Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A little Carrie - post happy hour, even!

i mentioned in my last post that i was reading isak dineson's "on modern marriage." i found this book during my time in arizona - written, i think - as a response to her experiences with an unfaithful husband and her love affair with Denys Finch Hatten. as you can guess, it's fairly down on marriage as an institution. i was also reading it at a time when friends were starting to marry off - and as a bridesmaid and fairly single person - i started researching the concept of marriage from all possible vantage points.

it was my first real experience of watching marriages fail - the work i did was long and tiring, leading to a lot of emotional intimacy between co-workers - leading to alienation of affection - leading to divorces left and right.

it was right after undergrad, so my experience thus far was that marriage was the Goal - it was the next thing after the diploma and the foundation on which your "real life" could begin.

but i always had kind of a neutral position on marriage - i knew from experiencing disappointment - in general - that wanting something completely out of my control would just lead to misery, so it was never on my list of things to do - also, as an only child, i'm not prone to needing company as much as someone with siblings may be - my own theory.

anyway, its almost 7 years later and i've been to a great deal more weddings - i have one upcoming in late summer - and one next spring... and the dating pool is decidedly more divorced - so I’ve been re-evaluating my own thoughts about marriage... i'm still pretty not into it - but i'm into the idea of an ongoing monogamous understanding with someone else... so where does an “understanding” end and a marriage begin? and how and when do you drop the bomb that that's your goal? so far, i find myself involved with others who also date outside the box - however, they tend to be much further outside the box than i am - which presents its own difficulties.
some got beat up by the box - so anything resembling the box is a problem.
some have extreme philosophical hatred of the box - so (see above)
and some simply refuse to admit the box exists.

would i do it? - maybe, but with less wedding and more anniversary parties. i've always thought that weddings are like having a graduation party when you get accepted to a college. it's a celebration of potential. but potential and expectation rarely play out as planned - so why not celebrate the proven success instead?

i think maybe not relying on marriage may actually make me a more high mantainance girl... with marriage, you can lean on the institution and get lazy - but without it, you have to be present with the other person. if you're not present or engaged (no pun intended) with the other person, and there's no contract to keep you together... well, you can easily have nothing.

but isn't it that gradual growing apart that leads to problems in marriage? - when passion turns to frustration and daily tasks take over the discovery of this other person. even when you logically know otherwise, there is an expectation that one person is going to sweep in and be your everything - and what a tremendous amount of pressure to put on another person, especially one that loves you.

anyway, sometimes i feel like i somehow missed the bus - but i'm not sure it's a bus i want to be on, but there is a legitimacy that it brings to your life, if only in the eyes of others. people congratulate you when they hear you got a masters degree but BOY do they light up when you tell them you're seeing someone with "potential"


Carol B. said...

Wow, this was a great post, Sarah. This whole "concept" of marriage is something that two of my friends (one married, one in a committed relationship; both with children) and I have been discussing at length for a while now. I waver back and for on what marriage means. Most of the time I feel like it's just a legality. Other times I feel like it offers this sense of committment and stability that nothing else compares to. Though I will say that my views now (older and wiser, ha!) are quite different from when I got married six years ago. Not really something for a blog comment, but if you're ever interested in a discussion, let me know!

sarah said...

i just purchased "mating in captivity" and can't wait to dive in... i think though, that outside things like kids and religion become additional parties to marriage. in a way that they sometimes trump the individuals in the marriage itself. time does that too. it grows beyond the couple at the top of the cake, and it can be good (bringing together a larger network of familes for support or helping to weather a particularly rough spot that would tear apart a non-married couple) or bad (giving up your own needs for the greater needs of the institution, staying in a bad relationship to remain in good standing with family or a church).

its endlessly interesting - as people are.