Here's a suggestion. Don't get married until you've gotten tired of dating. If you are not tired of picking strangers up at bars late at night, you do not need to be thinking about getting married.

With longer life spans, you can have kids when you are in your 30's or later and still live to see grandkids. If you have kids when you are grown up, you will enjoy them a lot more than the kids who are having kids do.

Oh, yeah: And try to marry someone you like, not just someone you love.

Divorce is not a necessary part of marriage, no matter what Hollywood or the daytime talk shows want you to believe.

Little Known Factoid

In 1976, a Los Angeles secretary named Jannene Swift officially married a 50-pound rock. The ceremony was witnessed by more than 20 people.
"Notwithstand your Happiness and your recommendation I hope I shall never marry... Though the most beautiful Creature were waiting for me at the end of a Journey or a Walk; though the carpet were of Silk, the Curtains of the morning Clouds; the chairs and Sofa stuffed with Cygnet's down; the food Manna, the Wine beyond Claret, the Window opening on Winander mere, I should not feel - or rather my Happiness would not be so fine, as my Solitude is sublime. Then instead of what I have described, there is a Sublimity to welcome me home - The roaring of the wind is my wife and the Stars through the window pane are my Children. The mighty abstract Idea I have of Beauty in all things stifles the more divided and minute domestic happiness - an amiable wife and sweet Children I contemplate as a part of that Beauty, but I must have a thousand of those beautiful particles to fill up my heart. I feel more and more every day, as my imagination strengthens, that I do not live in this world alone but in a thousand worlds."

Letter to his brother George and sister-in-law Georgiana,
John Keats, 1818

The possibly emotional, legal, financial, and/or religious partnership between two (or more, if you're open-minded) individuals. While this encompasses the definition of marriage, it does not in any way sum up marriage itself.

The state of matrimony can best be described subjectively. It can be worse than "Marriage is when two people love each other so much that they want to spend the rest of their lives driving each other crazy." and better than wanting to spend the rest of your life with someone just to make them happy.

My observations:

It occurs to me that these could be good things to keep in mind for any relationship.

In the card game Pinochle, a marriage is the King and Queen together in the same suit. A King-Queen combination in the trump suit is called a Royal Marriage, and is worth 40 points. A King-Queen combination in any other suit is called a simple marriage, and is worth 20 points.

Choose from the following:

a.) a piece of paper
b.) a convenience
c.) an excuse for holding onto one particuliar person
d.) a war
e.) an acceptance of what cannot be avoided
F.) a gift
g.) a torture
h.) a song broken up into two parts pulling together in reels
i.) the scariest thing to be had besides perhaps death
j.) a promise
k.) a deal, a pact
l.) a fairytale
m.) a nightmare
n.) a forgiving
o.) a Mexican stand off
p.) a brilliance
q.) a stupidity
r.) a grievance
s.) an enlightenment
T.) a hate
u.) a love
v.) a creation
w.) a demolition
x.) a misunderstaing
y.) an understanding
z.) something rich and strange....

Or more easily, more clinically "It is an appointment, it is a disappointment."

A relationship between one man, one woman, and the state, granting special rights to participants, including but in no way limited to the following:

Federally granted legal marriage rights:
Assumption of spouse’s pension
Bereavement leave
Immigration
Insurance breaks
Medical decisions on behalf of partner
Sick leave to care for partner
Tax breaks
Visitation of partner in hospital or prison

State granted legal marriage rights:
Assumption of spouse’s pension
Automatic inheritance
Automatic housing lease transfer
Bereavement leave
Burial determination
Child custody
Crime victim’s recovery benefits
Divorce protections
Domestic violence protection
Exemption from property tax on partner’s death
Immunity from testifying against spouse
Insurance breaks
Joint adoption and foster care
Joint automobile insurance
Joint bankruptcy
Joint parenting (insurance coverage, school records)
Medical decisions on behalf of partner
Medical insurance family coverage
Certain property rights
Reduced-rate memberships
Sick leave to care for partner
Visitation of partner’s children
Visitation of partner in hospital or prison
Wrongful death (loss of consort) benefits

Most of the people I know say they will NOT get married. They apparently want to continue the crazy bachelor lifestyle they are living. Or think they are living. Or wish they could be living. No one I know is a super stud and I can’t think of one single instance in the four years I’ve known these people that one of them went home with someone, or got a number that they actually called, or was actually called by someone who took their number.

I point out these things to them, when I tell them that they will be married some day. Yes, they will, because they don’t want to die alone anymore than anyone else does. They don’t want to whittle away their golden years watching CNN and hoping that when the phone rings it might be a relative. They don’t want to be the weird aunt who never got married and was cool for a while, but now wears too much lipstick, has too many cats and is always trying to pawn off strange, glass-like candies on her nephews.

And neither do you and neither do I.

Because that is what it is all about. Someone being there, beside you when most of the world doesn’t consider you worth sitting next to. Someone who will look at you, and won’t see a wizened, old, toothless prune…instead they’ll see you at twenty-five. And under their fingers you’ll feel like twenty-five because you and he or she together make something more vibrant than you’d ever be apart. Someone to touch you, hold you and love you when the world wants nothing more than to deny your existence.

When you can’t recall anymore the little details, the two of you can pool your memories and everything will stay vivid. The children. The love making. The pain. It’s the time you will have shared that will prop you up against each other when your bodies want to lay down and decay. You will protect each other and keep each other young. Marriage bonds people psychologically in a way that living together seldom does.

In dying the one who goes first will die near the one they love, and so they needn’t be afraid…the one who dies second, passes on with the knowledge that they needn’t fear the unknown, because their spouse is there, waiting.

It isn’t perfect and it isn’t always like that in the end, people grow apart and they move on, and they hate and have too much pride. But somewhere, there are two people, shriveled and spotted, who are looking at each other, and all they see is beauty.

If you are trying to decide whether or not to get married, one popular method of assessment is to draw up some kind of chart to weigh the pros and cons for each side. Charles Darwin did this in a memorandum to himself, apparently composed around July 1838:

The document has two columns, Marry and Not Marry, and above them, circled, the words "This is the Question."

On the pro-marriage side were "Children--(if it Please God)--Constant companion, (&friend in old age) who will feel interested in one,--object to be beloved & played with." After reflecting for an unknown period of time, he modified the sentence with "better than a dog anyhow." He continued: "Home, & someone to take care of the house-- Charms of music & female chit-chat--These things good for one's health.--but terrible loss of time." The issue of marriage causing a loss of time and infringing upon his work was addressed further in the Not Marry column. Not marrying would preserve "Freedom to go where one like--choice of Society & little of it.--Conversation of clever men at clubs--not forced to visit relatives, & to bend in every trifle--to have the expense & anxiety of children--Perhaps quarelling--Loss of time.--cannot read in the Evenings--fatness & idleness--Anxiety & responsibility--less money for books &c--if many children forced to gain one's bread."

The pro-marriage forces were victorious, however, with final thoughts at the end of the Marry column: "My God, it is intolerable to think of spending ones whole life, like a neuter bee, working, working, & nothing after all.--No, no won't do.--Imagine living all one's day solitarily in smoking dirty London House.--Only picture to yourself a nice soft wife on a sofa with good fire,& books & music perhaps." At the bottom: "Marry-Marysic-Marry Q.E.D."

Sources:
Frederick Burkhardt and Sydney Smith, eds. (1985-91) The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol 2, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wright, Robert. The Moral Animal, New York: Pantheon Press, 1994.

"I've just felt like you've been making such a big deal about us not spending time together that I thought... well, I thought you'd choose to spend time rather than running off to do something else," she said.

His expression melted into pain. "But you said I could go," and the notes of his voice were desperate, pleading. "Please, please," his eyes said. "Don't tell me I'm doing it wrong, I can't handle it if I'm doing it wrong."

And her first instinct was to reach out to him, to pat him on the head and tell him everything was going to be OK. But how can you soothe someone who doesn't want you? She could walk away and then he would just leave. And maybe that was the kindest thing to do for him. But how to see him in pain, to have somehow caused it, and to be willing to walk away from it, unresolved? And then she remembered -- but I was the one in pain. I'm the one who's waiting to be soothed, waiting for someone to pat me and tell me it'll be OK. Tears welled up in her eyes.

"It just makes me feel like you don't care about me," she said.

"How can you say that to me?" he rasped.

Oh shit, she thought, as she watched the walls of fantasy fall down all around her. She had forgotten. But now she remembers. He's not thinking about him wanting to be with me or me wanting to be with him or my being in pain or any of it. He's just thinking he fucked up -- his only one and overwhelming thought -- and now he's going to have some kind of a panic attack and shut down. He left the room, walking like a man on death row: a prisoner, a victim. His reaction was, as always, mystifying, unfathomable. I should have expected it... I should have thought first. Accusing him of not loving you never ever ever illicits a loving response. Not even if you use neutral language and precede it with "I feel." You idiot. Never.

Anger flashed through then, sharpening the edges of her thoughts. The anger is at him? For an instant. Until she silently called him an emotional four-year-old and conceded to herself that he can't help it; it is what he is. And I'm the asshole who loves him. So. Much. She repeated the old litany to herself: It doesn't matter how he treats you, how you interact. It's just him that matters -- how he is, who he is when he's out in the world and whether or not you want to be near that. And how he was out in the world was fascinating and fun and entirely unique. So it doesn't matter how your ego feels about how he treats you. It's not zen anyway, to be so attached to feeling wanted, needed, desired, even loved, by someone else. You just give love. Give and give and give. And if you get some, that's nice, that's a bonus. Because real bliss comes from giving... Her mind trailed off. No. That perspective is not working today. Not today.

I feel unloved, she thought, by the person I love most in all the world. And the fact that I don't believe he loves me, or assume he loves me, makes him angry and distant and sad. What the fuck do you do with that? Not "No, honey, of course I love you and I will try so hard, forever, to prove it to you if that's what it takes. How devastating for you to live in that reality where you believe (and it's so hard to imagine, because my heart just bursts with love for you every moment!) that I don't care for you." Not that, ever.

It's like being in love with a celebrity. You watch them and you love them and you're so happy to see them and to see what they're up to. And sometimes it almost seems that they're looking through the lens of whatever medium you're viewing them through and see you and interact with you. And you have just that fleeting illusion of connection. And it carries you... it carries you away. It's enough, for a little while. But then you remember. And you die a little bit more. Because you've been to your celebrity's house and you've called out to them, "Why don't you ever call?" and they close their windows and doors on you and security comes out and shoos you away. But it's even worse than that. Because security says to you, before they point the guns at you, that if only you believed that he loved you, everything would be different. And the only dream you have left, besides the one impossible dream that keeps you around, that keeps you tethered, is the one where you walk away.

"Faith?" she screamed in the empty house. "You want me to have faith?" But no. That she couldn't find her way into. Not in the face of all this evidence to the contrary. The best she could do was forget. Because the illusion would reestablish itself. If she could pretend long enough that all she needed was the be near him, he would start to seem like he liked her presence again. If she listened to his stories and laughed at his jokes. If just kept touching him and didn't assess, didn't measure, didn't flinch when he touched her. If she resisted the urge to scream, "Liar! Coward!" when he came into the room. If she focused on ... whatever... focused away from, at least, the loneliness. The bitter, crippling ...

No. Focus on peace, compassion, meditation, equanimity. Right. Do that long enough and he'll start looking at you like he's not ... whatever... like he likes you. And you'll believe. The walls will go back up -- the shining, crystal, candy walls of maybe maybe this is real and then you'll go back, back, and stand outside his house and maybe maybe this time... maybe this next time. Maybe.

"Marriage is not just spiritual communion; it is also remembering to take out the trash."
- Joyce Brothers

One of my coworkers is getting married soon, and we're all taking her to lunch to celebrate. She's pretty young, and most of the rest of us have been married for a while. The lady who's organizing the event asked us all to write up some sage marital advice so she could pass our helpful hints along.

At first I sort of blinked at her email, feeling like she'd just asked me for the answer to a difficult calculus problem. But then I thought, "Well, I have managed to stay married for nearly a decade, and nobody's died, become alcoholic, or threatened suicide as a result, so that's got to be a win here, right?"

So, here's what I've sent along to my soon-to-be-wed coworker.

Marriage is always a work in progress, and it always takes care and effort. The most important things are always communicating, always trying to be respectful towards each other, and always being kind to each other. Keeping a good sense of humor helps a great deal, but it's crucial to laugh with your spouse, not at him or her. It's important to encourage each other to do better and to grow as people, but you both need to know you love each other even if you disappoint or fail each other. Don't assume that your spouse surely knows you love him or her: say it, every day.

Building and maintaining trust is crucial. In our culture, we talk about cheating solely in terms of sexual infidelity, but there's so much more to it than that. Cheating is all about breaking promises and betraying trust. For instance, spending money on clothes when you said you wouldn't and hiding the purchases is a kind of cheating. Everyone needs his or her own privacy, of course, but if you find yourself thinking "Well, he/she doesn't need to know about this," that's the time to do a reality check. Keeping secrets and secretly breaking promises drives a wedge of silence between the two of you. Worse, cheating can make a person feel guilt and shame, and that often leads to resentment. Those bad feelings build up and put cracks in a relationship that are hard to repair.

It's better to be brave and have those difficult conversations about your needs and desires and seek compromise instead of hiding things from your spouse. You've chosen each other as your life partners, and you need to feel free to be your most authentic selves with each other, and you need to know you have each other's backs.

Date nights are important. Once you're living together it might seem like intimacy is something that will just automatically happen when you share a bed and table, but it's easy for people to become disconnected because they're occupied with jobs, chores, and other activities. Set aside time for just you and your spouse every week so you can re-connect. The little things matter.

Mar"riage (?), n. [OE. mariage, F. mariage. See Marry, v. t.]

1.

The act of marrying, or the state of being married; legal union of a man and a woman for life, as husband and wife; wedlock; matrimony.

Marriage is honorable in all.
Heb. xiii. 4.

2.

The marriage vow or contract. [Obs.] Chaucer.

3.

A feast made on the occasion of a marriage.

The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king which made a marriage for his son.
Matt. xxii. 2.

4.

Any intimate or close union.

Marriage brokage.
(a) The business of bringing about marriages.
(b) The payment made or demanded for the procurement of a marriage. --
Marriage favors, knots of white ribbons, or bunches of white flowers, worn at weddings. --
Marriage settlement (Law), a settlement of property in view, and in consideration, of marriage.

Syn. -- Matrimony; wedlock; wedding; nuptials. -- Marriage, Matrimony, Wedlock. Marriage is properly the act which unites the two parties, and matrimony the state into which they enter. Marriage is, however, often used for the state as well as the act. Wedlock is the old Anglo-Saxon term for matrimony.

 

© Webster 1913


Mar"riage, n.

In bézique, penuchle, and similar games at cards, the combination of a king and queen of the same suit. If of the trump suit, it is called a royal marriage.

 

© Webster 1913

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