Sunday, July 12, 2009

ATTENTION! Marriage is becoming obsolete!

I recently came across this article, <http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31452178?gt1=43001>, on my MSN home page. Please go read it and then come back to read the rest of this post. It'll give you a little more insight into what I'm going to write here today.

Last month my Dear Hubby and I celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary. Yesterday as we were driving along I-205 on our way home from Vancouver a little car passed by us and made us chuckle as we looked at the message plastered on the back window, the white ribbons festooning off the back bumper. It said "MARRIED TODAY! 10 YEARS AGO!" I told Dear Hubby, "I bet they think that's a huge milestone, don't you think?" Dear Hubby agreed. Then we were quiet for a few minutes and I stared out the side window doing some fast rewinding of our own lives together. I spoke up again and said, "It sure makes our 35 years look like a lifetime, doesn't it?

And that's just it.

It's supposed to be a lifetime together. Isn't it?

Coming from the generation that my mom did, she was a rare breed of mother for dishing out advice to her daughter, a child growing up in the 5o's and 60's like I did, reaching young womanhood in the early 70's. Back then we still had "Father Knows Best" and "Leave It To Beaver" as our current role models, not as the nostalgic 'Oh my, look at life in the good old days!' reruns the world sees them as today. My mom was a stay-at-home housewife most of my youth until an industrial accident my dad suffered disabled him for a while and she had to go to work when I was around 15 to help keep food on the table. My dad was a typical 9-to-5 dad. We were brought up with traditional values as far as loving God and country and being raised to become functioning, decent human beings.

Under this outside facade lived my mom. Married at 18. Whisked across the country from New England to Washington State not long after her marriage to establish a life out here. She didn't return 'home' for 22 years because we three older kids began coming along right away, our baby brother in 1960, and my parents couldn't afford a trip to New England until 1968. I don't imagine it was easy for her, being just a kid herself, coming from a part of the country so culturally different than the Northwest, not knowing a soul outside of her new groom and her father who'd settled out here ahead of them...he'd served in the Navy during WWII and divorced my grandmother. He was newly married with his new bride, a woman much younger than him, so my mother had all of that emotional angst to deal with, too.

Which leads me to the advice she gave me, starting back when I was just a little girl. "Don't marry the first man who asks you." "Don't get married young." "Don't use marriage as an escape." Can you see thru these words that marriage apparently wasn't the White Knight in Shining Armor fairy tale in her life? My parents' marriage was volatile. It was a difficult one for my brothers and me to grow up in. Somehow they endured. When my mom died in 1989 they'd been married 43 years. When I asked my Dad why he and mom never divorced he looked at me like I had marbles for brains and told me, "Because she was the mother of my children."

Obviously, there was more going on in this marriage than what we children could glean out of it. There was commitment and dedication mixed in with all the friction and discord. There was...somewhere...still love that burned. Dimly. But it was there. My mom died at home from colon cancer and in the last week or two when my dad and oldest brother and I were with her 24 hours per day - with the help of the wonderful Hospice staff - I observed how tenderly and patiently my dad cared for my mother. It didn't matter how many times she called out in the nite...if I was grabbing a few minutes rest in one of the bedrooms I could hear my dad telling her in a soothing voice that he was right there, it was ok.

Now, as to following my mother's advice. I didn't marry the first man who asked me. I didn't use it as an escape from anything. But I did marry young. I was 20 and Dear Hubby was barely 21. I look at kids who are the same age now and wonder, "What were we thinking?!" These kids look like babies to us. As young as we were, tho, he also came from a home with parents who'd been married a long time. As with my parents, his also had their share of problems. But so what?! EVERY relationship on God's green earth has problems. The thing that kept our parents together thru thick and thin was commitment...it was believing in the vows they took on their wedding days. To be together until death parted them. When my dad-in-law died last year my in-laws had been married almost 56 years.

And now I come back to this article. To the taped interview with the author from the "Today" show that's linked on there. I watched that, too. And I looked at this woman who wrote it and I thought, "What a cop-out." So what if, as the years go by, committed spouses become more companions than passionate lovers? So what if you get stuck doing all the day-to-day humdrum stuff? Most of life is routine. Life is cyclical. A veritable merry-go-round of cycles. We come together and sparks fly...we drift along on the current that eddies past us in dips and swirls and calm, quiet water.

I dunno.

I'm sure there are millions of women out there who agree with her. Who go look for greener pastures in an extra-marital affair as she did. There are those who'll read this and vilify me for my old-fashioned, traditional values. But you don't know the whole me...you only know the me who writes here. But I'll fill you in a little about the 35 years I've spent with my husband. We've been thru serious illnesses, no money, no job, deaths of beloved family and friends. We've been thru the joys of raising two wonderful kids. We've had fiery arguments and disagreements. We've been tired of each other. We've been restless and disillusioned at times. But we were both raised with integrity, with the belief in sticking to something to the finish. Not jumping ship when the seas get rough. Not abandoning one another when times get tough. There is something satisfying and fulfilling in coming out on the other side victorious, still being together. Still being in love.

9 comments:

Donna said...

Yes indeed!

Loretta said...

I agree 100%. So many people give up at the first sign of trouble! It't a good feelng to know that nothing life throws at us can part us. We are one.

Meadowlark said...

I stopped reading at: ...what I cannot authentically reconjure is the ancient dream of brides, even with the Oprah fluffery of weekly “date nights,” when gauzy candlelight obscures the messy house, child talk is nixed and silky lingerie donned, so the two of you can look into each other’s eyes and feel that “spark” again. ...

When trouble hits in my marriage (we celebrate 24 years next month) I remember this event:

It was my grandparents' 45th anniversary celebration. My grandpa stood up to say a toast. "Here's to 42 wonderful years..." and my grandma interrupted "this is our 45th dear" to which grandpa replied "ah... but who said ALL of them were wonderful". As we all laughed about that later, my grandma said to us young'uns ;) "He's right. Not all of them are wonderful. Sometimes you look at that person and you don't even LIKE them, let alone LOVE them. That's when marriage starts. When you remember that there was a reason you fell in love, and the two of you had better get working at figuring out what it was, or finding something new to love."

THAT is what has kept me and mine (we are NOT soulmates, or even a great match, teee hee) together.

Who sold women the bill of goods that it's gonna be romantic every day. Pshaw!

Meadowlark said...

note: finding SOMETHINE new to love, not SOMEONE, from the end of that paragraph.

Dori said...

American girls have Bride Magazine, bridal shows, fairy tales and all of that crap shoved down their throats--and they buy it! They want it. And they forget that there's a life after the vows are said, after all of that money is spent on a "dream wedding". No wonder half of all marriages end in divorce--they're build on a fantasy.

Every now and then I look around me and it dawns at me that this right here is the fairy tale. I'm good with that. We were both late 20's, we'd been together for 4 years already--we'd seen the worst in each other. This year is our 11th wedding anniversary and we're so much better/stronger. It *is* work. But it shouldn't be back breaking labor either. Big difference.

Jaggy said...

I'm one of those soon-to-be brides looking at marriage as if through a telescope. The Boy and I have done our marriage counseling, and we have a strong connection to our church. Both sets of our parents are still married, 30 years (give or take). We've seen that marriage isn't always rosy, that sometimes we will wake up not recognizing the person next to us or even ourselves.

The #2 reason I'm marrying The Boy is because we're both intensely loyal people. We know our lives will have rough spots, but we are both the stubborn and determined type who realize that sticking together is better than going our separate ways.

In case you wondered, the #1 reason I'm marrying him: I love him more than I love me. Sounds sappy and cliche, I know, but I do love him.

On October 17, 2009, we will begin our life together for better or worse. Pray for us.

Meadowlark said...

Praying for you Jaggy. YoungSon gets married this spring and I hope he's seen enough with us to know it's worth the effort.

Dori, Husband and I knew each other FOUR MONTHS, so obviously WE'RE the poster children for stubborn!!!

Rev. Linda said...

I agree that 'forever' is a beautiful thing to behold..........for some people. I personally know some elderly people who stayed married when it should have been over shortly after the ceremony but stayed together. As a consequence, these loveless marriages created some pretty dysfunctional and socially maladjusted people!

I believe the key is to write vows TOGETHER where the couple gets very clear about what it is they each want from life. Then if they are still on the same page the vows are the promises they make on how they will keep the dream alive. Not any mushy words without substance. That's perhaps why many vows are not kept.........they simply have no meaning!

L Bardes

Suburbia said...

So much to read here that is applicable to me. Thanks for writing this Kris. I do realise I have perhaps given up rather than gone on for the children. However I saw a glimmer of hope in your very last sentence. If you still have love, nothing else matters. We seem to have lost ours along the way somewhere. I am glad you still have such a precious thing :)