The institution of marriage is a funny thing. When I was growing up, most of my family, which included my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, were married, with nary a divorce in sight. It seemed that half of my friends parents were still married and the other half, part of a statistic. I don't know if they were all happy, but they remained together. I thought my parents fought a lot and wondered why they didn't get divorced, as they seemed miserable together. But married they stayed until my father suddenly died, shortly after retiring.
I didn't give too much thought to my own future marriage. I wasn't one of those girls who dreamed about weddings and marriage and babies. I was more in tune with working and making a career for myself. Growing up on Saturday morning Bette Davis movies will do that to you.
Low and behold, though, I married at a young age (24), had two children and was a "stay-at-home" mom for 14 years. Now, the kids are grown and gone and my husband and I are still together. Sometimes I wonder, why? Yes, I love him, but I'm not "in love" with him and I don't believe that he feels in love with me either. We're like an old pair of loose fitting jeans - not very flattering but still comfortable.
It seems to me that marriage should be a ten-year contract with the option to renew - much like a lease on a property. Ten years together can seem a lifetime and people can change dramatically. Why is it that we are expected to make this lifelong decision at such an early age of our adulthood, without the option of exiting comfortably, with grace and dignity and a kindness towards one another?
I am not the same person that I was when I was 24 years old. I don't want the same things out of life. Must I be permanently attached to someone because that's what our society has decided is natural and normal? What if I want to take 6 months off and explore the world? And, I don't want to do it with him? Is that grounds for divorce? Would this be an act of marriage treason? I would like to think that, after all these years together, we could have an amicable understanding that each of us may want to do something different from the other from time to time. And that's okay.
What about sex? It's a common joke that once you get married your sex life withers. Well, perhaps it does for some and not for others, but surely both parties find themselves attracted to someone who is not their marriage partner. And by attracted I mean not only physically but spiritually, communally. We may feel a connection to another human and want to explore it but our marriage vows keep us from doing so without guilt. It just seems like such a shame, as I know that I personally grow from every experience I have with another person and the idea of stifling that growth is such a waste.
I'm not sure what the answer is or if I'm the only one asking, however, I do think that the idea of marriage is due for a change.