I've written a lot of posts about being single, and dating, and many related thoughts in-between. Lately I’ve been thinking about marriage -- but not because it’s suddenly on my personal radar. I just think it’s interesting that, rather than becoming pro-marriage as I get older (and subsequently closer to a “marrying age”), my long-standing views on the subject just become more reinforced in my mind.
The first time I remember thinking about marriage vs. simply being in a committed relationship was back when I was a teenager. That’s when my parents got divorced. I’m not saying that their divorce turned me off towards marriage, but it’s the first time that anyone’s marriage had ever impacted me personally. Since then, I’ve seen examples of all kinds of relationships -- quite simply, the good, the bad, and the ugly. And quite honestly, it doesn't seem all that appealing.
A few things that come to mind when I think about marriage:
It’s not on my list of life-goals. Getting married has never been something that I’ve felt like I had to do. This probably ties into the fact that I’m also completely happy being childfree. I do know that if I ever have a child, it will be quite a few years in the future. And since I’m not looking to be a mom, I don’t feel like I’m in any rush to "find a dad." That being said, marriage not being on my list of life-goals doesn’t mean that I have to stay single. It’s just that --
I want to be with someone who’s with me because they want to be, not because they feel like they have to be. When two unmarried people live together, they're making the choice to be together every day. They’re not staying together just because they happened to make a vow at some point (that 50% of people who get married end up breaking anyway). I don’t want someone to feel like they have to stay with me if they’d rather not be there.
Marriage means different things to different people. For instance, my younger sister is getting married this fall. She very much wants to do this and I think it’s awesome that she’s doing so, but when I look at her getting married, I see that she’s acknowledging that for her foreseeable future, she knows this will be her life. Barring any major problems, I’m sure she can easily see herself with this guy (who I like very much, I might add) ten years from now and beyond.
They already own a house. They’re talking about having kids, one boy and one girl. It's great for them, but it just seems foreign to me. I can’t picture that life for myself. Not anytime soon. Not in my foreseeable future.
Sometimes people don't believe me when I say that. My family? Yes, they've always believed me because they know me. They know this is how I am, and they know the way I think, and they've always been supportive of me no matter what I choose to do. However, when it's come up in conversation with a guy, I've had more than one of them -- really, a majority of them -- look at me like they don’t believe me when I say that marriage and children are far from being forefront in my mind. They usually respond by saying that any woman who feels that way now is surely going to change her mind at any minute. So inwardly I roll my eyes and think to myself, “Fine. I guess I’ll just have to prove it to you then. Let’s see where I am in five years.”
I realize that many women don’t feel this way, and that’s fine. I’m not trying to change anyone's mind. You should do what's right for you, and so will I. It’s not like I think that being married would hold me back or keep me from doing things in life that I want to do. I realize that if you find the right person, you do things together and you’re supposed to be mutually supportive. I just know that I could be just as happy having that kind of relationship with someone I wasn’t married to.
I can see myself being one of those couples who laugh when people ask them when they're getting married. Like, "Oh, hahahahaha...why would we want to do that?" And then we'll go on our merry way, knowing that we're together because we want to be.
It’s not like I’m declaring that I’ll never get married -- if I do end up changing my mind one day, I’m sure I’ll have a good reason for doing so. It’s just that if I don’t, I won’t feel like I’ve missed out on anything. I’ll choose commitment and honesty over vows any day.
Your Tango: Dan Eldridge says asks, Is Traditional Marriage On Its Last Legs?
[F]or as long as I can remember, I've had a philosophical aversion to the concept of traditional marriage. It has always seemed so wrongheaded to me.
But when I think about the way my mind worked 15 years ago, back when I was still in high school and not yet on anti-anxiety meds, I realize that it probably wasn't so much the actual concept of marriage itself that rubbed me the wrong way. Rather, it was the style in which so many American couples practice their marriages: with constant arguments, with disdain and loathing, and with cheating and lies.
And do you know what? I'm now smack-dab in my mid-thirties, and I still feel exactly the same way.
I really enjoyed this post that Nordette wrote last year on BlogHer: Are You Marriage Material? Er, Do You Want to Be?
I enjoy the freedom of only concerning myself with what my children and elderly parents need and what I need or want. I hated the pressure of being expected to conform to what my former spouse or society believes makes a "good" wife. Neither have I found myself since my divorce thinking I'd do this or go there if only I had a husband or boyfriend. When I try to imagine being married, I shudder, true, but I don't think it's about fear of marriage but aversion.
When singles are stigmatized, there is a risk that some people will be tempted to couple and marry for the wrong reasons -- to escape the cultural muck that comes with being single. When singles are no longer marginalized or demeaned, then people who want to couple can do so from a position of strength. Rather than running away from singlehood to escape the stigma, they can move toward marriage or coupling as something they want to embrace.
Leeat Granek, PhD tells us Why Being Single Doesn't Suck. She wonders why people want to see her in a relationship when "many of my married friends talk about how hard their relationships are and how they wish they could get a break from the kids."
The first thing my girlfriends ask when I speak to them is if I'm dating anyone new. [...] I suppose the wish to be like everyone else, or alternatively, to have everyone else be like you is natural. We are relational beings and are constantly striving to build connection through our sameness in anyway we can. We want to justify our own choices by having them mirrored in everyone else around us. But just because this inclination exists, doesn't mean it's necessarily right.
The Stimulist: RELAX: Your Kids Will Never Get Married
Weiss wonders whether the next generation will be more “creative” about marriage, and that’s the word that comes to our minds, as well. Will people keep getting hitched? Of course. But the number will continue to drop, and not simply because marriage is having an image crisis. Over the next two decades, couples will create new relationship models for others to follow, models that fit their lives rather than the other way around.
(Contributing editor Zandria blogs at Zandria.us.)
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