Thursday, 11 April 2013

Ramblings on Marriage

The following is my view on marriage, and it is far from universal. I have only one marriage on which to draw from, so I should be in no way considered an expert in the field.

There's a lot of talk about marriage in the media, social media, and even from the pesky Jehova's Witnesses who like to sprinkle magical thinking all over my doorstep every other week. So I thought, "I'm married, I'm opinionated, I have a blog" and as if by magic, my spleen vented itself onto this blog post...

It took several minutes of searching
to find my wedding band.
Athena and I have a strong marriage. It is often commented upon by friends and family, with one memorable comment being: "if you guys ever divorced, I don't know what I'd believe in anymore."

Athena and I are together because we want to be, not because we have to be. I often say that if we had our time over again, we wouldn't get married.

But we would still be together.

The strength of our marriage is an illusion. It is our relationship that is strong.

The little piece of paper signed by God has no bearing on our relationship. We are together because we want to be, and I wouldn't want it any other way.

If, for whatever reason, Athena wanted to call it a day, I would be devastated, but I wouldn't stand in her way or defy her will. She is a fully realised and autonomous person. I respect her agency and sovereignty and wouldn't want her to be forced to stay by using a marriage certificate like a gun to her head. I don't own her and I have no right to think of her as my property.

It hasn't escaped my attention that people in relationships think they own their partner, particularly their wives. As you may (or may not) be aware, marriage has traditionally been a property transaction, where the woman is the product being traded. In Western countries this is progressively improving, but poorer countries still arrange marriages, dowries are paid, and "faulty" wives are returned for refunds, or worse, killed.

I have read a lot of bloggers and news commentators decrying divorce. I can see how divorce is actually better for all marriages.

Traditionally a woman couldn't divorce her husband. With no incentive to be a better husband, many men were the worst of husbands and the their poor wives had to grin and bear it. With the introduction of unilateral divorce, these women are able to escape the bonds of a bad marriage. And husbands are made to be better husbands as a result. Studies have shown significant reductions in female suicide, domestic violence and overall divorce rates since no-fault divorces were introduced.

Obviously the legal side of marriage affords protections to each partner. While I may be talking marriage down, there are many people are being denied simple rights and dignities that most of us take for granted. This is to our collective shame.

I don't see Athena as property because I respect her as a person. Quite often, people stop seeing their spouse as a real-life, independent human being with wants and needs, goals and ideals, hopes and dreams. Never lose the ability to see your spouse as an individual.

In line with this individuality, don't insist that you must know the innermost thoughts and feelings of your spouse. Give them the space to be their own person, to hold a little part of themselves back and know that this space is respected.

I haven't worn my wedding band for the past 14 years, in fact, I don't even know where it is. In some circles, this sends arms flailing and chins wagging. The ring is a relic, it isn't the relationship. By not wearing it, our relationship is still the same as it always was; taking it off changes nothing, a piece of paper changes nothing.

The wedding, the certificates, rings and paraphernalia are just showy gloss covering the real work of art. If pieces are crumbling from the statue, no amount of varnish will save it.

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2 comments:

  1. hey onesleepydad. I love your blog. Keep it up. Following you now!

    dailysomersault.com

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  2. restraining self from writing replies to each blog entry...
    Go you!! :D
    My husband and I have been together 10 years and we don't wear our rings regularly.
    Most of the time my husband didn't know where his was a large percent of the time until we moved into our new house and no one has moved it from the window sill in the kitchen :)
    It would peeve me when our ex-housemate would find his on a sill or mine by the bathroom sink and bring it into the lounge room asking "who's umarried today?!" but I must admit since we were married "young" it has always given me great glee when we go out to be able to hold up my hand and say sternly say "Mrs" when some awful person implied that our relationship is "unholy" or some other nonseance and no one I don't care for has ever noticed that they are both "the one ring" from when 'The Lord of The Rings' was realeased :3

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