I do. These two little words, only three letters in total, are the beginning of the end of millions of lives as were once known. As I write this I am not sure that marriage between any genders is a good thing. I can’t say that it is a bad thing as well. Maybe that is the beauty of marriage to another completely autonomous individual, in that what seems to be, rarely is, and it is hard to get a handle on the outcome of the whole thing. For two people, with completely different brains, that think in completely different ways, to join together and work as a unit to conquer this thing called life sounds good in theory, however in reality it proves illusive. One has to wonder whether a lifelong contract is really the best we can do, and even whether it is conducive to the pursuit of happiness. One can enter that contract at eighteen years of age, which when my fifty year old mind considers the state of my eighteen year old mind, I can’t help but think this is nuts as a society to allow this to continue. Yet I do not believe that an infinite number of breaths taken as a single person could prepare you for what marriage brings to the table.
Socrates is credited with the statement “By all means, marry, if you get a good wife, you’ll become happy; if you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher”. I once took solace in this quote, as I thought it fitting, and the older I get the more philosophical I become. However, and quite strangely as I become more philosophical, I am beginning to see the bad wife was paired with a bad husband. While she certainly did not make it easy to be the head of the household, I failed to take the position of authority the right way. A strong woman needs a strong man, and I haven’t exactly lived up to that. I came into this with a lot of mixed signals from society, like the man is the head of the house, the two become one, it’s about compromise, and so on. I don’t care how much you pray, the two do not become one. The man is not the head of the house if she doesn’t see it that way, and if you compromise with the devil, get ready for hell.
The two become one is a phrase taken from the Bible. The Bible is supposed to be God’s book to us so that we may know how to live this life properly. We are supposed to pray to God for strength and guidance, and whatever else we think we want. The problem comes when over and over the prayers go unanswered. It seems the phone is off the hook up there. We are told to just lay it all at the feet of Jesus and have faith that whatever happens is the will of God. Been there, done that, and the two did not become one. I am talking over a span of years; plenty of time for Him to change us into a marital force heading in perfect harmony to a glorious life. No busy signal, no click, no dial tone.
The submissive wife. The perfect little angel who follows unquestioning her husband through life, for better or worse. Sort of sounds like what’s expected in the middle east doesn’t it. The man is the head of the house also comes from the Bible, which was written in the middle east by the way, and again it does not work to try to pray your wife into submission, or for that matter even into cooperation.
Ayn Rand wrote “There are two sides to every issue: One side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil.”. If one wants to save money and live within their means, and the other wishes not to be bound by the limits of their income, and make full use of our inglorious credit system, where is the compromise? There is right and wrong, and when right compromises, in the long run the whole family suffers.
The murkiness of marital dynamics between two individuals coming into it with diverse characteristics, with no deadline, bound for life, with no real training or practical instruction beyond what they picked up from their parents marriage, which fell somewhere between miserable and blissful, can not help but be a breeding ground for adversity. That is the one thing marriage brings with it that might just make it worth it; adversity. Napoleon Hill said “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit”. How often do sports teams fall just short of reaching the championship this season, only to win it all next season. They always say that while getting so close and losing was horrible, it had to happen to make them strong enough to win the next year. And always they say, it was worth it. Adversity is possibly the best teacher, leaving the student who perseveres with a full understanding of the lesson. It is one thing to learn a lesson, but quite another to understand it.
I would posit that marriages are like wealth in that a very small percentage reach greatness, some are good, some are mediocre, and some are poor. By sheer percentages the odds are that yours could be better, and I know mine could. Adversity abounds in ours as though it is the third member of our marital trinity. This is not the type of threesome anyone wishes for, unless you are some weird masochist, which I am not. It has been rough, but it lately is getting better. I have started to become the change I want to see. I no longer try to compromise when it comes to what I see is a matter of right and wrong. I no longer think that we have to stay together for better or worse. Possibly most importantly, I am focusing on me. We didn’t pick up a plant based diet, I did, for me. We aren’t trying to become more than we are, I am, for me. I no longer care whether she approves of my “weird” thoughts, words or actions, so long as they are positive, to me. I also now notice that by and large, she does approve, is becoming more than she is, and I think she’s doing it, for her.
The key here was realizing that we have not become one, are not one, nor are we ever going to be one. We are both individuals who came into this world alone, and will leave it alone. The part in the middle, this life, we certainly benefit from cooperation but ultimately need to be responsible for ourselves. One person cannot morally be held responsible for the actions of another. It’s just not right. We all know from a young age what is right, and what is wrong. It seems to get gray as we get older for some reason, but that inner knowing is still there, if we tune into our conscience and pay attention to our thoughts, and open our eyes to reality in the end if we do the right thing, good things happen. We all respect people who do the right thing, and this is actually how we earn other’s respect, especially that of our spouse.
A year ago I would have told you that just like any other license, like perhaps a driver’s license, a marriage license should have an expiration date. Both parties would have to agree to renew it to keep it valid from time to time. If you bring children into the world, nature herself would tell you that you both have a responsibility to take care of them til they can fend for themselves. By today’s standards you just moved the expiration date out eighteen years. That would be doing the right thing. Call it pay to play if you will. But beyond children, two adults could be free to let the license expire if they feel it would be for the best, and there is some evidence this might be good. A year ago I would have let it expire, but then I would have missed out on the chance to become a better man and husband. Like I said, it is better now, but I can’t say that if the expiration date was next month, what I, or her, would choose. A one year renewal perhaps, I would give it that, but the thought of a ten year renewal well, let’s just say that neither of us wants another ten like the last ten. Is that weird?
I once heard investment advice on when to sell or keep a stock. If you did not currently own that stock, would you buy it at it’s current price right now? If the answer is yes then keep it; if it is no then it is time to sell. I have often wondered if this would not also apply to marriage. If you were not currently married to your spouse, would you say “I do” now?
By for now weirdos