Marriage in the 21st century?
This message is as old as humanity itself. There is nothing, “Modern” about it at all. In fact the whole notion is very narrow minded and antiquated.
It implies that men are irresponsible. That they are work horses being lead around by women who are only interested in “trapping” them into marriage as a means of servitude. It enforces gender stereotypes and is belittling to both people involved.
I have been married, divorced and remarried and it has been my experience that none of these things are universally true. More than that these very ideals are damaging and sexist on both sides.
Let’s break it down.
-Woman “I want marriage”
As a woman I can very clearly tell you that I was not the least bit interested in getting married.
When my first husband asked me I was 18 years old and had not one single clue what marriage even meant. More than that I didn’t care. I got married with the attitude that it was an experience to be had. We rushed into things and I regretted the decision immediately. Regardless I made it and I stood by my commitment till the day he cut me loose.
My second marriage was after 3 years of being in a committed relationship, at least one year of living together, he proposed 4 times before I agreed and he still ended up walking out a month after we said, “I do”.
In the end we worked things out but my point is that relationships are complex and as unique as the people who are in them. Assuming all women want marriage is at best sexist and at worst just ignorant.
I for one was perfectly happy to just live together. Do I regret the marriage? No. Did I ask for it? No. Was he just blindly lead by the nose into things? No.
The whole idea reeks of a man not taking responsibility for his decisions in the first place.
Obviously both men wanted to marry me, for there own reasons. They made choices and choices have consequence.
In the case of a marriage that consequence is that you have legally tethered yourself to another person. You did that. No one forced you. You decided that person was worthy of a life long commitment when you asked them to marry you. What happens afterwards is a result of your prior judgement and your ability to work together as a couple.
-Woman “I want kids”
Really? Wow this is a REALLY irresponsible stick man we have here. He just arbitrarily goes along with the whims of his little stick figure woman friend doesn’t he?
As for me, I’m not going to say I didn’t want children. When I was a little girl and I imagined my future, children where always in it. Unlike the stereotypical story mine was very different. In my version of “Marcie’s future self” I was a single mother and a business owner. Primarily because the idea of answering so someone else was really not appealing to me. I love my freedom too much for that.
In my first marriage we really didn’t try to have children, at first, we just did what comes naturally. I did get pregnant a number of times. I also had a number of miscarriages.
It was after maybe miscarriage number 4 that my, then, husband began to grandstand about how, “people who don’t want children could have babies left and right but those who wanted children have problems”
It was for attention I’m sure, but none the less he was the one shouting from the rooftops he wanted children. Never mind it was at the expense of my grief.
With the kinds of problems I have I’m fairly convinced he believed I’d never carry a child to term.
Then I got pregnant with our son and his response was, “Are you sure?”
Joy was not the reaction. It fell more into the “oh crap” vein of reality.
If a man doesn’t want children there are plenty of ways he can prevent it from happening. Once again the whole notion is she wanted this and I obliged her. I did everything, “she” wanted and it was never “good enough”.
She didn’t just want kids,on some level he did too, otherwise they wouldn’t have happened. It takes two parts for that equation.
…And what’s more, these children need parents. Grow up, get over yourself and be one. Don’t use them like pawns in your arrogant little stick figure man pity party.
Sections 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 are all dramatics.
Marriage, any relationship where people share a life together, is give and take. One thing I have found to be common in a lot of cases is that men often come into marriage with the notion that all they need to do is go to work and the woman should take care of the rest. Really the total opposite of what seemed to be illustrated above.
About a year before my first husband and I split up I said to him, “You will not be happy until I am taking care of you, the house, our child, working full time and going to school so that all you have to do is go to work and come home.”
Do you know what he said to me?
He said, “You’re absolutely right. That is exactly what I want.” And he meant it.
In my first marriage I stood by as the doting wife for years. I suffered mental and emotional abuse to no end. He regularly carried on affairs and I stayed because I believed that “love made all things possible” and my commitment to my marriage was absolutely pathological. I was determined that it would not fail.
The last year my ex and I where together he was gone overseas to Iraq. He went on leave and spent his first week with his girlfriend in Raleigh. I found out about it and confronted him. His second week of leave he came home to WA and told me he wanted a divorce and that I would leave with nothing, not even my son.
Now of course that didn’t happen. I packed my things and took my son and left for home. But to hear it told by some men I should have just rolled over and let him have it all. I should have just let him throw me away like trash.
To those men? You’ve lost your mind.
It seems that men want modern standards for men that in turn put women “back in their place”
I’ve got news for you. Fair is fair.
A man and a woman are autonomous. Complete and individual beings. Marriage does not change that. Often people go into marriage presuming ownership over the other person. Or at the very least with an understanding of certain expectations they have that exist only in their mind. Most people don’t make clear those expectations to the other person. Most people run blindly into a relationship only to get angry when the other person doesn’t conform.
And then there is that case of this whole, they “complete me” notion. If you need someone to “complete” you as a person you should probably stay on the market awhile longer because your not done cooking yet, ok?
These undisclosed expectations and behaviors related to “incompleteness” create challenges people must work threw in order to make relationships work. Some will make it threw. Some wont.
When a person gets to the place of divorce, regardless of the how’s or whys it boils down to the fact that one or both people found a boundary they couldn’t overcome or a need that wouldn’t be met. They go threw cycles of hope and despair over and over until finally one day they wake up and realize there desire to leave is stronger than there desire to stay.
Divorce is not about love. Divorce is when a couples working relationship ends and life becomes equitable division of assets. It becomes business and business isn’t personal.
One example I can give was in my own case. My ex husband promised me he’d give me half of the BHA (military housing allowance) as his financial child support. I agreed. I’m sure he thought he was getting one over on me because truthfully the BHA was mine. Soldiers receive a much larger sum based on the existence of dependents. He was claiming both me and our son. Really it was mine and I was only interest in being fair.
Fast forward a few months and the BHA stopped coming to me. I filed for child support. He got furious.
I see it often. Men who are getting divorced getting mad because in thier diluted minds they shouldn’t have to pay “her” anything. Newsflash, you’re supporting your child.
As divorce happens laws vary from state to state. Don’t like the laws where you live? Lobby to change them or move.
My husband and I discussed this whole thing this morning and he had a couple of enlightened points.
One, men often claim with regards to reproductive rights that they want equal rights under the law. What they really want is equal right to be irresponsible.
If a man has a child he should take responsibility for that child’s upbringing. Part of that upbringing is a financial burden. That’s reality.
Let’s move on to the next part.
So what if the woman cheats? What if the man cheats? It goes both ways. Obviously if a woman feels her needs aren’t being met at home there is a reason. Same for a man.
One possible reason? You made a bad marriage choice.
Another possible reason? They really are not getting their needs met at home.
Marriage is not an egocentric thing. It is a working partnership. If you can’t understand that it’s probably not something you should be considering.
Let’s look at panels 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13
Panel number 9.
Mr and Mrs stick figure couple are having serious martial problems and a breakdown in their communication. Mr Facebook guy leers into the scene.
Mr Facebook guy is obviously being presented as a predator. Mr Facebook guy is looking to interject himself where he doesn’t belong and see what he can get away with.
Now let’s look at this objectively.
Mr Facebook can be and often is Miss Facebook. Don’t be fooled. Predators come in both gender packages. Women are just as likely to see an opportunity to try and “steal” a man just as much as men are. Men are also just as likely to seek the ear of another woman.
We have before us a couple, regardless of gender specifics who are obviously having deep issues and communication problems. Then comes in a listening ear. That listening ear can be any gender and still cause dissension in a relationship. That listening ear can even be a friend who’s not working off any kind of agenda. They can just simply be a well meaning and caring person. Ultimately the person who’s seeking advice and comfort will make decisions based on their perspective and their experience but those who are listening need to be careful about the advice they give or the judgements they make.
The bottom line is that no one really knows the inner workings of a relationship outside of those people in it. Trying to presume those inner workings is akin to presuming yourself to be a psychic. You can see a possible outcome before the person but that person can always choose a different path than you expect. We all have free will. We all make choices.
Returning to our caricature for reference let’s return to Facebook guy, “the predator”. A predator knows what they’re doing. They’re choosing to interject themselves. They are being advantageous. They see the cracks and their whole intention is to break down the wall and destroy it for their own selfish gain. In a way it’s really a form of entrapment if the intention is there.
In cases of infidelity intention means a lot.
Let me present some examples.
When a man is a habitual cheater the purpose is often not intimacy issues but a pathological need to feel powerful. He gets off on the idea of being able to manipulate people. This man is the kind who really shouldn’t be married at all.
Another case happens when a man feels neglected. He is in a vulnerable state and a predatory type of woman presents herself in the picture. She says the right things, does the right things and eventually he may begin to believe he made a mistake being with the woman he’s with. I call it, “tripping on your dick.”
It, “just happens” and it was a “mistake”
Mistakes do happen. Once. More than once and I consider it a developing habbit.
Now women are no different. The same applies to them. They can be habitual cheaters, who do it as a way to feed their ego or they can also just make a “mistake”.
One example would be my husband’s first wife. She was a chronic cheater. She blamed his lack of availability. She said he was gone too much, worked too much, was never there for her. He changed jobs, tried to be home more and did everything he thought was right to please her. The problem is, this kind of woman is not someone who you can please. This is a woman who was having an affair from the time they got married and continued to do so their whole marriage. Someone like that isn’t interested in making a relationship work. They’re just using you for what they can acquire from you and let me be clear both men and women do this.
Like his first wife my first husband was also a chronic cheater. In both cases I imagine they where looking for surrogate parents. In other words they didn’t want a relationship, they wanted a void filled.
How do we decide to deal with these issues? It’s a matter of boundaries. What will you accept? What won’t you accept?
The fact of the matter is that having a sexual affair does not automatically indicate a divorce. The reason being is that, in the case of an affair we might classify as genuine “mistakes”, the affair is a symptom rather than the disease.
In the case of men they often feel emasculated on some level and they don’t know how to communicate that to their partner. Another woman recognizes his thirst to feel masculine and thus a seed is planted.
In the case of a woman they often feel neglected on some level, often a lack of intimacy or sensuality, and they think the way to address this is to “talk about it” because that’s what women do. The problem is the man often perceives this as her emasculating him.
Thus the cycle begins.
A person can only feel mistreated for so long before their unmet need becomes an overwhelming ache. When you add temptation to the mix that’s when situations like panel 13 happen.
I’m not saying that stick figure woman is not responsible for having sex with Facebook man. She made a poor choice. However let’s look back at panel 11 where stick figure man got out his golf clubs and decided to go “check out”.
It could be argued stick figure woman was being a nag but if stick figure man wanted to work things out with stick figure woman he might have considered her verbalizations a less traumatic symptom that he could have addressed before she messed up. In other words, most affairs are not random. Often women have affairs after extended lengths of monogamy. They love their husbands but their needs are truly wanting. They feel they’ve attempted to communicate and have failed. They don’t want a divorce but they do want to “feel” something.
None of that makes it right and stick figure man is well within his rights to say, “You crossed a line and it’s past my boundaries.” But it’s a thought one might consider.
Ultimately when a relationship gets to this stage it’s probably already beyond repair but that depends on those involved more than anything.
Now panel 14 was a poorly managed scenario.
When stick figure man expressed his pain, stick figure woman should have owned up to her mistake first and then allowed him space to decide if he wanted to resolve things. She also should accept with graciousness his decision to leave if that is the result.
Obviously that relationship failed. Mature people pick up the pieces, find amicable circumstance and move on.
So now let’s address panel 15. Miss money bags.
Let me begin by saying in my state if you cheat on your spouse Miss money bags isn’t happening. North Carolina set the precedence for laws regarding alienation of affection. Not only will the cheater be without recourse but the law was at one time that the injured spouse could also sue the man or woman who participated in the affair with their spouse.
Is that still the case? I’m not sure but if you want to look into it by all means go ahead.
I do understand that certain states pay exorbitant amounts of alimony and in some cases it goes on for life. That, I personally feel, is ridiculous.
Child support on the other hand I am strongly in favor of but in certain cases reform does need to be considered.
Those are all separate issues though and frankly because laws vary so much from state to state it would be to much to try and address them all here today. Like I said before, don’t like a law? Get involved to change it. It’s your right and civil duty to do so.
In regards to my own divorce all I wanted was my son and to be left alone. I moved back home to NC from WA with nothing but my son, 2 suitcases and a foot locker. I left everything else in my home behind. I took a minimum wage job. Then I took two jobs. Then my ex actually sued me for custody.
It wasn’t about his son. It was about control. He wanted our child so he could continue to have a sense of control and ownership over me. He even said he was going to make me pay him child support.
Threw it all I had to cash out life insurance and borrow from friends and relatives to pay attorney fees. At the end of it all the judge actually asked him why he was wasting everyone’s time.
The only thing I got in my divorce was a standard custody agreement giving me primary and him secondary custody. I also received a little bit of child support that has been historically unreliable. His son sees him maybe once a year? Honesty though I can’t remember the last time he was here. He has every right to see him every other weekend and for two weeks in the summer but chooses not too. In a day and age where I can talk to soldiers overseas via Skype he rarely even bothers to call.
At the end of the day things happen and marriages fail. You can set yourself in a place of being a martyr or you can be an adult and accept life’s realities.
Marriage is not, “They lived happily ever after.”
It’s more like, “they grow happier ever after”
The key word being, “grow”
You see the fairytale lead you to believe marriage was the end but marriage is just another part of the journey.
My current husband and I both came threw divorce and out on the other side. I’d like to think we’re a pretty good match now but it’s actually taken a lot of work. On both sides.
I understand his need for encouragement and a feeling of appreciation. He understands my need for freedom.
I joke that sometimes he gives me enough rope to hang myself over and over. He doesn’t care that I go out and he doesn’t seem to care that I talk to other guys. He says its because if somethings going to happen, it’s going to happen. At the end of the day he knows I’m going to be right beside him and that’s what matters to him.
If Mr and Mrs Stick figure work out in the end, then good. Divorce isn’t always the end of a relationship. But if they don’t then they where probably only meant to be together for a season rather than a lifetime and that’s OK too.
When the end of our lives come what’s important is the condition of our heart. The rest is a matter of detail.