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April 06, 2004 - Tuesday, 10:15 p.m.

When did marriage become optional?

When was it that our society shifted from people getting married young to people not getting around to marriage for years or perhaps never?!? Perhaps it's just a side effect of esculating divorce rates. It's really very odd and just seems to make things harder for those of us who'd prefer to get married. It seems to me that my generation was the beginning of this trend. I was surprized at my 10 year reunion at how many people I graduated with had not yet married. It wasn't that they were divorcing, but that they were just waiting to get married. I am sure that the losening of the norms in our society makes not getting married an easy option. Once upon a time serious, intimate relationships really only came about within the bounds of marriage. It wasn't acceptable to just sleep with anyone you wanted whenever you wanted, move in with them, and basically set up house with anyone and change as often as the whim struck you. But nowadays it is totally acceptable to move from boyfriend to boyfriend (or girlfriend to girlfriend) in the very literal sense. People enter into 'marriage' type relationships with great ease and little thought for the future. Why bother getting married at all? If you tire of the guy you are with you just 'break up' with him and pick another partner. Everything is a 'no strings attached' type thing. Heck, it's easy, you don't even have to move in with the person. You can completely live your own life, do whatever you want, and then when you get a little 'itch' you just go sleep with your 'friend' and viola problem solved. The axiom of "why pay for the cow if the milk is free" is so very true.

Do you realize how hard it is to live in a world like the one I just described if you DO believe in marriage? If you think the ultimate expression of a close and loving relationship is marriage? If, by some chance, you believe that sex and marriage go hand in hand - and that without marriage there is no sex? I'll tell you how hard it is. It totally and completely sucks. It is almost impossible to find a person that sees physical intimacy as solely a part of marriage. You might find some among the 'never been married group', though very few. However when you get into my age range it is almost impossible. And if you've been married before (like I have been) the people you meet don't seem to understand why you would continue to hold on to the pairing of sex and marriage. It's like they totally don't get it.

Being pro-marriage, like I am, I find it hard to understand why people would want to stay in the 'dating' mode for 5 to 10 years. That seems insane to me, however I guess if you are getting all the intimacy you want, why would you care? Marriage is so much more then just 'sex' and I guess that is what I don't get. Marriage is a partnership. It's a working together on goals, it's being together and doing things together, it's dreaming together and making strides towards those dreams. It's also the foundation of family. I realize that our society is filled with single parent families and huge amounts of women chose to have children without husbands. But still I believe that marriage is the foundation of the family. I think that children NEED and should have two parents. Parents that love each other and their children. I think kids do better with two parents. I think that should be the goal. It should be the PLAN. That said, one would wonder why after over ten years of being a single parent I never married. Do I think that my kids would have been better off with two parents? Yes.

Why didn't I remarry? I think it's back to the original problem. I've found it almost impossible to find someone that 'believes' in marriage. They are perfectly happy to signup for the 'free milk', but they want to be free to do what they want. So not being a person that hands out the 'milk' these guys just moved on to where the 'milk is free'.

What's up with that? I just don't get it. I really don't. You know, the big things that I wish for and worry about is not having someone to 'sleep' with. It's so much bigger then that. You know, I don't want to go through the loss of my parents without a spouse. I don't want to go through all the worries and wonders in life by myself. That's the stuff I think about. I want someone to celebrate life with. Someone to dream with, to strive towards goals with, some one that is there when the road is rough and when it's smooth sailing. Someone to curl up with and talk about the wonders of everyday life, the beauty of a sunset, the first smile of a grandchild. What's up with a world where people don't care or think aboub that stuff? Having a partner is closer then extended family or friends. I can share alot with my family or my friends, but it is the step beyond that which is missing. Bottom line is that each of my siblings have their OWN families that they are concentrating on and their own life goals. My children, they will have their own life goals that won't include me on an everyday basis and I am very, very close to that day. I am not included on ANYone's everyday basis... THAT's what I miss. That daily investment. I am not part of anyone's everyday life... That is the difference. You are an integral part of your child's life until they grow up and embark on their own life. Only your spouse is part of your everyday life forever. That's what I'd like to have. I love having time to myself and I know that at the basic level we all go on the journey that is our life alone, however, if you are lucky there is that one person that shares that journey with you the closest, your spouse, the next layer is your family and the layer after that is friends.

Unlike most of the people I run into I have parents that love each other very much. And I see that they are on that journey together. They are always there for the other. They support and love each other and yet they operate independently on many levels. Additionally I have siblings who have wonderful marriages. If there is such thing as 'twin flames' in the realm of marriage, I am surrounded by people in that type of relationships. I realize that most people don't see those kind of marriages often. But most of the people so very close to me have just those kind of marriages.

Why am I thinking about this stuff? You know I see people in these long term relationships (likes 5 to 10 years) some live with each other and some don't and in my mind I think if they don't love each other enough to get married, why do they bother to stay together? Are they just waiting for someone better to come along? Why don't they get married? What the hell are they waiting for? I really don't understand it. I had a friend try to explain to me that many people don't 'believe' in marriage. What? They believe in everything except the commitment? That just seems stupid to me. She tried to explain it to me, I can't even remember the argument any more, because it didn't make sense. Why would you have a 'girlfriend' or 'boyfriend' that wasn't really a part of your life? Someone you just see now and then? Why bother with that? The things I want out of a relationship is ongoing companionship... ::SCREAMS::

Well... I was hoping to purge statistics from my brain and this line of thought certainly did that for me. Though I got no answers on this quandry from the exercise of writing it all out. I'd really hoped that all the pondering would help me to understand that which I seem not to be grasping.

I guess I'll just go on believing in marriage even if I end up a little old lady all by myself at the end of my life.

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