Monday, June 25, 2012

Marriage, Ltd

Oh, blessed cool evening air!  The humidity has dropped and our windows are open - this is heaven.  Doesn't hurt that the kids are all out of the house with Larry at a minor league baseball game.  Dollar night, folks - can't beat it.

Has anyone seen this piece of inanity yet?  No?  Here's the kicker:

...perhaps we should consider marriage as more "till the kids part" than "till death do us part." The partner we need in our 20s and 30s, when many of us are looking to settle down and raise kids, may not be the partner we need in our 50s, 60s and beyond, when we're free to explore new passions or reinvigorate the ones we gave up when the kids came along.

Wow, first we have disposable wipes and disposable diapers; and now?  Disposable spouses!  Use one up and get another!  What's striking about the above (aside from its complete misunderstanding of the marriage concept) is its lack of awareness that the children don't just disappear into their own lives after age 18, never to be seen again.  There's also a refusal to acknowledge that stuff happens in our lives, BAD stuff, even before our lovely offspring have been released into the wild to spawn.  Can you picture saying to your 50-year-old Parkinsons-stricken spouse, "Well, our contract is done, kids are raised, and I'm off to seek my own adventures now!  Have a nice life!"

Essentially, the above concept assumes that the married couple has nothing in common but their kids.  No shared history, no shared responsibility toward each other, nothing that would add depth and meaning to a relationship that has already endured for at least 18 years.  Has this author never known a long-married couple?  It's not necessarily about exploring new passions together as they age; it's about deepening the ties they already have, sharing the memories that only the two of them possess, enjoying their grandchildren together.

Don't get me wrong - I am not in the least Pollyanna-ish about marriage; and I'm not against divorce, per se.  I have friends getting divorced left and right, and for good reasons.  But at least they tried to build something lasting.  At least they regarded their marriages as something more than a limited partnership with a pre-determined expiration date.  Lifelong marriage is a worthwhile, if lofty, goal and shouldn't be abandoned wholesale.

Pretty ambitious talk for a woman who can still become incensed by her spouse's toothpaste tube habits, I'll admit...


[wedding image: posterjack]



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16 comments:

  1. having spent almost 35 years with my high school sweetheart I still have no useful advice. But separate tubes of toothpaste are very helpful.

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  2. I'm sure that if that piece was written by a man who would advocate trading in your 50+ year old wife who had fulfilled her designation of helping to build her husband's career and raising his kids for a 25 year old model, because at the age of 50 men have different needs, like having adventures, wild sex life and picture themselves an Arabian Sheikh, the author of this article would be the first one to foam at her mouth.

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    Replies
    1. That's a good point. I hadn't even thought about the gender of the writer. Although I guess she would say that that scenario would work if it had been pre-arranged. Right.

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    2. This is what she is basically saying. It is easy to see how disgusting her suggestion is using a realistic example, which happens often and is universally frowned upon. And this is precisely what she's trying to legitimize. Only my example is not premeditated, most of the time. Going into relationship with the understanding that you will be using someone else and then discarding the person later, is just sick. I believe sociopaths are described very similarly.

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  3. What a horrible idea. I didn't marry until I was 40, and it was hard enough finding one man I wanted to spend my life with! Having found him, I'm keeping him!

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  4. AnonymousJune 26, 2012

    I couldn't finish reading the article because my monitor was obscured by red! But in response to what I read:
    1) Have you ever noticed that if you have more than one child, it takes more than 18 years to get them to adulthood?

    2) We already have people whose function is to raise children to 18. They are referred to as nannies and teachers. We pay them, we don't marry them. I'm sure that it would be possible to contract for their services for 18 years without having to go to the expense and trouble of having to sleep with them, have sex with them and then pay for a divorce.

    3) Adult children these days frequently return home and have no plans to leave. Ask me how I know!

    4) Now that the kids are grown and we are achieving financial stability, I find that I like and enjoy my husband a lot more and want to spend more time with him. He has mellowed and the stresses of our life have eased. If we could make it through the hard times, why would I ditch him now? I love him even more than I did when we started!

    5) Where was love in this author's scheme of things? It didn't seem to be a factor. Just a contract for services. EEW!

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  5. The article made me sad--relationships are NOT dispensable. And I know plenty of grown ups with split up families and it's NOT easier later on in life to divorce. Relationships have attachments that we cannot just leave by the curb, even in the most dysfunctional relationships, emotions are in play.

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  6. This kind of stuff always makes me laugh considering how much you hear people preaching about the sanctity of marriage.

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  7. Ah... LOVE your rebuttal--so true, so wise. Marriage is hard, and marriage goes through seasons, but there are these amazing concepts called adaptability and commitment.

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  8. My mother recently told me the secrets to a long marriage are - love and procrastination.

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  9. I've been married to my college sweetheart for 20 years and I intend to stay married to him, damn it. (Although we did recently "discuss" what I would do to him if I ever found out he was cheating on me. This discussion involved me talking energetically and using many words, while he listened carefully and tried not to look fearful.)

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  10. I went and read the article. I don't agree with the whole concept although I have been one to say that "if things don't get better by the time my youngest graduates from school I'm done" and "I think marriage should have to be renewed" (funny that was brought up there).

    I got married when I was 19. I don't think we fully know what we are doing at that age (therefore I don't recommend it) BUT we do love eachother and everytime I think we've hit the bottom and things are just horrible something happens and we start climbing back up the roller coaster tracks and life is good again. We've been married 19 years, longer than most people I know so we must be doing something right, although I don't know what it is other than to wait out the bad times and live it up when it's good!

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  11. It's impossible to generalize; but I'd say a commitment to staying married is the best predictor of long-time marital "success" than anything else, more than getting married young or old or inbetween. As you point out, you have to wait out the bad times (barring abuse, of course). I think it is the rare couple that can stay madly in love constantly.

    But no one who gets married fully knows what he/she is doing. If he/she did, no one would get married.

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  12. The one that got me was a few years back when Angela Merkel (I think?) proposed that all marriage licenses expire after seven years... and if you didn't want to renew it, you just divorced instead. Or something like that. Blew my ever-lovin' mind.

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  13. Too many people just don't take marriage seriously any more. If you're not in it for the duration, then don't tie the knot!

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  14. Commitment and love-as-a-verb... I refuse to believe that these things are becoming extinct! I have hope for the next generation because of two things (says the mom who has been married for 25 years and whose oldest child is marrying in 5 more weeks).

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