Wednesday, May 6, 2009

My Little Soap Box: Call it blogger suicide .

Mike and I have been dating for roughly six years and one of the most commonly asked questions of us is: When are you two going to get married- you know tie the knot, make a family, take the plunge??? Which leaves me in the rather awkward position of saying....never. Actually I turn the question around and ask them why I would want to commit myself to an institution that fails more often than it succeeds. But I realize that in most cases I talking to a wall, because the idea of marriage is so readily accepted in society that to oppose such an act is blasphemy, or at least borderline insanity.
I've long shied away from addressing the topic, so clearly linked to my views on religion to spare my family any hurt this belief causes. However, my good friend Kirsten Uhler (kirstenuhler.com) recently wrote a paper on traditional marriage. It required hours of research and from conception I was anxious to read her thoughts on the matter. There were several points made in her paper that reflected my own views toward marriage, and I thought to myself....what a good ice-breaker!! And while this post is in no way meant to be a comprehensive argument against marriage, I am merely attempting to establish a few...points of reason.
Most people argue that by repeating verbatim a set a words in front of a person of questionable integrity that your relationship is magically transformed to something that transcends differences and into self created euphoria. The reality could not be further from the truth. In all likelihood, your relationship will continue on the same path it trod prior to 'the happiest day of your life'. While I realize the words symbolize a commitment to each other, that commitment is entirely attainable outside of a legal or religious realm. What's interesting to me is that same commitment that was supposed to draw the couple closer is often the same commitment that serves as their demise. Marriage lulls you into a sense of complacency and comfort. Standards are relaxed and soon the very traits that attracted you towards your companion are the very things which are soon lost in the tide of time. 
One of my original discomforts with marriage was the fact that I had to pick just ONE person to share my ENTIRE life with, often at age when self discovery has just begun. The very idea that two people can maintain a relationship that fulfills all of their physical and emotional needs is slim, as shown by the statistics. I believe that it is possible, even convenient to be able to find such a person, but the reality of the situation is that those people at some point will grow in different directions. It is then, as adults we should acknowledge that fact, and move on in a more positive direction instead of pressing forward in what can only be a oppressive relationship in some sense or another. 
Kirsten Uhler, in her paper on traditional marriage (kirstenuhler.com) nailed down another key argument. "I believe structure, stabilization, security, and consistency can be achieved without a legal marriage contract. A stable "family unit" can exist in a non-traditional sense." God aside, those are exactly the sentiments and judgements an unmarried couple is subject to regardless of reality.
 The vows you repeat come with no 'club' manual divulging the secrets to maintaining a happy relationships, you simply stand alongside the billions of other couples trying to see past differences and share your life with someone who, for the moment at least...makes you smile, laugh, kiss, and cry. 
Six years out, Mike and I  continue to stay in shape, try new things, listen and address each others problems, aggravate, romance, and support one another. We continually ask about each others happiness and satisfaction in the relationship and have established a happy open relationship with each other based honesty, trust, and love. We both know that if the other person is not happy, we would rather say good-bye to see them happy than have them stick around and be miserable. I wouldn't have it any other way.
p.s. I mean really...drawing up a legal document that evolves around a passion based emotion?? Really?? 

7 comments:

Brent Danley said...

Reading your post is like inhaling a huge breath of fresh air. It's too bad your attitude isn't more common. Very well said, Kim.

I love you and Mike. Why f**k up your wonderful relationship with a marriage license? Marriage is benign at best and usually corrosive to a relationship. I openly challenge anybody to enumerate the real (not imagined) benefits of marriage. EVERY benefit of marriage (outside the legal prejudice) can be enjoyed without marriage.

From The Rhetoric:

Promising to love someone tomorrow is puerile. The subjugation of women is immoral. An expectation of sexual fidelity is insecure, unreasonable and selfish. Traditional marriage should, like religious myth, be relegated to history.I don't get the title of your post. Why "Blogger suicide"?

sparkyballet said...

@Brent-Thank you for your support and encouragement of this post. It was wonderful to be able to bounce ideas off of both you and Kirsten on the issue.

Blogger suicide because a large portion of my blog readers have a mormon background.

Kirsten said...

What a great post, Kim! I enjoyed reading it. Thanks for the accolades. :-)

I like what you said about us moving in different directions: "...as adults we should acknowledge that fact, and move on in a more positive direction instead of pressing forward in what can only be a oppressive relationship in some sense or another."

You and Michael have such a great, healthy relationship. Marriage would in no way enhance it! To be willing to say goodbye for the sake of the other person's happiness takes tremendous love and maturity.

Matthew and Hillary said...

While I agree with you on the account that marriages are failing big time across the world (though I still firmly believe in marriage as opposed to shacking up), there's one BIG reason I think marriage is still important...and that is for the children's sake should you decide to have children. While the happiness of the husband and wife is important, I believe once you bring children into the world that your responsibility is to not mess up their lives because of your choices. There are countless tales of broken homes and what that does to children. Marriage commitments makes it at least somewhat more difficult for one spouse or the other to just walk away should they decide they don't care about the life they've created for themselves. Otherwise, like you said, when they grow apart in some way, they could simply walk away. And where would that leave their kids? Kids need a stable home to grow up in, and so I think we need the institution of marriage to make sure that still happens. Kids watch their parents and realize how (and sometimes how not)to treat members of the opposite sex. My kid is only one and I can already see the different roles my husband and I play in his life. So at LEAST for the kids sakes (and other reasons), I still stand by marriage.

jeannette stgermain said...

The marriage lisence is to me the seal on the relationship, like when you have graduated, on your degree should be a seal.

How a marriage fares through the years, is entirely up to the couple!!!
About license? License or no license, you CHOOSE to be faithful or not.
I don't think it's fair to the other person to have invested everything in you, and you giving it up, because of your own happiness, or you cannot cope with feelings of attraction - a little bit adolescent, I would say.

I disagree with the poem you are referring to that it is for stability, etc. People have scratched their ear, have been dumbfounded with the things we have done as a couple.

Given up stable jobs and status to study in another country. At another time, beginnin to study in graduate school with having three little children when I was 36 years old; we have lived in three different countries while married, just to name a few.

I'm not mad or anything, I just have a very strong opinion about skirting a responsibility one has to their best friend.
Now, if your partner/spouse/what have you, is not your best friend, than you may write a poem like that.

sorry, I don't have a mormon background LOL

BECKY said...

First—I am not here to bash. You have just stated your opinion and I am stating mine. I have read this comment over and over hoping not to offend and that is how I hope it comes across and how you take it.

At the beginning of your post you said, “I… ask them why I would want to commit myself to an institution that fails more often than it succeeds.” It seems as though you’re saying that you and Mike don’t get married because you’re pretty sure it will fail. Your comment of “as adults we should… move on in a more positive direction instead of pressing forward in what can only be a oppressive relationship … We both know that if the other person is not happy, we would rather say good-bye to see them happy than have them stick around and be miserable” says to me that you are pretty sure you don’t plan to stay with Mike. You are still at the point in your life where you are still “at age when self discovery has just begun”… you seem to be saying that you are pretty confident you are still on the search for the one who you really want. And if that is the case, if you were to get married--a broken marriage would be the result.

I feel that marriage doesn’t have to be oppressive and complacent unless you make it that way. Once you’ve dated enough people and you feel the ‘self-discovery age’ (though I feel that every age is new and exciting, not just our college-ageish days) has come to a place where you’ve found the one person you really want to share your entire life with; it is the best! Marriage, for me, is a game I WANT to win! We both want to be happy our whole lives and we’ve committed to help each other achieve that. ALL relationships have times when “people at some point will grow in different direction”, but it’s the commitment and promise to each other to help each other find that happiness (which is all in attitude, not circumstances anyway). I WANT to be one of those “slim statistics” who will spend the time and effort to maintain the relationship that fulfills all of my physical and emotional needs.

Technically what this all boils down to: as with everything, your thoughts and my thoughts are just different opinions and perspectives. My opinion—marriage does work. Your opinion—marriage does not work.

Shanna said...

BECKY-
You said that so well and it made me feel proud and so happy to be married to my best friend-FOREVER! How cool is it that we get to spend a lifetime and beyond learning and growing together with the same person whom we love with all our hearts. For me, marriage is more about serving and helping my husband, than about my own personal needs and wants. I love it! Thanks for sharing your views and standing up for what we hold so sacred-eternal marriage!! Woot Woot!

LOVE YOU KIM!