Friday, June 3, 2011

Til Death Do Us Part?

A general definition of marriage is that it is a social contract between two individuals that unites their lives legally, economically and emotionally.  I find it funny that in this day and age the definition of marriage has changed to encompass “traditional” (man and woman) and “non traditional” (man-man, woman-woman) and there is actually a Federal Marriage Act defining what is a legally binding union.  Whatever happened to 2 people meet, fall in love and decide to spend the rest of their lives together- united under God or whatever spiritual being guides your life? 

It sounds deceptively simple- but taking two individuals- who more than likely share common interests, but still have their own sense of self- put them together and all will be happiness and unicorns right? Wrong. Oh- for awhile- it is like that-the honeymoon phase- and how long that lasts is utterly dependent on the couple, their socio-economic status, temperaments, and all of the outside influences that surround them.  Add to that mix each person’s insecurities, fears, dreams, wants, needs, stress levels, careers and financial condition and you can have a recipe for disaster or you are precariously picking your way through a minefield , never really knowing what might trigger an explosion.
All marriages are different of course- as different as we all as human beings are. No marriage truly fits a mold, although many couples put on an impressive fa├žade to try to convince others that they are “The Perfect Couple”.  My mom used to call it “not airing our dirty laundry” something that in the age of Facebook, Twitter and all forms of social media is not only commonplace but thrived on by those who live for other’s pain. I am as guilty as anyone- I have “aired my dirty laundry” on more than one occasion. I have since learned to be more discreet but sometimes, in a fit of anger my Facebook status might reveal a little too much information- and that doesn’t sit well with MY spouse.  

No marriage is fail proof. The harder a couple works at a marriage- the more stable and everlasting it can be for sure- but what happens if you stop loving somebody?  Or they stop loving you? Or sickness makes a spouse resentful, or the stress of parenting is more than one spouse can handle, especially if we are talking special needs children. These are just a handful of examples of why marriages end- not even really scratching the surface.
But then there are the marriages that you hear about lasting 30,40,50+ years. Having been married for 13 years I can’t even fathom that amount of time- but I see it- in my spouses parents and grandparents and it amazes me, and makes me both hopeful and worried. I am not even close to the same person I was 13 years ago, mostly for the better- and raising an autistic child has surely put a shitload of stress on my marriage. That combined with many moves, loss of my mom, and a feeling of not reaching my full potential (yet) has stretched my marriage to its limits- or what I thought was its limits. I have been shocked at what the heart and soul can endure in the name of love.

Sometimes it takes more than one marriage to find the right fit- sometimes a marriage gone bad scares (and scars) a person for life. Marriage is not even a consideration for a lot of people. Whatever category you might fall in- one of these or one of the myriad of others I wish you well. It’s a scary, long, bumpy, rewarding, frightening, painful joyful road. And after having traveled it for this long- I think I will keep going .I’m curious as to what lies around the next corner.