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The cake, the dress and the drunken uncle

I seem to have started my fast on an energetic note by eating something poisonous, so spent a pitiful stint moaning in the bathroom as my body attempted to purge itself of, it seemed, everything it had ever eaten. Damn you, Virgo rising, and the acutely sensitive digestive system.

Fell into that weird, deep kind of dreamless sleep that's more like unconsciousness, woke up in the small and incovenient hours to catch the tail end of Kannathil Mutthamital, which was unexpectedly good and unexpectedly sad. I wonder if there will come a time when I can watch a film featuring civil war and not be achingly reminded of Yugoslavia.

And still failing to sleep, I'm watching Bob Geldoff babbling on about marriage, and finding myself saying Bullshit, bullshit which is doing nothing at all to help me sleep but is very invigorating for the mind.

I'm not saying that I disagree with everything, but I don't like the way that he presents because the emphasis seems to be on confused people and what seems an undertone of simplistic machismo.
e.g.
"When you've had a shit day, and you come home and she's done something simple like make a meal, it's just so powerful, and so feminine and so sexy".

I know I've got at least four happily wedded persons on my friends list, and hats off to you; My problem is not with marriage itself, simply the idea that marriage is necessary to sanctify, or seal a union.

If I got married, I think I'd like it to be secret and private, witnessed by only a few people who I considered to be closest and dearest to me. I would not wear white and I would not get married in a church, unless it was a church in ruins whose roof was sky.

And I resent the sentences such as *risk of divorce* as though divorce was something contagious, or insidious like cancer. As though it ought to be preventable, that things would be somehow better if it were.

I know that people can certainly gain something very valuable by *sticking it out* as it were, with another human being after the initial buzz and honeymoon romance has worn away. That proofs of love are not roses and poetry but washing the dishes, and saying *I;ll make dinner, you're tired* and getting up to soothe and change the screaming baby so your partner can get some sleep.

All these things I respect and value, as I do people who treat each other well, who work on themselves and their relationship even (and especially) when that work is neither easy nor pretty. It's something I'm ready to experience now, a long-term relationship in which you hopefull grow together, and find a whole new level of intimacy that comes of seeing all the repeated proof of one another's faults and irritating habits and still electing to love that person.

But at the same time, if people have stopped being able to communicate and grow together, if they are stagnating, if they no longer connect, if they feel like they are deceiving themselves, or flogging a dead horse by trying to do CPR on a dead union- is that a thing to be lauded and encouraged? Should not part of healthy relationships be also healthy endings and letting go?

Certainly if I no longer felt that the person I was with was no longer connected to me, to our relationship, I would not want to be in that kind of relationship. I have experienced this, and it was shatteringly painful to let go but it was less painful than the ache of the wall between us and him being secret and drifting away while we were *together*- because then it felt like I was being left continuously, in every moment we were together.

And if I no longer loved someone, but stayed with them- I don't think that was a good idea either. I've done this, and frankly never want to do it again. I hated my partner, I hated myself, outwardly I was civil and present, but in my mind I was not there. My true self, my core self had left long before and was in places and realms he could not hope to reach. I deceived him with my every thought, as I lied about who I was and what I wanted and frankly no matter what the surface appearance none of this strikes me as a fundamentally loving or honourable act.

I considered it more honourable and loving to be honest, even though it was very hard- because I thought that by staying together I was killing myself and leading him on, when we could have both been getting on with our lives and finding people and experiences we were more suited to. Our relationship had served a purpose, it had completed itself and when it was over that was an ending not a statement of value, or of failure.

One of the points in the program is about taking marriage more seriously, and learning not to follow our fickling happinesses, so that I quote: *we can be chained in a good, not a bad way*. I of course allow that this may well be just me, but the idea of being chained at all , of chains of any kind (Moon-Uranus say hello) fills me with such a terror and rage that I want to fling all the cords off me and vanish Road-Runner style.

And should the idea of the personal pursuit of happiness be dissed, or dismissed? I realise that personal gratification to the detriment of someone else is hardly the fastest way to uplift the spirit. But at the same time is not the personal unhappiness and entrapment also to their detriment, as they eat and sleep and absorb one another's misery? Is being with someone with your physical body while your heart is somewhere else, not a false gift?

I do realise that my fierce need for independece is not a common trait. I can think of people who are delighted with the notion of being bonded to someone as securely as possible. I like the idea of partnership, I dislike the idea of co-dependency because co-dependency to me is based on insecurity, where Fear threads itself through Love. The biggest gift I've been able to give my partners was tell them: "I don't need you to make me whole, or make me happy. I am already whole. But I will expand the circle of my being to link with yours. I will share myself with you, and I will not deceive you. I choose you not from fear, or from a thinking of lack, but with my full heart and I ask you to treat me with love, and connect with me in the time you are with me, and never lie to me." Yes, of course it's devastating and painful when the person you're not finished loving tells you they can no longer be with you because they love someone else. But I consider it preferable to deception.

People say that there need to be more serious consequences to the dissolution of marriage in order to encourage people to commit to each other and reduce divorce, and my fundamental qualm with this is why are we focusing on preventing divorce?

If the fear of something is what keeps two people in a union, is that the best message to send? Does that not devalue the union, and the people themselves?

What is it that we fear so much about divorce? Yes, obviously, broken homes, unhappy children- but I can say that children of unhappy still married parents are also unhappy.
I remember as a child how terrified and distressed I was at the sounds of my parents arguing, of feeling their frustration and anger radiate outwards from the room as they let their pent-up fury at thier lives fly at each other.
I remember being asked as a three year old if I knew what Divorce was, and replying:
That Thing Which Mommy and Daddy are not allowed to do if they have a three-year old girl , and of course what I was reacting to, what I was terrified of was the thought of losing a parent, of being abandoned (which I don't think necessarily has to happen with divorce) and that I clung to emotional security which was totally missing by looking for any physical manifestations of union.

In my older age I joked that if my parents had divorced it would have probably meant I'd have seen a lot more of my father, and definately seen him on a regular basis. Certainly in his incarnation as husband he had the ability to say *I'll be back in an hour, and come back the next morning (Comically usually at 5am when the bakeries had just opened, so he'd stop to buy fresh bread and be oooh'd at by all the housewives and held up as an example of magnificent and thoughtful husband).

I object to the notion that a divorce means that a marriage has somehow failed. That duration seems to get mixed up with the idea of worth, or quality and that ability to stay with a human being seems to be touted as an example of moral fibre.

Of course it could be that I'm reading too much into Geldoff's ham-fisted philosophising, but still. I think the basic point remains.

What is is that draws us to marriage? Makes us want to stay there? Is the ideal of One Person for the Rest of a Life a healthy thing?

I am not sure.

Comments

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
mooism
Oct. 18th, 2004 04:38 am (UTC)
Marriage for life isn’t that bad an idea when most people will only live to be forty or so. But these days we have a pensions crisis.
modalverben
Oct. 18th, 2004 04:46 am (UTC)
I once took the meat out of sandwiches and ate the bread, I was as sick as a dog.
miss_newham
Oct. 18th, 2004 05:04 am (UTC)
I did the self-same thing on Saturday and survived, I am the hardest Tube Walker of all!

As for everything else, it has given me a lot to ponder. Hmmm...
mzdt
Oct. 18th, 2004 04:51 am (UTC)
distracted waffle
Hmmm. I lived with a woman with a fairly traditional outlook for around three years. She said she liked me as I was, but apparently there were lots of things she wanted to change about me...

One of them was my attitude to marriage - to her it was almost an ultimate goal. At one point (at a party, actually) she told me she was going to tell people we were engaged, and refused to understand why I was so against that. Isn't being engaged telling people you are getting married?

I do realise that my fierce need for independence is not a common trait.

Oh, it is - amongst my generation, or social group, anyway. I'm not going to suggest for a second that there are no differences in opportunities between the genders, but things are a lot better than for the previous generation. House prices might push things backward, but at least in theory we don't need to be in a relationship for housing or financial security. We can be with someone because we want to be, split up when we want. FT, mentioned above, wanted the married status 'to show people how we feel about each other'. Surely choosing to be together without any legal ties - that says more to me than a certificate (I did offer a non-engagement ring, as a formal token, but not linked into any promise of marriage).

A friend was married with three children and fell in love with someone else. It happens. Even though he didn't stay in touch with me and I stayed friends with his ex partner and children, I could see his point of view. I'm not saying it was right or wrong - I'd hate to be in that position.

As mentioned briefly at the weekend, I'm not sure where things are going for me at the moment. But I know who I am more now than I ever have and I'm going to hang on to that. An ideal relationship for me would be an equal partnership that suits both people and the situation therein, and I'm open to some pretty diverse situations.
rainsinger
Oct. 19th, 2004 12:49 am (UTC)
Re: distracted waffle
At one point (at a party, actually) she told me she was going to tell people we were engaged, and refused to understand why I was so against that

Wow. that's kind of creepy.
livemeat
Oct. 18th, 2004 04:52 am (UTC)
What is is that draws us to marriage?
Being told from the age when one is able to comprehend that it's 'the right hing to do', irrespective of whether you buy into the religion that's telling you that it's the case.

saucebook
Oct. 18th, 2004 05:11 am (UTC)
wise words on marriage and partnership, none of which I would disagree with. but I feel an irrational desire to defend saint Bob, even without having seen the programme.
rainsinger
Oct. 19th, 2004 12:15 am (UTC)
Fair enough :)
I've got nothing against the man's music mind.
And as dubaiyan said he is pleasingly scruffy.

However, outside of music scenarios at which he's great i was mostly getting insight into why his wife might have left him.
casaubon
Oct. 18th, 2004 05:14 am (UTC)
Geldof's programme about divorced fathers was even more annoying.

It opened with a scene of fathers playing with their kids in a park (along with a poetic voiceover). I just sat there wondering how he knew whether these people were divorced or not - since I take my son to the park by myself most weekends.

Back to marriage. Kathy & I got married because it simplified the legal situation and gave us an excuse for a big party. We'd already decided to spend our lives together, otherwise we wouldn't have had Tom.
meepettemu
Oct. 18th, 2004 05:22 am (UTC)
"because then it felt like I was being left continuously, in every moment we were together. "

Yes. Exactly.

I think security draws us, a sense of belonging perhaps - not to a person, just belonging. To have a place, and a part to play on a very personal level.

I don't have a problem with the idea of "one person forever" if that relationship is a happy one. Why change something that works? on the other hand..

At work the other day, we were talking about relationships. Lesley said she had always thought that she was very happy with her first husband. It was until after he died (suicide) and she eventually met someone else she married, that she realised how many different ways that she had been unhappy, and just had not allowed herself to feel. Of course, given the things she says about her current husband (not BAD things per se, just comments that make you think) i wonder how happy she really is with him no.

I wonder partly if marriage stems from the "olden days", where women were property pretty much, goning from father to husband - a thing that was *given*. Do we still want to give ourselves away to someone else because that is the archetype?

I suspect men's ideas would be very different.

Live for today, that is me now. :o) It works
(Deleted comment)
guihong
Oct. 18th, 2004 08:44 am (UTC)
Ouch. Just ouch.

I don't have a lot to add to you and the above, but a lot to think about.

Me
dubaiyan
Oct. 18th, 2004 11:57 am (UTC)
Dunno either.
I mean, my mum either tolerates or loathes my dad, and vice versa. But they're so used to each other they can't function without. They display great teamwork when ganging up on me ;)

Also, I like Geldof because he is scruffy.
dubaiyan
Oct. 18th, 2004 12:02 pm (UTC)
though what do I know
Broke up with "fiancé" cos he wanted to get married and I didn't.

But perversely support marriage.

Perhaps it's to do with not really believing anyone would stay with me and making it harder for them to get away? :D :D
rainsinger
Oct. 19th, 2004 12:48 am (UTC)
Re: though what do I know
Of course someone would stay with you, providing they were a person of refinement and good taste. :)
You're a great person - why wouldn't they?

I've got nothing agaisnt the principle of marriage but I think it ought to be re-examined in a major way. If people want to get married, I won't stand in their way. I just want the focus to be on improving the quality of people's relationships, rather than duration.

But also my perspective is fundamentally Western- biased, where the focus is on the growth of the individual.

On another note,
A reason why your parents gang up on you, may be so they can tolerate one another. I've seen it happen time and time again - where one person in the family gets labelled as a problem, or a black sheep allowing other members of the family to become a united front and conveniently decide that there's nothing wrong with them , there'd be no problems at all if only X did Y.

dubaiyan
Oct. 19th, 2004 05:50 am (UTC)
*nod*
As I often yelled during The Crisis, "the only time you two get on are when you're making MY life a misery"

I may end up in a pink marriage myself - other than that, can't really imagine myself a wife.
elf_awareness
Oct. 20th, 2004 12:30 am (UTC)
It's only since I've realized that I could live without Rachel that I have been experiencing my love for her. In a deepening way, at least.

We almost split, as you know, Nina. And in many ways psychologically speaking it might have been better if I had left to be on my own. You asked me yourself..."Why are you so afraid to be alone...?" Good question.

I believe splitting up is very good for a lot of people. Holding on seems to be a sin to me. Much worse than divorce.But in letting go..in the free fall... I found something I missed..In retrospect.And in letting go of fear I found myself no longer afraid of being alone, and no longer afraid of being together.It was never as clear cut for me as that, but I don't want to bore any more than I already have.

Anyway...Time will tell. But for me leaving was too much like running away. And we have something to finish, and it may take the time we have been alloted to do that. Things get clearer for me when I let them unfold.

I have often thought those Irish term marriages have quite an appeal, tho.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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