Today I found out (through Facebook of all places) that my cousin is getting a divorce. He will be the sixth cousin of mine to do so. I feel bad, because judging by his post, it wasn’t a decision he made, nor one he is taking lightly. I don’t know the reasons behind it, I don’t know how long there has been trouble in their marriage, but I do know that it made me think. A lot.
Hypothetically, marriage is an outdated institution in my opinion. It used to be that people got married because men worked and women didn’t. Men needed someone to care for their home and bear their children. Women needed financial support and a place to live. It was only recently that love became the basis of marriage. Let’s keep in mind that I am considering “legal” marriage here, not religious marriages. Generally religious marriages are also legal marriages, but religious marriage brings up a whole different perspective than what I am going into here. I am referring to the idea of sharing your assets, home, and lives, not fulfilling a religious obligation or desire. Love being the basis for legal marriage is silly. “I love you, so I want to make you entitled to half of my things,” sounds strange when you put it that way, but let’s be real, that’s what it is.
Regardless of what marriage is and how it is essentially useless, it still bothers me that people can’t commit to someone. I wholeheartedly understand that there are cases where people really truly change and the situation isn’t good for both parties anymore. I would never condone staying in an abusive or adulterous relationship. The problem for me lies in the fact that so many people are willing to just throw their relationships to the curb.
In the cases of abuse and adultery, it blows my mind that people are so willing to hurt one another. If you can’t be in a relationship without kicking someone’s ass, by all means please do us all a favor and remove yourself from the dating pool. If a certain person brings out that kind of anger in you, please walk away, stay away, and never come back. A relationship like that should never lead to marriage in the first place, but if it does and the abuse shows up later, I suppose I can give you a free pass for ending things. As far as adultery goes, GROW THE FUCK UP! Excuse me, but seriously. If you are in a relationship, keep it in your pants. Keep the disease rates down, and lower your risk of producing unwanted children, please. Being in a relationship means you have committed to a person, and if you can’t do that, then GTFO. If you want to be with someone else, or you fear that you can’t commit to a person, then don’t get into that relationship. Certainly don’t get married and put documentation on it. And don’t tell me it just happened, or you slipped and fell on a penis/vagina, or you just couldn’t help yourself, or any other stupid excuse. Get your life together, you are an adult. Want to fool around with someone else and can’t contain it? Don’t make commitments to people that you can’t keep. If you are married and cheat, and then want to say how you didn’t want to ruin your marriage, spare me! Yeah, I mean we’re totally committed to each other and you just told me you slept with your co-worker. Awesome, hope you had a great time! (Insert eye roll here). If there is any point that you think that is going to be cool, you should just be ashamed of yourself.
So now that we got that out of the way, let’s get down to business. You decide to get married, why? Is it the insurance benefits, the tax breaks, the limited paperwork when it comes to healthcare and legal decisions? Or is it because you are “so in love”? Or maybe it’s for religious reasons, and as I said, I’m not discussing that particular situation here. Maybe it’s because one of you is pregnant and it’s the “right thing to do.”
So let’s start with benefits. Sure, if you have been with someone for a while, it may seem like the positive next step to get married. I mean maybe you are sharing a home or helping each other with bills, so why not get a little tax break and cheaper insurance. That’s great, but if you really don’t intend on making it work for the long haul, the amount you are likely going to pay out in divorce is probably going to be way more than you are going to save. Now with domestic partner laws, if you are living with someone for long enough, you can get a lot of the benefits with a much easier way out if necessary. If you really don’t think you can deal with the person for life, that might be a better way to go. Worried about healthcare and legal decisions? Fill out a living will/healthcare power of attorney and a will. You can designate whomever you want for that.
You’re in love. That’s freaking wonderful. Last I checked, I didn’t need a piece of paper to say that. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my man so much that it kind of makes me giddy to think that someday I could wear a pretty little ring, and have a nice party, and take his last name. It’s cute. I like it. And maybe I’ll do it someday because honestly I have no issue with commitment, and provided you aren’t hitting me or cheating on me, I’d bet we can work things out if you’re willing. But if the only reason that you want to put that name on paper is because you are in love, you are out of your mind. Do you realize that you are now taking on that person’s debts? You are responsible for this person and they are responsible for you. Are you sure you are ready for that? If not, you might want to step back. Even if you think you are ready, you should still probably step back and check yourself. Everything seem in order? Go ahead and proceed.
You’re having a baby and just can’t seem to wrap your head around doing that without being married. Well, you probably should have considered that before you had sex. Trust me, if you get married just because of the kid, and then decide it’s not going to work out, there’s going to be a big custody battle, and it’s not going to just involve the kid, but your other assets too, which could mean your child losing the home they are used to, having less money for essentials, and all sorts of other problems. If you get pregnant and things are working fine the way they are, just be co-parents. At least that way if something happens, it can be an easier split. Maybe, if you are both civilized adults, you might not even have to get the courts involved. Settle things like grown-ups and the kid is going to be better off than if he lived with a bitter ass married couple until they physically couldn’t stand each other anymore. And if you absolutely can’t picture yourself having kids before you’re married, keep your parts in your pants, or at least use multiple forms of birth control.
It bothers me enough that people are so quick to throw out a good relationship. It really bothers me when two people take the time, money, and effort to make it official on paper and then still can’t make it work. I understand that sometimes people just grow in different ways and situations arise that cause people not to be able to thrive together. I get it, but I have to ask how many ways these couples have tried to make things work. Do they even want things to work? I hear so many people just give up and say they don’t want to have to work at it or they don’t want to have to try so hard. What do you think a relationship is going to be? You are two different people with different backgrounds, of course you are going to have to try and communicate to make things work. When you decide to bring paper into it and get married, you should be willing to do everything you can to make that work; both of you! If you don’t have that kind of commitment just stop. It breaks my heart to see people break up, especially after years together.
Relationships have gotten to a point where I wonder why people even bother. No one “needs” anyone anymore. It is great that people are so independent but the problem is that they are not. The same people who can’t make a relationship work because they don’t want to deal with it are the ones who have to jump into bed with everyone they meet because they can’t stand to be alone. If you want to go out and be promiscuous, that is totally fine, just don’t do it under the pretense that you “love” someone else. Don’t hurt someone like that! No one drives you to cheat. Drives you to leave, maybe, but not cheat. That’s a decision you make on your own.
The truth is as much as we don’t want to lean on anyone, most of us really do want someone to be there for us. While relationships can get “boring” after a while, it is important to find ways to increase the excitement instead of just walking away. If you can’t fix the situation you are in, you are always going to find yourself running. Nothing will ever be enough. At some point it’s ok to be content with boring. I love knowing I can come home and take my pants off and not be judged. I love being able to wake up in the morning and throw on a pair of sweat pants without worrying about what my man is going to think. I like being able to come home and know he’s going to be there waiting for me. Sometimes I do wish there was more excitement, but when that is the case, I try to talk to my man. I find ideas of fun things we can do together. Sometimes I go out with my best friend and have a good time, but having a good time doesn’t involve finding someone else’s penis in me. I can go out and have a few drinks or visit a museum, or take a road trip and come back home.
I just wish that things weren’t so disposable these days. Our products are disposable, and so are our people. If this is the way our evolution is going, I’m not sure I want to be a part of it. I don’t need marriage to make a commitment to my partner, I’m going to make that commitment anyway. And I’m going to work. I’m going to work hard to make that relationship work, and I have to believe that my partner will do the same. I don’t like to commit to a real relationship if I don’t think the other person has the same intentions. I’m not talking about the little high school relationships people have in the beginning of their dating lives, but the real adult relationships we get in later. As we grow older we should be able to distinguish a person we share a genuine companionship with from someone who is simply fun or hot. There are a lot of factors that go into someone you are going to be with for a while, so a little bit of critical thinking can go a long way.
Unfortunately it seems like critical thinking has started to go the way of common sense: almost non-existent. Can we please just try to do better as human beings? If we are going to make commitments to one another, let’s do our best to honor them. If you have no intention of honoring them, just don’t. You’re breaking my heart out here.