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Open Mike is a forum for readers on a specific topic that will change every one or two months. The forum includes Your Turn, an opportunity for readers to share anecdotes and opinions related to the chosen topic. Conversely editors and writers select the most interesting entries and post them the following month In This Corner!
For our readers who don't have time to write but want to share their opinions, Open Mike also features a Three-Minute Survey - not the typical, simplistic Internet poll, but a set of five questions related to the monthly topic. When the survey is completed, we will publish Survey Says: a brief article analyzing the results.
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What Craziness, Marriage?
Our Open Mike question from April through June revolved around the question of why people get or don't get married. It turned out to be a feisty topic.
The forces of traditional marriage rallied and reasserted the old clichés about love and marriage and so on. We have spared you most of those responses, though we included a token one as an example of the form. Other defenders presented more nuanced arguments. Interestingly, we had several responses that said, in essence, "yes, but"; some also provided extra examples of why marriage isn't always the answer - or the best answer - and helped debunk the myth that unmarried couples can't have happy lives, children, financial benefits, loyalty, love, and all.
In favor of marriage
I am absolutely pro-marriage!! When this covenant is entered into with the right person, it is the most magical thing in your life. I have married my best friend, biggest supporter, and incredible lover all rolled into one. Who can ask for more?
I am a single 32 year old woman who is very much pro-marriage. Marriage, I have seen from the outside looking in, is one of the hardest institutions an individual can get into. But one of the most rewarding. I believe marriage is what most people need. The need to share their life with someone. There are those who would rather stay single but live with others performing duties of marriage. Whether those duties are sharing their life responsibilities or having children. That seems to be a downward spiral of our society today. A non-commitment to values, morals or responsibilities, hence the easy way out. Although those who oppose marriage can come up with valid excuses there still remains a need to fulfill marital duties in one's life. So why not have the sacred institution. Rather than the pseudo likeness thereof without true promise.
I am pro-marriage. The reason behind it is when you find someone --- you just know. I thought I would never get married till I met Dave. I tried to lie to myself about it for quite some time. He was there through thick and thin and that's how you know. You share everything-- EVERYTHING. It is kinda cool. As long as you can express your feelings when you are happy/sad (all emotions) and work them out. Marriage is a wonderful thing, it is NOT EASY, you just can't walk away when it gets tough. You work through all the tough times together. That's the fun part.
Not quite in favor...
Not so simple as to spell the word, or to laugh at the Maaawaauuge represented by the movie "A Princess Bride," but in the end a complex point of confusion leading to desperation and finally the realization that there is something missing in your life that only a spouse can fill. My wife and I started off as common law. The state of Colorado recognized that we were common law and gave us the benefits afforded to those that were married. Lower insurance, better taxes, etc. We moved to Oregon. Oregon does not recognize common law. Life became expensive. In order to afford to live we were forced to be married. Although to us we had already chosen to be together as mates for the rest of our lives, the marriage was something for the establishment to recognize in us that commitment. Kinda' messed up in the traditional "Church that supposedly was separated from Government a long time ago" way of thinking. Why should the government or any corporation care if you have stood before "God" and made an oath? Either way, my life is not complete without my partner. Yet in order to survive in Oregon, we were forced to conform.
Marriage...atheists welcome any day.
I was married once, and after two years and no kids, it was over. I left him for the man I currently live with. About 5 years into our relationship, we decided to get married. We had a venue, a minister, a caterer, a guest list. We were serious.
And then his mother chose to intervene. I thought she would be thrilled that we were tying the knot after 5 years of living against God's will; but, oh no. She told me where the wedding was going to be and who was going to be invited. I politely told her that the guest list and location were fixed. Just as if she hadn't heard me, she repeated it. I said the same thing.
I went home to Paul and collapsed in tears in his arms. He said something that struck terror into my heart. He said, "Do you think she'll get any better? Any more reasonable?"
Still crying, I said, "No."
"Do you still want to get married?"
So we didn't. Whenever my mother in common law annoys me, I think about telling her that she's the reason I never married her son and that two of her grandchildren were born out of wedlock.
It's made no difference to our relationship. These days, when someone goes on at length about what's involved in getting married, I pat their hands and say, "Oh, it's dreadful, coming from a cultural background where you have to go through all this crap." And I go home to my mortgage, my kids, and my spouse, and thank God we never got married.
I believe in marriage...but I don't believe it's for everyone.
I think that some people simply can't be monogamous, while others feel their love is strong enough that they don't need a "piece of paper" to prove it. Then there are those who think of long-term monogamy, but not necessarily "permanent" monogamy, and so live with someone for years, though they are both free to leave if they should choose to.
Personally, I like the idea of marriage, but I think it's for those of us who can see ourselves with the same person, "until death do us part." I feel that if you're thinking, "yeah right" as you say your vows then marriage is probably not for you. Above all I think the vows are what count. If you're not prepared to give 100% of yourself to one person forever, then I don't see the point of marriage. Call me old-fashioned.
The final word...
The earliest memory I have is waking up in the middle of the night to venomous yelling, screaming and the thunder of dishes crashing against the kitchen wall. I was no more than two years old. My mother and father had divorced when I was about three and I found myself strapped in the backseat, pulling out trembling fistfuls of Cheerios from the cereal box and pushing them into my mouth as I watched the last of the recognizable buildings twirl past the back passenger window. When we got to this strange place called "gramma n' grampa's", I found myself perched on a tree stump, waiting for my dad's red El Camino to come grumbling down the road and into the driveway.
That never happened. How was I to know that my parents' divorce would help dictate and mold how I viewed marriage? How would I know I would spend so long sitting on that tree stump, waiting for something to come along? I have a hard time trusting people, KNOWING people will hurt you and walk out. I learned to understand this through the abusive situations I'd endured through my childhood and adolescence and from what I perceived in marriages and relationships of the people around me. I can't help but feel that marriage and romantic relationships are not taken seriously anymore.
Marriage is about establishing an UNBREAKABLE unity and bond with another human being. Romantic relationships are, for all practical purposes, the pre-cursor to that. In either case we should be building each other up, supporting each other and, God forbid, LOVE each other. I don't believe anything, even remotely like that, exists. It's more about being scared of the world around us and finding someone to make us horny so that we can stay scared and horny, wear the bands on the left ring finger and calling it "love".
What exactly is marriage, we adamantly inquire? Where is the passion? What IS marriage? It is whatever works for us at the time. And if it doesn't? There are, of course, attorneys.
...and the best not-quite-an-answer
I believe that love is the answer, as in all things. True love, whether lasting or not always, solves the mysteries of life. It may not be the answer to having a big fancy wedding or a simple civil ceremony. It may not be the answer to actually getting "officially" married or even staying married. But, it is the answer to giving a committed relationship a shot.
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