Wednesday, October 24, 2007

WedLOCK

Get it – you are locked up when you are married….

This is going to be a very long post, so put your big girl panties on and deal with it (or just hit that "back" icon above).

Here is the thing that got me started thinking about this subject: A woman wrote to me recently (based on her perspective of what she has read on my blog) and said that I am, “just looking for a man to marry me”, implying that I haven’t found anyone who would want to marry me; and/or that I am lonely. Me giggles. That’s just plain hooey. The “lonely” part of it doesn’t even enter into the equation as I am rarely alone and most of the time, I am just too damn busy. (I do miss my family, but that is a different story.) Although I see through to the veiled truth of her own situation through her words to me, the question of marriage keeps bringing itself up. For example, in questions from former colleagues or people who I bump into who ask, “Did you ever settle down?” What does “settle down” mean? My understanding of “settle” refers to settling for something of lesser quality. Settle + down (to me) relates to sitting on a sofa/settling in for the night of TV watching and Pizza Hut. I do the latter about once every 2 weeks. The former: never.

I have also been asked so many times over the years (that I have lost count), “Why aren’t you married yet?” (occasionally followed by “… you’re pretty. Men are stupid not to ask.”; placing beauty/appearance as a key decision-making factor: How long would a marriage based on that superficiality last?) I have heard the particular (culturally ingrained?) philosophy over the years, mostly from women of Arab or Indian cultures; that a woman SHOULD get married; as perhaps she is less if she is without a man (I have found many women are more!) I am rarely asked similar questions in the States.

In this part of the world, you aren’t “complete” without a man. I can say that I am complete all by myself: I am independent, I make more money than many of the men I meet; I have all the stuff I need materialistically – because I bought it for myself. If I need a gorgeous piece of jewelry or a vacation – I pay for it with money I earn; and no one tells me what to do with my paycheck (I will send you photos of my shoe closet!). Marriage “completing” a woman, I think, depends on the value a culture places on marriage as the “be all” of relationships. Yes, religion does play a crucial role also; personal religious beliefs determine the course of many peoples’ actions. The legal system in the Middle East, for example, places strong value on marriage and doesn’t recognize (or allow by penalty of legal recourse/jail) children born out of wedlock, nor does it recognize (or allow by penalty of legal recourse/jail) couples living together. In the States where I come from; there are laws governing paternity and palimony (ending a long-term live-together relationship). Does the US go too far? I think these laws have come into place as it is about personal choice: of religion, of lifestyle, etc. If people make different choices, laws are set into place to ensure that people are treated fairly regardless of their domestic choice.

First, I think marriage is great for those who want to be married. In theory, I think it is a wonderful arrangement. I just haven’t been able to place a practical use for it in terms of my personal situation.

Marriage scares the hell out of me if you must know the truth. I almost never answer the questions honestly; I choose avoidance. If I answered honestly, it would divulge too much about my character, insecurities, and observances. When asked, “Why aren’t you married?” I prefer to answer with something flippant like, “Because I’m a lesbian. Leave me alone.” Or “Gee, I guess I just haven’t found the right one yet….” “The love of my life died in 1999.” All crap (except for the latter, actually, but we wouldn’t be married if he was still alive). I’m scared that I will be trapped like a caged animal in despair; pacing up and down with wide, sorrowful eyes. I’ve seen too much, heard too much, grown “wise” at the hands of time. I have seen much more unhappiness and futility in marriage than lasting, loving relationships. The older I get, the more my knowledge of this fact becomes cemented.

When I hear the Kuwaiti wedding processions driving by my window, with car lights flashing, horns honking, and the grooms’ friends rejoicing; the cynical voice in my head takes over, ‘There goes another divorce waiting to happen.’ I question my own reasoning, but there it is – stuck in my head, and so matter-of-fact that many times it is just second nature.

I probably should have gotten married to one of the multitude of those guys in my youth who were offering up what appeared to be all the right things. When you’re young, your list of requirements is short (and your list of suitors long). My list of requirements now reads like Amazon’s home web page; even if I could figure out what all my requirements are, there is a lot of searching involved and it requires a lot of time and effort. Sometimes you just want to get off the net and forget the whole thing as too much trouble.

In all, I think the magic number for proposals I have received (of the serious kind) is around 20. I have a collection box of engagement rings (as Zsa Zsa Gabor says, “I have never hated a man enough to give back a ring.”) Most often, admittedly through my own fault, I didn’t carry through. I have never been convinced that all the right elements were there; and that we would have stayed together. Perhaps it is even a matter of relinquishing control over my own life.

I admire people who take a leap of faith and get married; perhaps even if they have doubts. Some people just love being married and don’t really think about the outcome. Some fight through their difficulties and have long-lasting marriages for years and years. I would love to be in my eighties and with a man I had loved most of my life; sitting in rocking chairs next to each other or going for little walks together because we couldn’t stand to be apart from each other. I love that ideology. Our own individual fears of growing old alone force us all to crave for that time of relationship I think.

I also admire the fact that statistically, married people have sex more often than single people. Important factor in consideration. Especially, it seems, to many of the younger generation.

However and again: I have fear of being with someone for years and years (not just for the statistic of having more sex with the same person for years and years – I shiver) for the potential of losing them by divorce or death. I fear the loss, grief, and depression (that I have seen so many times in so many relationships – regardless of where it is in the world). I don’t know how people can manage to survive it. I don’t know if I could.

I take marriage of any kind very seriously and temporary marriage (mutaa) counts in my head (and scares me a lot less as it is easier to get out of). I have been married through mutaa and I can’t say that I even believe in it (again, this is my personal opinion/interpretation, but I don’t believe that going into something that you know will end is really marriage), but when it is brought to me by someone who does believe in it, I take it very seriously and keep my end of the bargain. For all extensive purposes, I conducted myself as if I was married (as in court, on paper, whatever). It is a promise between you, your mate and God. The end to even that form of marriage has been a blow to me and very difficult to recover from.

How could it be possible to devote a large portion of your life, body and soul to someone; have children with them, and then have it come to an end? Statistically, and very much unfortunately, this is the result: According to the Kuwait Ministry of Justice as reported in September of 2007, 53% of marriages in Kuwait end in divorce (pronounced “de-voice” in Kuwait); the divorce rate in America, as reported by www.divorcerate.org lists the US divorce rate at 41% for first marriages (percentage gets higher the more marriages you have). Perhaps people had doubts from the beginning; maybe they knew that (like mutaa) the marriage would only be for a period of time and wouldn’t last; and yet decided to get married and have kids; a tremendous leap of faith. Who knows – maybe it is smoke and mirrors? None of us knows what goes on behind the closed doors of other people’s homes; or even within the depths of our individual psyches.

I have scoffed at the (supposed) loose morals of people who “don’t believe in marriage” – who stay together for years and even have children together – with no formal (court) marriage. My opinion has always been, “Why don’t they just get married formally if they have been together for many years?” I am beginning to understand their thought process, however. Why should you find it so necessary to have a paper when you love someone and can make a long-lasting commitment without it (ok, in places where it is legal)? Why add the pressure of a formal marriage when things are going along so well? The marriage certificate binds you into a commitment you may not be able to get out of; either economically, emotionally, etc. For me personally, I suffer in captivity of any kind. I want to rebel and strike out against it. On the flip side, I have been so blinded in love in my life that I wished for it like a moth to a flame; only to be very thankful later when I wasn’t burnt by it.

I make jokes about finding “the right guy” or a “billionaire in his 90s with no living children” to marry, but seriously – I have found (and am finding) these guys/they have found me (well, not in his 90s with no living children, but yes – a few billionaires). For whatever reason I had at the time, I didn’t do it. Further, money really doesn’t factor in because I know first hand that it can’t buy your happiness (am I right, Tawhore?). Things are short-lived.

I’m not on a hunt to “find some man to marry me”. It isn’t HIS decision; its mine if it comes to that. I’m not waving a banner saying, “pick me, pick me!” If it happens, it happens. In my case, quite honestly, most of the time it isn’t the catch; it is the thrill of the hunt. If it ever feels right – or maybe if I can muster up all the faith that I think it would take, then maybe someday I’ll go for it. If not, even with my concerns for my future, I am sure that I will be just fine without a marriage certificate from a government entity.

13 comments:

Purgatory said...

I lost my panties, sorry.

Joel said...

About that Indian culture part; getting their daughter married ASAP is in every parents mind. Woman get married at the age of 21-22 itself. If they are not married by 25 or 26(grace-period), that's it. They are considered as outcast no matter which part of the world they decide to migrate to!

And whom do they pick? 35+ males with their hip size reading 50(or more).

Oh, they don't pick they are forced too.

Joel said...

By the way, it was fun reading it!

Pinky said...

Young, free, single and happy 99% of the time. Men, as I have found out to my peril once too many times, are high maintainance and hard work. Nice to have but not always worth it!!!
Smiles
Pinky
p.s. check your email!!!

Life said...

why can't I comment under other names/urls :(

anyway, what the hell was that!! lol you have more views and opinions on the these marriage matters than anyone I know! one time you think you don't want to get married, then you want to but you have doubts, then you want to be married to take long walks with him when you're 90!

you know what I think, from reading this whole post (yes believe it or not, I read it all.. and you know what? I enjoyed every bit of it!), I think you want to get married, you want and crave the lifestyle itself, you want someone to be there for you through it all, but you're letting other people's failures get to you! who cares about stats!

I know, lets say, around 100 couple.. you know how many of them got divorced? 1! honest to God only 1 couple! screw the stats.

now concerning the arab world and how women are obliged to get married. I think this is only half the truth, coz we think EVERY person should get married! women AND men. its only natural for people to want to have a partner in life. and since we're very much following our beliefs then marriage is a must. :) I don't see anything wrong with that.

I loved this blog!

Desert Girl said...

Purg - I think I saw them on the Gulf Road on the way home tonight...

Joel - I would rather be an outcast!

Pinky - Are we related? :)

Blueberri said...

I can't seem to make up my mind about the marriage thing yet. My mother is freaking out since I'm 24 and unmarried, but I just don't see myself married to a stranger. I think I'll be ready for it when I find the right person.

Qatar Cat said...

Haha well here's a paradox for you: I am happily married but I totally agree with everything you said!

Desert Girl said...

Blueberri - I have underwear older than you are! :) LOOOOOOL! It is kind of a double-edged sword: Get married when you are young and have a fresh/untainted view of the world, yet take the risk that you will change and grow and discover later that you made the wrong choices.... or wait till you are older and realize that maybe you should have just gone for it and taken the risk. The problem with waiting is that you will find that there are less good/available men out there in your age group (read my blog archives.

Qatar Cat - I like those words in the same sentence "happily" and "married". It gives me hope! :)

Desert Girl said...

Life: You are right - ideally, I would love to get married if I thought it would work for me. I just don't know if it would.

Also about the Arab world - you are right again. My guy friends feel the pressure too (but then they aren't as worried about their eggs being fried!)

ammaro.com said...

i got married at 24. i think it was too early, to be honest. shoulda waited a few more years, but hey, thats just how life is.

society here judges that a girl should get married by 18 or 19, but recently thats changed to about 22 or 23 (with people going to college, ie, by the time they graduate)

26 and upwards is pretty late, and anything over 30 is ridiculous (well, according to society anyway).

i think its stupid. 30 or around that is a pretty good age. you've experienced enough of life to be able to make a pretty rational decision when it comes to these things.

Blueberri said...

LOL ok how old are you?

no seriously, i've had some proposals the traditional way and when I sit with the guy it just feels too damn awkward.

Ideally, I want to be in a relationship filled with love, understanding and good sex before I take the risk of marrying him!

Qatar Cat said...

I got married very young, at 24, against my parents' wishes. They thought I was too young to marry! And now, 8 years down the road, we are still very happy together to our both parents' delight. So I can't say that 24 is early or late, it all depends on the person you marry. Age is pretty much irrelevant, really. You can marry at 18 and live happily ever after, or at 38 after much consideration, and divorce within a month. There is no full proof recipe for marriage. One thing I would recommend is studying first, marrying later :)