Why I Am Conflicted About Marriage

I have previously debated the idea that cheating is the deadliest relationship sin, but I think there is more to it than that.  You can always find a reason to break up if you wanted to, but the trick is staying together.  We are self invested individuals constantly looking out for the number one, so to morph our thinking to including someone else’s interests into that equation almost doesn’t seem natural.  And yet we seek the social more often than the solitary situations.  Western society wants us to find an opposite sexed partner, marry, then have 2.5 children and never talk about the affairs that made it possible to maintain this façade of happiness.  Because the ideal of staying faithful to one partner is intrinsic to the foundation of rearing well rounded children.  Yes, this is what many of us want and need to believe.

I have heard a few times as of late this idea of being loyal to a partner for piece of mind, even when faced with a reality that the basic need for happiness are no longer being met.  So it almost would seem that marriage is only artificial glue, created by society to aid us in obtaining safety, love, security and absolute happiness, with no real science to keep it bonded for life.  But these may merely be the words of a marriage cynic.  Shouldn’t the dream be to ride off into the sunset and get married to your prince charming which would result in all your dreams coming true?  I personally made a vow when I got engaged a few years ago that nothing in the relationship would change, that we would still be who we were and that marriage was merely a way to throw a big party and celebrate our current happiness.  If I was to get engaged again, I would only accept on a similar basis, that marriage would not be about changing the relationship, just celebrating its strength.
So I ask, what actions are we missing from our partners that would allow us the freedom to love and be loved without the sunset and the white horse?  Why do I feel like society will judge my relationship until I validate it with marriage and children?  I am battling with myself and this idea that I need a stable commitment from my partner in order to truly be free to experience a few “outside of the norm” pleasures.  And the battle stems from not ever having a true reason not to trust that he will be true to his word, versus the implication that if we are not married or living together in a stable environment that he is free to walk away at any time.  But the reality is the even married or co-cohabiting the walking away is still just as easy.  Financially you will take a hit, but we are free to still do as we please.  I think the only solution is to default to the idea that we are responsible for merely making ourselves happy.  And perhaps hope that over time the conscious thought comes to include that person with whom you have been with and that they want to include you in a ceremony in front of family and friends. 
Let me honestly express a great fear, being that I may be risking the happy ever after fantasy that I am not sure I want, for the open relationship that I have found.  But knowing what I know now, I cannot possibly close my eyes to the freedom I have and go back to a life of monogamy.  There are incredible challenges in every relationship especially when it comes to planning the future.  And while I do envy the couples, who right from the start wanted the 2.5 kids, white picket fence and the golden retriever in the back yard.  I personally have never experienced that type of symmetry in myself, and therefore in my partners.  Life is too fluid and so full of possibilities that I lack the resolve to settle for any one path in life.  I love options, and I love juggling many different situations at once to find the best possible fit for the moment.  And yet there is a sadness knowing that my relationship is not “real” until that ring is on my finger and I have said my I do’s.  This isn’t a position that I stringently want to fight for my right to be acknowledged in a loving relationship, outside the confines of marriage.  Just more to express that my current attempt is to love as fully as I can with or without marriage.  I know that this post is a little all over the place in thought process, however I think there is purpose in not having a solidified view on the subject of marriage just yet.

3 thoughts on “Why I Am Conflicted About Marriage”

  1. k,

    Marriage changes nothing in a relationship. I have been married for four years, and the only thing that is different is that I have a piece of paper in my safe with both our names on it.

    I love my spouse immensely, our relationship is rock-solid and I know that no matter what I have an amazing partner to share my life with. I have absolutely no doubt that I will be with my partner for the rest of my life. Yet I am of the train of thought that marriage is obsolete. It is a tradition founded in religious conventions, based on ownership and economic ties. Some countries have "registered partnerships"and although I know that the implications of being one-half of a registered partnership would be exactly the same as those carried by being a spouse, I am drawn toward this idea. By simply changing the language surrounding the union of two people, it is given a different meaning in my eyes. So perhaps this will help you sort through your feelings in the same way that it helped me, to know that for me (as a monogamish atheist) my marriage is a partnership registered with the government of Canada, rather than a covenant with God.

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