosticism and atheism are becoming more popular, so in turn, who are those people exactly vowing to? the government? each other? and why are they being sown a scarlet letter to their chest or plastered with indecency should they decide for dissolution. the reptilian brain is very much active in each and everyone of us and it persistently wants to remind us that our primal instincts aren’t concerned, not even in the slightest amount, with rigid principles of religion or consistent conformity.
it is my opinion, folks, that marriage or the forever is not natural. and that is why we keep failing.
marriages end up in divorce because, as it is often the case, couples realize that marriage is NOT the nectar of the gods our childhood dreams carried into adulthood had made it to be. in fact, and i speak from the stand point of a married woman, i’ve found marriage to be one of the most noble and equally difficult concepts, both in doing and theory. existing as separate from the world while tending to your immediate needs is a lot easier, albeit less meaningful, than existing as a union in a reality full of tasty little obstacles, trials, errors and temptations. we live in a society where such union implies that two people suddenly turn into one. we also live in a society where self-sufficiency and empowerment is embraced and encouraged. these two facts, when positioned side by side, seem to create a somewhat conflicting situation.
it is also my opinion that most people are children in adults’ clothing. tending to the ego, one’s impulsive desires and immediate needs is an easy task. realizing that every step one takes subsequently affects the path of his/her partner, isn’t exactly easy. especially, especially, as was/is my personal case, when independence has been encouraged and practiced pre-marriage. as it turns out, when children find themselves in adult situations, they get scared and run for the hills. hence, divorce. let’s face it, we are driven by our egos, both as means of survival and self-gratification. and when we marry we really mean well. at the moment. some of us are strong, wise and whole enough to know and understand the obstacles even before they arrive so as not to react shocked and awed when the honey moon phase is over. those are the kind of people that succeed in many aspects of their life, should their dedication arise toward said aspects. it is this understanding and compassion geared toward humanity that allows for a more peaceful flow of affairs. but, and this is a huge BUT, many of us are knuckleheads. and impulsive. and though we really want it to be forever, we realize that we simply don’t have the tools to keep the fortress of marriage up and going.