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Thursday, 05 August 2010

The Real Threat To Traditional Marriage

So Prop 8 was overturned in California. I read some of the articles quoting the ruling, and I noticed something interesting. What religions recognise and what states' laws recognise aren't always the same thing. Prop 8 is a matter of law and not religion. There are plenty of places where law and religion don't match!

A state can see a couple as divorced. Their religion can refuse to see them as divorced. A state will give an annulment to a religious couple even if they have kids. A state will break a covenant marriage, which is supposed to be unbreakable. So even before you bring gay rights issues into the picture, you already have a mismatch between what states recognise or allow and what religions recognise or allow. There are plenty of places where the Bible doesn't match up with anything in the USA... like we DON'T sell our children into slavery, even though the Bible says we can.

As a divorced woman, I know that many marriages do not last. Plenty that do are unhappy. Imagine it as an eBay seller. If you made more than 50% of your customers unhappy, eBay wouldn't even let you sell. So why do marriages go so wrong?

To me, the real threat to traditional marriage is the imbalance between people in a couple. This imbalance can be played out a number of ways. Maybe one person makes most/all of the money, and the other person feels "kept." Maybe one person is hyper-sensitive, and makes the other feel like he or she is "walking on eggshells"... that if you say or do the "wrong" thing, no matter how small, it'll be a battle. Maybe the couple isn't a good sexual match. Maybe they don't have similar core values, religious beliefs, approaches to child care, levels of neatness or organisation.

Isn't Marriage Supposed To Be "Hard" and Take a Lot of Work?

That's a story we tell ourselves when things are hard. When the relationship was GREAT, we didn't tell ourselves, "Well, this is just supposed to be hard and take work.... why is this so great and easy?!?!?" We matched the story we told ourselves to what our reality was, hoping we'll feel better. When the relationship got hard, we told ourselves, well, that's just marriage... it's hard. We need to stop telling ourselves made-up stories to try to feel better. We need that cold splash of water in the face.

Be careful of the stories you tell yourself. "Love will conquer all." Well, it may not. I found my love didn't do squat when it came to trying to deal with a dry drunk with unresolved childhood issues. I didn't cause those problems, and I can't fix them, which is a good lesson for everybody: you are unlikely to be able to fix problems you didn't cause, especially deep ones from before you met your partner. Love didn't conquer anything.

Another story we tell ourselves is that we've put so many years into this, why walk away. We don't keep a car because we've had it for 10 years. We don't sell or junk it because we've had it for 10 years. We get rid of it when it's not right for us anymore. I think relationships should be the same. I think people should consider disconnecting when the relationship isn't working, and can't be fixed... even if it's a vintage car. :) Putting more coats of paint on it won't make it better.

So How Do You Find That Successful Relationship?

Hey, I'm not perfect. I'm talking more from experience of long-term relationships that ended (badly). But I do have friends who have been married for decades, and say the spark and lightning are still there. Those people chose the right people. I'm hoping that right choice will come my way soon, if it hasn't already. :)

Think about your relationship with your best friend. You don't have to TRY to make that person happy. In fact, nobody would dream for a second that it's your JOB to make that person happy! You're each responsible for your own happiness. You don't have to say the right things or do the right things. You and your best friend just click, and you can talk about anything. You can say something, take it back, reshape it, try again, and your best friend doesn't pick a fight with you.

To me, the success or failure of a relationship always comes down to balance, equality, and how you share. This comes back to not the genders of people or the religion, but it comes down to who we choose as our (hopefully) life partner. It's about our expectations. If you expect your partner to "make you happy," that's a lot of pressure on that person. I prefer dating a happy person who wants to share that with me rather than someone looking for me to say and do all the right things so he'll be happy.

To me, the threat to traditional marriage isn't gay people. It's not religious people who want to superimpose their beliefs and preferences on everybody else as if there is only one right way. The biggest threat to traditional marriage are all of us who chose the wrong people and stayed. There is at least one fantastically right life partner out there for you... someone who makes you feel loved, supported, beautiful, and full of lightning. Life is short. Go find that person. :) Your marriage is a model for how your kids will see love... if you wouldn't want your kids in a relationship like yours, go find a really healthy one that they will hopefully use as a model instead.

And on a side note, that's why I like Chelsea Clinton... I like a girl who is JUST NOW marrying a guy she met 17 years ago. I think if more people took extra time to live together and see how the relationship evolves over time BEFORE getting married, we'd see a lot less divorce. Think about your the person you were dating 17 years ago. :)

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I couldn't have said it better myself. IMHO, everyone would be better off if everyone else would just mind their own business and stop poking their noses into others' relationships.

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