Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Thoughts on Marriage and Divorce

So, Groooover is getting hitched to Muskrat Love lady Em Gillz and I am sooooooo happy for them and it's got me thinking about, talking about, dreaming about marriage and pairing off and why we do it and what it means in general. I was sitting in the office today talking with Grover and another friend, Jen, about marriage and divorce and choosing and sticking with it and the conversation moved to a discussion of how couples go about choosing to stay married once real life starts and later in an email Jen sent me this:

It just hit me...aren't your parents the ones who used the phrase "starter marriage"? I was just thinking about how you told Grover that once you get married that's it, there's just the one. Not that I don't agree with you on that though. But I was also thinking of the idea of "starter marriage" and realized that that's sort of what I had, it's just that the "starter marriage" where you make all the mistakes and the "real marriage" are to the same person for me, but really, we're different people from how we were when we first started going out or when we got married or even last year for that matter.

and I wrote back to said friend with the following:

My parents had "starter marriages" but they weren't intentional, and they definitely don't recommend it. Both relationships were emotionally abusive and they were good to leave (at least I'm glad they did, because if they hadn't, I wouldn't be here). My declaration that "once you get married, that's it" assumed a certain level of emotional readiness, preparation, and maturity on the part of the couple involved. And, it was actually more directed in response to Grover's comment about not wanting to know what else is out there, now that he'd found Emily. There is a myth, particularly in Mormon culture, that we each have a soul mate (i.e. that one person we are "supposed" to marry). Note that I said myth. The idea of sticking out a marriage reflects council I have heard about choosing a spouse--i.e. there are a lot of people in the world that we are compatible with, but that once we choose one and get married, they become "that one," meaning we should work through the challenges of marriage and not look outward when things get tough.

I have heard people say that a starter marriage is a good idea, but I think that's a load of garbage. Either marriage should be for good, or you shouldn't do it (abuse, crazy spouses, neglect, etc. aside). What you described about you and your husband is what I think every married couple that stays married must realize. i.e. we all change. Melissa and I are definitely not the same people we were seven years ago, and we would be miserable if we both lived with that expectation.

I like your idea of the "starter marriage," and "real marriage" being with the same person. I think Mel and I had that too. We "started" with perhaps an ambitious misconception about who we were and what we wanted, and as who we are changes, our "starter" marriage has revised itself into a more nuanced, interesting, fulfilling, if perhaps less idyllic, relationship. Maybe its like a "rough draft" marriage and a "final draft Marriage." Ooh, I like that. We don't throw out the rough draft and start over, we work on it, and polish it and change it, and let it take us where it wants to go.

Question: How does one submit a marriage for publication?



Emily said...

Yours is probably the 5th blog post I have read in the last 2 days about divorce/marriage/staying together.

Check this one out--it is pretty good:

For a very "Mormon" toned post, this one is good too:

Then there is this one that haunted me. At first I thought her style was over-the-top, but as I read on, and then checked out her personal blog, I was hooked. Wow. http://segullah.org/small-epiphanies/the-view-from-a-bridge/

Hot topic right now I guess. Is it Spring Time that brings it on?

Sarah said...

Two thumbs up; me likey. I have heard that the difference between married couples and divorced couples is not the number of problems the couple has, it's the way they handle the problem. In other words, people that get divorced (in general) don't have any more or any more serious problems than those who stay together - the ones who stay together just decide that they will weather the storms together, no matter what problems may arise.