There’s a difficulty we all must face at one point or another in our lives; a decision that holds our destinies in the balance and can pivot the fate of our lives: Who will I marry?
I wish I could give you the step-by-step process on how to go about conducting the selection process. That’d be great. I could sell it and make millions. Instead I’m just here to rant talk.
There’s numerous reasons why people marry ranging from financial security to tradition to emotional reasons. This is a post about the emotional reasons.
I suppose the major concern with the question of who you’ll marry is realizing that you will have to serve someone for the rest of your life. Are you down for that? Can you even imagine such a thing? I’ve been a future-oriented person for a long time, but even the idea of thinking that far away makes me dizzy.
Nevertheless, the question’s out there. Now comes the cognitive dissonance. “Aren’t I a bit too selfish to serve someone else…forever? Oh, but I really want to get married though! I care about [person] and they’re good to me.”
The funny thing about this is that you cannot enter a marriage with this kind of thinking. You probably shouldn’t even enter a deli.
Imagine, you have a job and you say to yourself, “Aren’t I a bit too selfish to serve others? Oh, but I really want money!”
News flash: Every job is about serving other people. In every relationship, if it’s a good one, serving the other person is a privilege and an honor. I’m definitely not saying it is always convenient and that you’ll always want to do it, but relationships are built by what we do for and with each other.
So if the idea of catering to this other person excites you, even though you’re well aware that there will be times when you don’t want to, congratulations! It is probably safe to consider marriage.
If you don’t have this mindset, that’s okay! Maybe change your approach to relationships and consider if you actually even like your partner enough to stick around.
Another thing to think about is the idea of “until death”. Seems melodramatic, doesn’t it? It’s one of the vestiges of ancient times when women were property and our life expectancy was twelve years. In fact, there are a number of people who think marriage is pointless.
Oscar Wilde wrote in The Picture of Dorian Gray, “Never marry at all, Dorian. Men marry because they are tired, women, because they are curious: both are disappointed.”
Ambrose Bierce in The Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary wrote, “Love, n. A temporary insanity curable by marriage.”
Katharine Hepburn once said, “Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then.”
Coco Chanel uttered these words: “It’s probably not just by chance that I’m alone. It would be very hard for a man to live with me, unless he’s terribly strong. And if he’s stronger than I, I’m the one who can’t live with him… I’m neither smart nor stupid, but I don’t think I’m a run-of-the-mill person.”
On the one hand, we could look at these titans of their industries, these observers of the human condition and simply nod in agreement. They’ve taken Occam’s razor and trimmed this question of marriage into a simple answer. The answer being: there is no sense to it, and, might I add, it came from a tradition that doesn’t exist anymore but was continued when a romantic twist was placed on it. A romantic twist that has never yielded a successful relationship.
Yes, I said never. Because romantic love cannot yield years of devotion. It cannot yield acceptance. It cannot yield longevity. What it yields is sex. What it is, is unconscious. The only thing that yields devotion, acceptance and longevity is making the conscious decision to love.
Having said that, on the other hand, what if these same giants of their time got it wrong? What if they observed people who got married out of romance instead of the decision to love and serve another person? What if they never made the decision to love and serve another person, and instead went on the wild ride their hormones and neurotransmitters led them on?
Judging by how prevalent the notion is that people should get married when in the throes of romance, it wouldn’t surprise me that these legendary folk probably didn’t know what I know — as audacious as that may sound.
Then again, it’s not like I’m married. I’ve just been observing the practice for thirty years. And yet, I’m not as cynical as these people are. Obviously there are people who are married and happy. Obviously there are people who are married and miserable. Therefore, there must be something different in the composition of each marriage.
But even so, do you really have to marry? Even if you and your partner decide to give love and you witness the stark difference in the quality of the relationship, are you guys really going to move in together instead of just visiting from time to time as Katharine Hepburn suggested?
I think you have to be fully honest with yourself. What do you want? What can you handle? You may have to experiment, find out what you want and find a sweet spot. It might work out, or it might lead to an unfortunate end of the relationship because of incompatibility.
If marriage is a ploy to not feel lonely anymore, I can pretty much guarantee it won’t work for long. If it does, the other person is probably miserable. If that doesn’t bother you, that’s pretty selfish. Please stay away from people until you become less selfish.
Furthermore, on this selfish thread, people are mostly concerned about themselves and their stuff. They worry about their car, home, job and spouse. They worry about their possessions, and yes, I’m calling a spouse a possession because that is often how they are treated. Anytime you hear talk about people chasing things in life, it always has to do with possessions, and one of the hottest things you have to get is a relationship.
I’ve never heard of anyone chasing a friendship. Why? Because friends aren’t objects for you to use. But people use relationships to escape and soothe all the time. So if this is a factor one is considering for a relationship, maybe address the issue before you shack up with someone.
So overall, the question of who you’ll marry is one that you might not need to answer. If you’re giving love, that might be enough. No need to get the government involved, no need to move in together. But if you two are compatible, then go for it.
If you’re still asking, but you’re in a relationship, question if the two of you are making the decision to love or if the relationship was really born out of sex.
If you’re wondering but you’re single, just decide to give love instead of solely trying to get it and see what happens. Marriage could be superfluous or a perfect fit for you.
To somewhat balance things out, here’s a positive quote about marriage:
“There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage.” — Martin Luther