Blearily, I Write Briefly of Marriage

So B's been away for the weekend, being a crafty kid up north. There are things I like about it when she goes away for a day now and again; basically, I can indulge in the stuff she doesn't like (i.e. pasta, staying up late, the movies that I insist on watching 200+ times in a row.) But when she's gone, particularly for more than a day, I remember the kind of hidden, mostly unsung advantages of cohabitation, the fact that having someone you care a whole lot about close at hand keeps you honest and healthy and happy in a way that I, for one, am not able to pull off alone.

I've been reading Ibsen for the class I'm teaching in this term and it reminds me that there has been real, meaningful progress in the last century or so. It's true that there's absolutely no reason to get married any more beyond a few legal trappings, from a certain perspective. But from another perspective, I like how the people I know of my generation approach marriage. There's a (existential!) sincerity in choosing to get married when no one's making you, when the social pressure is so much less than it used to be and the decision to do it comes only from the people who are actually involved. I tried and failed to explain it to a friend a while ago; either I'm not articulate enough or the whole thing is just hard to pin down. I think my point is that marriage is one factor, out of many, that can contribute to the happiness of the people involved, and it's better able to do so now that it's not a requirement, at least in these happy liberal cities of the left coast.

On an unrelated note, the REAL start of the term is tomorrow (last week was kind of a teaser.) And I'm both dreading it and starting to feel my patented grad-psychosis start up, the mental disorder that keeps me sane and functioning while reading giant piles of monographs and squeezing onto crowded buses every day. We might have to go on strike; I'm not sure if I'm supposed to post about that, so I'll just leave it there. I really hope we don't have to. I have a lot, lot more to do and read this year than I did last year on top of that, but I think that's a good thing. I'm terrible about doing things I don't have to do, so having a year of no teaching was nice but ultimately counter-productive.

Pile on the QE reading list. Give me sections to lead. It keeps me honest.


Dolce Vita said...

I understand what you mean. Because there seems to be fewer pressures associated with "marriage" (or whatever you call it - because that term comes with a lot of baggage), it takes on a different meaning. I think the understanding of choice means that individuals who do this can imbue it with personal significance.

Having said that I have to acknowledge a few points. I think there is still a tremendous pressure on people to marry (and/or to settle into a monogamous relationship).

Also, there is somewhere in the neighborhood of 1200 individual rights (and liberties) that come with a simple marriage contract. I was astounded by the number. I wonder if people would enter into this contract as readily if these were all listed on their marriage certificate.

And finally, my statistical note, when looking at heterosexual couples, marriage extends a man's life by about 10 years (the same cannot be said for women).

kungfuramone said...

Yeah, the concept is still pretty strange when you look at it from the 50,000 foot view: "we love each other so much we got the STATE involved!!!" :]

And I've heard that statistic too. I believe it. That was kind of my original impetus for writing, that I take terrible care of myself compared to how I live when B and I are in it together.