So why get married?

I feel like I have a different perspective on this than other friends who married in the late 1980's. John and I had a baby on the way. Our choice to marry was about supporting Chase.  (Oh yeah, and we were also scared to death.)

Sometimes I'm curious about my friends who spent a year trying on dresses and selecting china patterns, wondering what that experience would have been like.  Honestly, I'm not so sure if the Caribbean Honeymoon ending in a hefty dose of Real Life was much different than our "sink or swim" experience. (Except there were a lot fewer issues of Modern Bride involved.)

To be fair, it was a different world then. Marriage was colored by expectations set by a handful of Disney movies with a dash of the 1950's thought that marriage was the pinnacle point of a woman's life.  Now most 20-somethings I know live together before marriage and if you are LGBQT then your choices are shaped by the state you live in.

So why marry?  (For the sake of this blog post, I'm deliberately taking religious views off the table to look at it through my experience.)

In the beginning, most of our thoughts around the break up of a relationship are about disappointment.  After all, if you don't help me create the life I want then boyfriend/girlfriend 2.0 is right around the corner and we are pretty sure he/she would do a much better job of delivering on that life.  But we don't actually break up over the small disappointments right?  No.  We stay and grow just a little bit resentful.  And the disappointment builds up, until something happens that actually pushes the point.  (Like maybe you meet 2.0 at work one day and have an oh-so-understanding conversation, or you blame your partner forgetting that you've helped co-create this life you are living.) 

The thing about marriage is that you are stuck. As anyone who has ever been through a divorce knows, it is easier to separate conjoined twins than to dismantle sets of friends, a home, bank accounts, children, etc. And so we find ourselves well and truly stuck.  And here is the beautiful part...this stuckness keeps us from running away.  Because we would all rather run away than to stay and own the pieces of what we've created that we don't want to look at. So much easier to chalk it all up to our spouses flaws and walk.

Of course the "stuckness" doesn't always work as designed.  People can "run away" without ever leaving a marriage by walling up, spending all their time at work, or worse scenarios that we can all think of, but if we use the "stuckness" for what it is intended for, then we get to make these incredible gearshifts.  All this longing inside of us for home and family, doesn't get fulfilled by walking down an aisle, it gets built in minutes and days.  In the thousands of choices for "us" instead of for 'me."

I should point out that none of us will marry someone completely unbroken, no matter how perfect for us they seem at the time.  Instead we will choose someone based on chemistry and idealism that will completely unravel revealing the real person inside as the years go on.  And that real person probably looks nothing like our ideals of 2.0 and conversely is probably perfectly designed to reveal the parts of ourselves that we aren't that fond of .

But that stuff is hidden, and it takes a lot of trial and fire to bring it out—both the beautiful and the ugly.  If you actually survive these crashes then what you have on the other side is indescribable to those who haven't experienced it.  It is what we are all looking for—a love with strength and substance to it. 

My observation of serial monogamy is that you keep having to start over. That there are places you can't get to as a couple because you simply run out of time before one of you feels the need to run. And the series of trusted relationships that get ripped apart cause scar tissue.  It isn't that it is unhealable...it is simply that the healing takes time.

I wish more people wrote about the realities of marriage—something beyond this Hollywood ideal of "the one" and more like the depths that you explore over time as you create something.  We look at those who have made it to milestone anniversaries with love shining in their eyes and we wonder at it because it really is something magical.  It isn't that they found "the right" one.  It's that they became the right ones.  And that they did it together. 
© Random Cathy
Maira Gall