Day 270 - Personal Love: The Ruin of Marriage?
I think this concept has totally f’ed up love. Today we want to find someone who is our best friend, lover, confidant, parter, provider, sharer of household and child rearing responsibilities, understander of our goals ambitions, supporter of all we do, feel and think and loves us to the exclusion of all others while having the most amazing sex of our lives. That seems impossible! Because it is...and not why you may think.
Yet it is what everyone wants.
Marriage is no longer an institution to protect or grow wealth or raise children, it has become this expectation laden place where more than 50% of them die. And given all that we expect, want, demand, insist and need, it seems totally legit that they fail: over and over and over again.
Yet here we are. In a place where marriage as an institution has been changed and no one really talks about it. I have never been to a dinner party or gathering and had any one ever bring up how much marriage is different today. I have heard my parents generation say that we expect too much from our spouses, but that always seemed like a convenient dismissal from an envious generation.
I do not think that I ever thought of marriage other than a container for personal love. I did not ever ask myself what kind of marriage did I want to have, and then the further question as to whether the person I was marrying was capable of making that commitment or whether I was...
I married into a traditional marriage. He was in the military. His career was going to take precedence over mine by definition. Me working was going to be hard given that we would move every two to three years. I was set upon a stage where the marriages of the 1950s was still alive and well: the men went off to work, and the women stayed home and had babies. Anyone who knows me will find this incongruence fucking hilarious. And yet, I did it. I married into that. Why?
It is what I grew up with. Plain and simple. As much as it was never what I, Erin, really wanted, it was what felt familiar and safe. I knew how to do that marriage because I saw it every day of my life. Trouble was, I was not my mother. And my ex-husband was not my father and it was 2004 not 1967. I made a lifetime commitment into a marriage for the entirely wrong decade, pretending to be something I was not. It is no wonder that it failed given it was off from the start.
I never, not even once, thought about what kind of marriage I wanted. I didn’t even know there were different kinds.
I am still working this theory out so bear with me. So far I have come up with the following categories of marriage:
The 1950s marriage: which is what every marriage was before this time.
The 1960s marriage: evolved, yet not.
The 1970s marriage: evolved more, but hard on the woman.
The 1980s marriage: DINKs (Dual income, no kids) prevail.
The 1990s marriage: DIWK's(Dual income, with kids) prevail and men step up on their way to becoming equal parents.
The 2000s marriage: What we have today and it shifts and changes but really only in the heaping on of expectations.
I would argue that this idea of personal love is what changed marriage over the last 50 years. Today it is this same idea that threatens marriage's future stability.
I am going to dive into these marriages in more detail tomorrow but for today I am just putting the concept out there that all of these marriage archetypes still exist today and they serve a purpose. I also am just introducing the idea that one chooses which one of these marriages to have today which is what makes the marriage of today so incredible because none of us ever really had a choice before. But today we make the choice with little to no thought about the choice we are making, why we are making it and whether or not we can even live up to the expectations of the marriage we are selecting. Are we the women who can do the 1950s marriage? Are the men we are marrying capable of doing it?
Then there is gay marriage and, I would argue, that the gay and transgendered communities are making the same choices with the same lack of thought and insight as the rest of us. Well, maybe that is wrong. I don't know. Maybe these communities do a better job...I am not sure what their divorce rate is...I will find out and report back to the class.
So going back to this concept of personal love, I think that we are headed for a lot of trouble if we aren't willing to do the personal work required to create the environment for this personal love to flourish and grow. It takes a very evolved person to really participate over decades to be present in a personal love relationship. Where what you want and need is really as important as what you partner wants and needs and that goals and decisions are made with the best interest of the unit as well as the individual. I think it can be done, but I think that our society is woefully unprepared spiritually.
So I want to begin the discussion. Let's see what happens when we look at marriage and commitment and love and sex and children and careers and lifetimes through the 2020 lens. It is about the get wacky up in here is my guess. I can't wait!