Saturday, March 24, 2012

Marriage Has Feelings, Too

The Chicago Sun-times had an article yesterday about the falling rates of marriage for women in our country (apparently 40% of women choose not to marry). 

Commenters speculated on the reasons for this dip. Some pointed to higher-achieving women. Others blamed high fructose corn syrup.

It got me thinking about whether I would have been as happy at this point in my life had I not married. I feel strongly that I would not be for reasons that span upbringing, religion, and a desire to walk through this life with one true partner.    

Neither my husband nor I wear our wedding rings. Joe's hands are susceptible to injury at both jobs (he had a chunk of finger sewn back on after lopping it off at the firehouse a few years ago). Yet Joe looks married. Ring or no ring. Perhaps it is just his slow gait of defeat.

For me, I don't like the feel of rings. It reminds me of an itchy tag on the back of a shirt. Yet despite our lack of outward appearance regarding our union, we still feel very much married. Would it be the same without a certificate? Would our bond be as complete?

I jokingly tell my husband that he is legally mandated to put up with me. Yet in all actuality, he could walk out whenever he wanted. I know this, but I don't fear it.

Maybe my confidence comes from age. We weren't exactly spring chickens when we wed. I was 30 and he was 32. I knew he had a grumpy side, and he knew I was prone to flying off the handle on occasion (especially when the guy pays full price for laundry detergent).   

Still, we both experienced a host of relationships throughout our 20s which taught us that this stuff is really hard. There is a lot of compromise and listening required. We've learned to wait out the bad spells and enjoy the good days. To get up in front of God and all of creation and make the promise to stick it out no matter what....well, there's something to that. It meant something to me.

I could never support a woman staying in a "bad" marriage (one that involves abuse or cheating), but I could support a woman staying in a "boring" one. That's what they don't tell you in the manual. It all gets pretty repetitive after a while.

Fortunately, I am half Rain Man.  I like consistency. I like ritual and routine. 

I like marriage. 

I don't know if that makes me old-fashioned, naive, or anti-feminist. But getting married is the best thing I have ever done. I just wish it didn't always get such a bum rap. I sometimes feel marriage is being bullied. It is not considered cool or trendy. It gets mocked quite often (see: Kim Kardashian). It is the geeky kid in the front of the class who gets beat up at recess. Words like "antiquated" and "obsolete" are used in describing marriage and its values.

So I am here today to tell the world to stop picking on my pal.  It is fine if you don't want to hang around marriage.  I get that not everybody likes my friend.  I understand that maybe marriage has made some mistakes over the years.  Alienated some people even.  But the marriage I know has never been anything but respectful and loving.

Perhaps it's time we can cut it just a little bit of slack, eh?


  1. Yes, I pretty much like being married. If I didn't, I wouldn't have done it in the first place in 1983. But the reason I believe that so many women choose not to get married is because they are practical--if 50% of marriages fail? If you have standards? If you see others dealing with negative marriages? You and I are lucky.

  2. To me, the secret to a successful marriage is for the male to THINK, before commenting on anything his lovely wife did, does, or is contemplating.

    Never say:
    "and what did you do all day?"
    "did you see the new dent on your new car door?"
    "it costs how much?"
    "you're going out AGAIN with your friends?"
    "why do you watch these stupid shows?"
    "why do we have to visit_____?"

    Rather than ask the above questions, 30 yrs. of blissfulness has taught me to say:

    "yes Dear"
    "whatever you want to do Dear"
    "no that dress doesn't make you look fat Dear."
    "it wasn't your fault Dear"
    "you deserve to buy that Dear"
    "you look and smell wonderful Dear"

    " were right Dear"

    I may be dumb, but I'm not stupid.

  3. I think that people have gotten a weird idea of marriage from movies and TV, where people are excited all the time, or they leave.

    Personally, I'd rather that people who were only in it until they got bored just didn't bother. And the people who cheat, too; if you're going to keep dating, why get married?

  4. I have a lot of favorite posts by you... this one is definitely one of them! I think you should print this out and laminate it.

  5. After thirty years of a relationship with my husband (26 of those years married), I love being able to depend on the "boring" and the repetitive. Although, I can't say I've ever been bored! Commitment has lost it's shine in this world, I guess. Those that condemn it, should try it first. You've got to give what you take. :)

  6. I think that marriage is wonderful and hope that I can find the right guy before my insides completely morph into steel caused by the guys I have dated!

  7. I loved this, Marianne, but I am also a "geeky kid in the front of the class" kind of gal. I love marriage, and I wouldn't have it any other way. That Dan is an absolute keeper.

  8. I share a lot of these same thoughts. The insinuation that "high-achieving women" wouldn't be satisfied with marriage is insulting to me, and yet, it tugs at the back of my mind. Am I just old-fashioned? Anti-feminist? etc. I don't think so. I think I'm blessed with a great marriage, a choice well made and then a commitment stuck to even when it got "boring" or troublesome.
    Thank you for writing this, it is something that needs to be said.

  9. It seems like the same folks who bully marriage may have descended from the ones who gave us such phony ideas about the fairy tales of wedded life. If you set yourself up for a demented fairy tale, then yes, it can be a little disappointing at times. Loved your perspective here!

  10. My husband looks like a single man often because he often hangs his own clothes on the line.

  11. Thanks all for the feedback! xoxo Mar

  12. I'm pro marriage too. Hey, my mom has stuck it out with my dad for all these years (and trust me, that man is a handful!).

    I think getting married at 30 helped too. Like you pointed out, my husband and I had our 20's to goof off and learn from the bad (oh, yes,there was some serious bad!).

    Great post from one geek to another ...



  13. I love this post and shared it with Mick. I saw an image the other day (probably on pinterest, but dang it, now I have to go find it again!) that showed an elderly couple and they were asked how they did it, and the woman basically said that in her generation, you stuck with what you got and you made it work ... I completely didn't do that justice, but I will find it and share it. Anyway, thanks for writing this.