Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Evolution (or Devolution, More Like) of Marriage

Last week I was tweeting with one of my friends about marriage. It's nowhere on her radar screen and she's okay with that. She's from Norway, and it's culturally acceptable there to not care about marriage at all. Here in the United States, it's the end all be all of every relationship. Been seeing a guy for a year? Time to start thinking about when he might propose...Those of you who know me well, know that marriage is something that I can take or leave. If I get married, that's cool; and if I don't, that's cool, too. I can already hear the voices in the background murmurring, "What about kids? Doesn't she want kids?" As we all know, you don't have to be married to have a baby. You also don't need to be at the age of consent. I'm not someone who advocates teen pregnancy or having children out of wedlock, but I am someone who knows the ritual of giving birth isn't something I need to partake in
for my life to feel complete.

I was in a serious relatinship for almost five years and within a year of us being together, my boyfriend had already picked out our wedding date, 10/20/2010. He liked the fact that the numbers were a palindrome and he also liked the fact that it would fall on our fifth anniversary. Well folks, we never made it to that fifth anniversary. We broke up about three months before it. Although he had some baggage that he needed to take care of before it was even possible for us to marry, that date loomed large in my future. He was constantly bringing it up, like it was some kind of deadline. A deadline for what? Every marriage that I've had first-hand experience with is one that either: A. should've never happened, or B. should've been dissolved long ago. As for the ones that I've only had a minor brush with, it seems that marriage is very rarely taken seriously. Vows are just words to be spoken in a ceremony that officially says "We're married". Divorce is used as an easy out because nowadays people either get married for the wrong reasons or they don't think it through, which is almost the same thing. The concept of the "starter husband or starter wife" (the same, in concept, as the starter home) has become popular. I know the images of marriage in the 50s and 60s were a sham. There wasn't much for a woman to do but get married and have babies. Any woman that wasn't married by a certain age was considered an old maid. If word got out that a woman had sex out of wedlock, she was considered damaged goods. In no way would I ever want to revert back to that time in history.

Although attitudes have changed in the 21st century, there is still a bit of a stigma to being unmarried. It's more prevalent in some regions of the United States than it is in others. I grew up in the South, so, many times when I've been down for a visit I've been asked when I'm getting married; or people assume that I already am. It's almost as if that should be the defining characteristic of my life. The changing of the times hasn't made most couples any happier in their marriages than their parents or grandparents were. Adultery continues to run rampant. Children are born into toxic households. Work takes precedence over everything. Most wives are expected to go to work outisde the home and still keep house like they've been at home all day. Yep, that's exactly what I wanna sign up for.

Another thing that I struggle with is the whole name-change thing. I actually like being Michelle Stringer. I think it's a great name and it's symmetrical: eight letters in my first name and eight letters in my last name. I have a thing about symmetry. It may have to do with my being a Libra and constantly striving to maintain balance. There are men out there that don't have a problem with their wives keeping their maiden names, but I didn't happen to be in a relationship with one. I may have been persuaded to re-think my stance on changing my last name if his had been a bit more interesting. It wasn't...It was Smith...No disrepect to those of you with the last name Smith. If that's the last name I had been born with, I wouldn't have a problem with it.

As you may have already figured out, I'm an independent woman and very much of an independent thinker. I just wanna be free to be me. The constraints of the average marriage would stifle that. If I could find someone who doesn't mind that all of my official documents will say Michelle Stringer for as long as I live, and doesn't have a problem with me not birthing his babies then we can talk, hahaha!!!!