Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Question, In All Seriousness

My sister Umulu sent me and another glamorous single friend of ours the following email this morning:

Per Gail Collins in today's New York Times: “Single women comprise between 43 percent and 51 percent of the adult women in the country, depending on how you count.”

We are doomed.

My initial response to such depressing news is to buy a dilapidated house with a sagging front porch and begin collecting cats. I am one of many, and my chances look dim. On the other hand, I'm only 30, (all right, I'll be 31 in a very short few days, but who's counting) and while I know women have this whole biological clock thing to worry about, I'm entirely open to adoption, and not entirely enthusiastic about the process of squeezing something the size of a basketball out of a hole the size of a marble. Plus, as my mother informed me last Christmas, one does not need to be married in order to have babies. (Captain Mommypants is a minister, by the way. A woman of God. After decades of telling me to save it for marriage, you could've scraped me off the floor with a spatula after she told me to go ahead and start reproducing as a singleton.) So let's take my child-bearing shelf-life off the table for the moment, and just focus on this marriage thing.

Do I really want it? I mean, for the longest time I assumed, as does almost every little girl, that I would find somebody. Do I want to get married? Sure! Who doesn't? In fact, I thought I would marry at 24, have my three children at ages 26, 28, and 30, and ta-daaa! That was the plan I wrote in my journal when i was 14. I'm pretty sure the next step was to become the president. Or a movie star. Now, however, I wonder whether that's even something I want. Not the movie star thing, the marriage thing. Duh. Who doesn't want to be a movie star?

I guess what I've been pondering is what marriage means to me. Is it a religious sacrament? A civil contract? What does it mean to say you're married to somebody, versus just in a relationship? I guess there are some nice tax breaks, and I know my mother would luuuuuurrve to officiate a marriage ceremony for one of her children. Plus, you get some nice presents, and lord knows I could use a new blender, not to mention a knife set. But I'm not particularly religious, so what would it mean to promise God or the government to stay with somebody until death do us part? Plus, from what I hear, marriage is seriously stressful. It must have it's charming parts as well, or why else would people do it, but I can't quite see past the big white dress to understand what those perks might be.

Then I look at my life, at how I live, and I wonder whether this marriage thing should really be a goal, as it has been for so long. I like my life. I like my lifestyle. I love my family and my friends, I like the freedom I have. I think I'd like to have a man to be my special partner, my buddy, the person who always stands by me, but I suspect I may have read too many romance novels to tell whether that's a realistic goal. Of course, I'm so single I could be a file (hehe. get it? single file. hehe. god i'm funny), so this exercise is purely academic right now, and by no means am I saying I don't want to get married; I guess I'm just thinking things over.

So what do you say, married folk out there. Is it worth it? What's it like?


Matter Of Fact Mommy said...

you are a freaking CORNBALL with the single file thing, but i TOTALLY lol'd before you explained it. ahem.

anyhoo, re: marriage. ugh. seriously, i am NOT the one to ask this. i am the bridesmaid who told the bride "don't do it" at the engagement party. (hey, i had already been married for 7 years!) i love my husband and i love that we are partners and that he is a father to his children (sometimes).

but the marriage thing - the piece of paper, the promise to god or whomever, the CONTRACT - i didn't need that. and based on what i know of you, you don't either.

Kate said...

I think that marriage was absolutely the most wonderful thing I have ever done. Some people are able to make a serious, life-long commitment without the ceremony or the piece of paper, but doing those things was a symbol for me. I truly believe that marriage is no longer what it used to be, it just isn't taken seriously anymore. And those of us who have taken it seriously get mocked. I don't think that marriage is for everyone, and I don't have a problem with people not wanting to get married but wanting to be together. Don't want to make that kind of outward commitment? Fine, don't, not a problem. Just don't look at marriage like, "Well, if it doesn't work out we can always get divorced." If you go into with that attitude, it will fail. It isn't something that you should feel lukewarm about. If marriage is in your future, you will probably have no doubt in your mind that is what you should do. At least that is what happened to me.

I finally realized who I was when I met my husband. I finally felt comfortable in my own skin. We didn't have that first year of adjustment, things were just *right*. I am very fortunate to have had that experience.

Only you know what is right for you. Only you can prevent forest fires.

Alison in TX said...

Ah, to marry or not to marry...There's another side of this question, that I never used to think about: "Is it fair to marry when many other couples who truly love each other are not allowed to by law?"

If I wanted to marry a same-sex partner, I could only do so in MA or CT and even then, I wouldn't be eligible for the many federal privileges and benefits that a federally recognized marriage brings...

Is it fair for me to marry and get these privileges, when so many can't? Besides the answer, "No, it's not fair" I know that I might get married anyway, but this is something I feel I have to explore more closely before I go forward (or don't) with marriage.

Alison in TX said...

P.S. I know many folks many not agree with me on the above and I'm not trying to convince anyone to change their beliefs on this matter, just stating how I see it.

PrincessPi said...

You know, I'm not married, so I'm not technically qualified to answer this question, but I have been in a committed relationship for the past five years. Yes, we eventually want to get married. Why, though? Not because of the tax breaks, or the presents (we don't plan on having a big wedding...we plan on eloping in Vegas). Sociatal pressure? Maybe. Relationships are stressful in and of themselves, especially when you've been together as long as we have. I don't know that marriage changes that, although maybe it makes people think they don't have to be as nice to their partner since they're contractually bound to one another.

Anyhoo...maybe because since he's my family, I want to officially be recognized as family.

Or maybe it's just that I want a legal contract saying that I own him and that he can't get away without unloaded at least half his assets on me.

Bwah ha ha.

ChristopherPaul said...

This is a personal opinion but I think when a man is ready and able to have a companion in his life he should marry. Marriage being a bond between a man and a woman constituted by God himself given to the first man and woman to be carried on by us today till death do us part. However, my opinion is just that, my personal opinion. I do not judge others for what they believe. To me being married is about being willing to accept another life into your own. Then possibly creating more of your own to continue that beautiful process of giving and accepting. That being said, married life is a beginning to what should be holy, happy and fulfilling.

Cheasty said...

wow, that's quite an assortment of opinion. thanks everybody for chiming in and giving me more food for thought.

i thought i might mention as an aside that my parents are still married and have a very solid relationship, so I've got that going for me, which is nice. (name that movie!) it's just always good to get some outside opinions, is all.

Jennoit said...

Well. I could go on about this at length, but let me try and keep it short(ish).

1. I am happily married.
2. I actually think marriage is an outdated institution that is entirely uncessary in the modern world. I also think that marriage has been a bad deal for women in the past (you know, the owned by father passed on to husband stuff).
3. However, if you want to be in a committed long-term, forever relationship and you don't want to get married, then I think it's important to figure out how to make that work for you and how to get through the bad times. I mean, you have to get through them when you are a married person too, but thre is an aspect of the "contractual" that I think, in marriage, can make that relationship stronger. Not better, just stronger.
4. So if you do want to get married but you're concerned about some of the historical stuff (like I was) then you need to figure out how to define what marriage will be for you.

For me, I am an atheist, so marriage was not about religious belief. It was more about public commitment to each other and commitment in front of family. It was also a lot of fun (and I didn't even do the white puffy dress). And you can see, in one of my recent blog posts, that my husband is still pretty much the most important thing in my life.

You're young. You'll figure it out.

Matter Of Fact Mommy said...

that movie is caddyshack.

i really enjoyed reading everyone's opinions on this!

Cheasty said...

ding, ding, ding! first prize to mofm!

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