Monday, June 25, 2012

Why Get Married At All?

Looking through the dating advice links on Yahoo, the very first article that I found had "Why I'll Never Marry" as the title. The article describes marriage as "antiquated" and quotes a woman saying:
         I’ve come to the realization that marriage was an outmoded convention that doesn’t really work 
         in today’s society. It was created when people lived shorter lives and needed a partner to create 
         babies, till the land and stay warm. This led me to decide that I didn’t want to be married again.
I hate tradition for tradition's sake. Yet, I find myself with some traditional thought patterns, such as a desire to stay with one person for my whole life in Holy Matrimony. For this, some people have treated me with a sort of infantilizing tone, interpreting me as someone who just doesn't yet understand that I don't have to follow the conventions of our forefathers.
Owen and I are totally bad ass for being married. It's so uncool that we're cool for doing it anyways.

To ask, "Why get married at all?" we must ask two separate questions. First, "why stick with just one person for your whole life," and second, "if you do stick with one person, why make it legal?"

Do you know the best thing to do when I'm angry and headed in your direction?
You have to make me laugh.  You also have to know what I'm going to think is funny and what's just going to make it worse. Owen has learned what to say and when to say it. By making the decision that we are going to be in each others lives forever, we have also made the decision that we are safe enough with each other to invest in knowing each other as fully as possible. We are making the effort to learn how to make each other happy.

Because we have dedicated so much time to taking care of each other, Owen and I both benefit on many levels. For one, we each have a person who puts us first. Just knowing that Owen will (and often does) drop everything to help me gives me a deep sense of worth and contentment. Also, each of us has someone to take care of, which, as I've said before, may be even more important.

As a dedicated couple we find ourselves growing ever closer together. In a sense, we are progressing toward oneness. If a certain philosopher is correct (I can't remember the philosopher for sure, but I'm thinking Aristotle), then by becoming more integrated into each other's lives we can also learn to love everyone else better as well. The philosopher describes a man's attempt to love all women. He starts by loving the female figure, but he quickly finds that one figure blends into another figure and ultimately he hasn't loved any women. Yet, when he loves a single woman in every way and devotes his life to loving this one woman he learns how to love a woman properly and develops a depth of tenderness and care for women generally, thus loving all women.

One of our good friends claims that Owen has become nicer since dating me. Because of the time that he has spent loving me and figuring out just how I tick, Owen now has a better idea of how to communicate with women in such a way as to make us feel appreciated. 

Aside from the emotional investment piece, there's always the question of why to limit your sexual life to only one person. On this point I consider myself to have traditional ideas, but for modern reasons. I believe that in order to have the most pleasure, you have to give yourself fully to one partner who knows your ins and outs and will make the effort to make you feel good. Some people claim that passion and romance die after marriage. Others do not; others make the claim that it only gets better the longer that they have to be with each other and know each other. Perhaps, like with any physical activity, it's a matter of practice makes perfect?

In my observation, staying with a single partner is also a matter of emotional health, especially for women. Though many try, we cannot sever sexuality from emotion. People are so emotional about it, that they're emotional about other people's habits. Why are abortion and gay-marriage the two big political social issues? Because they have to do with sex! Pre-marriage, I was telling a friend about how Owen and I could share anything with each other. She responded that she mostly had that in her relationship, however, she and her boyfriend could not talk about their previous sexual experiences. It was one topic that was just too painful to share with each other.

If you, like us, decide to stick to one person, then why make it legal?

First of all, I do not believe that paperwork makes marriage--that's ludicrous. Owen has relatives in Finland who have lived together for over twenty years and have children. How can we say that they aren't married, yet people, like Tabloid Movie Stars who made it legal just to divorce within a year were married? Anyways, point being, we do not believe that signing a paper makes you married.

Really, for Owen and I, it came down to this: we wanted to get married in a public expression of our love for each other in front of the world. Legal binding provides, in a sense, just another way to become closer to each other. Yet, any attempts we give to justify that decision risk simplifying it and making it less than it is. Both of us hope to take big risks in our lives, and by getting married we took a pretty big risk on each other.

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