Friday, April 20, 2007

On marriage and whatever my fingers tap out

I just finished reading Vickii's post and its on the age old issue of men cheating and women that stay. I was getting ready to leave a comment when i thought a post would do me good.

People that really know me would use certain words: hopeless romantic, eternal optimist, mother hen, compulsive worrier...to describe me. I have heard it said so many times that i have lost count, that my husband will be so lucky blah blah blah.

It will therefore come as a shock (not a little shock. Think atomic bomb shock) for those people to hear that there is a part of me that doesnt believe in the insitution of marriage anymore. Granted its like 10% of me. But considering that its me, that is huge.

What is marriage anyway?

There is the wedding when people get all loud and gregarious and an obscene amount of money is spent under the pretext of celebrating with you. Okay i get that part and as a part time wedding planner, i understand that people think this is a big deal.

So there are vows of fidelity right? Then there is having a family right? Taking his last name? Sharing all you have? Living with this person? Growing old together? Love? Being each other's support system? The certificate/license?

DO YOU HAVE TO BE MARRIED TO HAVE ALL THIS?

I am a christian and its no secret that i strive for spiritual guidance rather than being religious. I am very aware that the bible urges husbands to cleave to their wives and for wives to cleave to their husbands. That he who finds a wife finds a good thing. And of course the much quoted Corinthians chapter on love. And there is the issue of God sanctifying the union. I get that.

Let me be really radical and dare to say:
  • The words husband/wife are man made so to me, they are just words/titles
  • I believe that God is everywhere so if the person i choose to be my partner and i sit in a room in his house and say some vows to each other and pray after, shouldnt that be enough. I dont believe that a representative of God has to be present to seal a "union". I am not one of those people that live and die by the words of pastors/preachers. I believe that Church and men/women of God help to give direction, clarify and teach. But i do not believe that they have to pray for me in order for God to answer my prayers, or that i have to seek their counsel at every step of my life. I believe that as long as i can think, my lips can move i can cry out to my God and his son Jesus who he sacrificed for me, he will hear me. So what does the presence of a minister at a wedding really really do?
  • I believe that a piece of paper or an elaborate ceremony does not get fidelity and commitment. I am sure we all know marriages that are just disasters.
  • Why cant i and the partner of my choice decide to have kids together, live together and be a family together without getting married? Taking his last name is a matter of choice. I am old school and that would be a no-brainer for me BUT what does it matter? Taking his last name means you belong to him. The kids can have hyphenated last names. Living together can be worked out - who pays for what. In some countries, being married ensures some support if it fails but why cant both parties have their own money and have joint funds for "together" stuff? If the relationship ends, money wont be an issue. Besides, around the world, married couples hide assets from each other. Also, i know that being married and then getting divorced doesnt mean a woman will get anything. If the man is intent on being really mean, she will suffer. That's the truth.
  • Relationships that lead to talks about forever after are as a result of both parties making the CHOICE to forsake all others and spend the rest of their lives together. If their hearts are true and they remain truly committed to each other, the presence or absence of a marriage certificate means nothing. If they are together and do everything together, then the association is known. The world (if that's what you care about) will know the 2 of you are together. People wont be able to put a label on you but they will know you are together
  • Being married does not mean that men and women will not make moves on you in an attempt to make you break your vows. Its weakness of character that leads to infidelity. Can happen married or not
  • Being married does not mean that your man wont decide to throw you out and treat you like crap and end up with another woman. Its his choice
  • If you are not married and your partner cheats, if you are truly committed and in love, the choice of leaving him will be as hard as if you were married. I say this because, the ties that bind you to another person are not man made and have nothing to do with paper. Its a spiritual thing and it is complicated married or not

I could go on and on but the point i am making is that the way we treat each other: hurting each other, cheating on partners, taking hearts and breaking them, treating your lover shabbiliy, belittling them, physically or verbally abusing them have nothing to do with marriage. These are all character flaws, weaknesses that will manifest regardless of status. Some of these traits can change or alter based on your feelings for the other person.

When you are with someone, i believe you want to be better for that person, to live up to their expectiations, to be their world, the reason for their smile, their happiness....this does not change marriage or not.

I am not making a case for marriage or choosing partnership instead. I know myself well enough to say that i am up for marriage. I just dont think/see how the institution of marriage will prevent a lot of mistreatment meted out and being faced by partners.

9 comments:

omohemi Benson said...

1st!

omohemi Benson said...

Nice post and very true.
Marriage is not the gurantee for anything, it depends solely on the individual.

the ties that bind you to another person are not man made and have nothing to do with paper. Its a spiritual thing and it is complicated married or not
This is so true, if people understood this there wil less divorces.

This is Nigeria,some of ideas may not work or be agreed with here.

Thanks for this post.

Daddy's Girl said...

Interesting piece. I agree that marriage doesn't prevent harm or hurt caused by one partner to another. I agree that marital vows are not necessarily a signifier of commitment or love or unity or selflessness or maturity or financial independence or anything at all... people get married for different reasons and under circumstances, and not all of those reasons or circumstances are ideal or even right.

But for me those facts are totally dependent on the parties involved, and they do not take anything away from, or have any implications for or reflections on, marriage as an institution. I believe in marriage purely as a divine ordination, one that has its roots not in the bond between Adam and Eve, but in the bond between God and me. I don't think marriage has anything to do with weddings or churches, it has everything to do with sacrament and spirituality.

Marriage is not (or should not be) about getting a form of guarantee or security against pain or infidelity or financial lack. I don't believe it's actually about getting anything. For me it is something much deeper, a spiritual bond and a replica of the communion that exists between God and His created. It's about willing and joyous sacrifice (most of all), it's about trust, acceptance, faith, giving and building on both sides. And although we've done our best to make a royal mess of the institution these days, when I see a really good marriage (not a frequent occurrence, sadly) I'm still reminded of how beautiful and unfathomable and spiritual this institution truly is. It's a step I'm not sure I'll ever take, but I have tremendous respect for it.

Whoops. Sorry for the long comment. This is really an interesting and thought-provoking post.

Soul said...

I have nothing more to addd to this...
Excellent!.
Excellent.

LondonBuki said...

There are many reasons why I love you Uzo... this post is on point.

I have chosen not to write about my views on marriage on my blog because I will never finish.

DG, very good comment!!!

Like Soul said, everything has been said.

Chasing Diego said...

I never claim to have the answers when it comes to matters of the heart, love or marriage. I think I'm still trying to figure it out. I do believe in the institution of marriage... that much I know. It then becomes about what people's individual definitions of marriage are and what they believe constitutes a marriage.

BabsBETA said...

Uzo, you are great. Sorry I meant GREAT! Just read the comments on Vickii's post and now this. So clear.

I so agree with this the ties that bind you to another person are not man made and have nothing to do with paper. Its a spiritual thing and it is complicated married or not.

I still believe in the institution of marriage, what I dont believe in is the notion that everyone must get married. Even in the bible, Paul said it isn't a must to get married. But I still believe in the institution of marriage.

Some marriages have failed but not the institution.

Uzo, you RAWK!

Vickii said...

Uzo! You don't do things by halves do you? Now you've got me thinking and my brain hurts.

I didn't believe in marriage for a long time because I felt that it was too much to ask too people to love each other and stay together 'no matter what'. When we envision worst case scenarios, it's usually infidelity but what happens if say children die or you lose your home for whatever reason ... there are some situations that I felt that would put a couple under so much pressure that even God would understand why they couldn't make it work. Now I choose to believe in marriage but it's more out of faith than any sort of logical deduction that marriage makes sense and can in fact work.

I completely understand your point that a couple don't have to have a minister and a party for it to be considered a marriage in the eyes of God. However, I do think ceremonies have been bourne out of a practical understanding of human nature. As humans, we're more likely to commit to something, or see something through if we have to answer to something bigger than ourselves. Especially in a relationship situation, where there are times where the best thing for you appears to leave your partner, and times where you don't even like them enough to care about the committment you make to them. I have heard a lot of couples say that the only reason they got through difficult times is the fact that they'd made a committment to God/the State. The statistics also show that while the number of marriages that end up in divorce is rising, the percentage of co-habiting couples that split up is much higher. I hope this makes sense!

Great post Uzo!

akin aworan said...

Very insightful read, Uzo. Thanks for sharing.