marriage-cartoon-proposal

Marriageability

How is marriage really supposed to begin? The tradition itself seems to be subjective between cultures. In Pakistan and Afghanistan, many marriages are arranged by fathers as diplomatic agreements between families. The civil union of sorts is for life; cultural expectations rarely permit a public separation no matter how abusive or unhappy the relationship. In the United States, a marriage is a designer affair where the bride gets celebrated and a Hollywood story is the ideal. About half of all marriages end in divorce, but a romantic life can continue on for most. In Europe, marriage is a bad word. Most couples these days do not marry at all instead choosing to raise children and live together all outside of the umbrella of a government- or church-sanctioned civil union. Rings and proposing are only for the company of kings and royalty.

Maybe a union set up by older (and hopefully wiser) parents will lead to marital longevity. Many Midwest American Christians defend marriage as a sacred institution set up by God to give a man a place to care for a woman (or women, if you are a polygamist). Perhaps not getting married at all is less messy than imagining the paperwork of hiring a divorce lawyer. I grew up thinking of the husband and wife unit as an ideal set-up for true happiness. Then, like many children of my generation, I saw first-hand that happiness slip into a divorce court. Today, I am not so naïve to think that marriage solves problems; more often they can be the very source of the problem.

How in the world does someone define their marriageability age? Above all, one can count on plenty of unsolicited opinions regarding the matter from movies to the church pulpit. Without a doubt, there is a fine line between a conscious thoughtful decision and an ignorant blissful youth looking to find happiness. If you don’t know how to think about getting married, talk to someone who has been at it for a while (successfully). If you know someone who has failed at it, they may be an even better resource being seen as someone who has mastered all the ways NOT to do it. Some people I know who are already married say there was a point when they just knew, as if a light clicked in their mind and they realized their life wouldn’t be complete without that certain someone.

Have you seen that t-shirt with the cartoon bride and groom? The caption under the couple says, “GAME OVER.” That pretty much sums up my concept of marriage. Avoid it as long as you possibly can but get as close as you can to it without getting burned. Ultimately for me, there was a specific moment when I knew the person I wanted to be with for the rest of my life. As most love-related subjects for men (or grown-up boys) go, it also happened to be one of the most surprising and frightening moments of my life. Why is it that so many guys fantasize over a relationship that does not even exist? And I do mean fantasize in every sense of the word here. Consider it this way: why are guys so afraid of intimacy that they would rather google “naked women” than fully explore the notion of having a thoughtful genuine relationship with a woman?

Marriageability is anemic without an open heart.

2 thoughts on “Marriageability”

  1. Jacob,

    Ironic that you and I have the same wordpress theme for our blogs.

    I think you ask great questions. I think in the end each person may have their own individual reason as to why it is easier to live in fantasy land than it is to walk it out in reality. For me, I always dreamed of being married, and it was a fantasy, in my mind. It was so unrealistic that I never could’ve lived that out. I don’t know that I can say to this day why I struggled with the intimacy issue. it probably goes back to being an awkward teenager who experienced rejection at a sensitive life juncture. It may also have something to do with family dynamics, with my Mom and Dad fighting a lot, and my Mom having spent 2 years away from home due to some mental health issues. At the end of the day I can’t really say for sure. What I can say is that the only cure for me was to know in my heart where I was to go, and then standing on that until my mind came around and accepted it.

    Regarding marriage in America and other places, I think we have it all wrong. In my humble opinion (and I may be berated for my opinion by conservative Christians), marriage in the eyes of God has nothing to do with a ceremony. It has everything to do with two people that have committed themselves to each other, and then physically given themselves to each other. In our own culture, we take marriage very lightly. You are right that weddings are often more about the glitz and glamour and less about the true meaning of love, and in reality young girls in our culture are raised to see marriage as a fantasy, for different reasons than men tend to. The dress, the bridesmaids dresses, the flowers, the cake, etc. These tend to be the focus of attention, with minimal attention paid to why we’re getting married to begin with. The result, as you mentioned, is a 50% divorce rate. Unfortunately, the divorce rate is not much different in the church, so somehow we’ve missed something as well. On the other side of the fence, I know couples that will never “marry”, but are more committed to each other than most “married” couples. I don’t need a man-made piece of paper, generated after a man-made traditional ceremony, to prove that I love my wife.

    What a heavy topic love is! I think you’re on the right path, and seeing things properly. God bless!

    Mark

  2. Dear Jacob,
    I have read your blog twice now, and think I understand what you are saying and why you would feel this way about marriage. Our culture, the church included, has got it all wrong. I realize that the closest example you’ve had was not a true representation of what God intended in His original design for marriage. There are other examples of marriage that you can look to though. I’m glad to have had a happy fulfilling marriage for 34 years. I cannot imagine my life without that. Was it perfect? No, of course not; but beautiful none the less. I would really like you to hear what Kris Vollotton has to say about God’s intent for men and women. It’s a podcast that you should be able to download to your ipod. He says it so much better than I could here. There are some insights that I have never seen before, and that have not been taught in the church. Please tell me when you’ve heard it, and maybe we could talk about it. There are some beautiful concepts that I think you will find quite appealing and empowering. You are in my thoughts and prayers. We miss you here, and look forward to your visit and meeting Maria. Please tell her ‘hi’ for me. Blessings and love,
    Sue
    “God’s Most Amazing Creation” by Kris Vollotton. http://www.ibethel.org/podcasting/SOTWpodcast.xml

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