There's a lot of talk about marriage in the media, social media, and even from the pesky Jehova's Witnesses who like to sprinkle magical thinking all over my doorstep every other week. So I thought, "I'm married, I'm opinionated, I have a blog" and as if by magic, my spleen vented itself onto this blog post...
|It took several minutes of searching |
to find my wedding band.
Athena and I are together because we want to be, not because we have to be. I often say that if we had our time over again, we wouldn't get married.
But we would still be together.
The strength of our marriage is an illusion. It is our relationship that is strong.
The little piece of paper signed by God has no bearing on our relationship. We are together because we want to be, and I wouldn't want it any other way.
If, for whatever reason, Athena wanted to call it a day, I would be devastated, but I wouldn't stand in her way or defy her will. She is a fully realised and autonomous person. I respect her agency and sovereignty and wouldn't want her to be forced to stay by using a marriage certificate like a gun to her head. I don't own her and I have no right to think of her as my property.
It hasn't escaped my attention that people in relationships think they own their partner, particularly their wives. As you may (or may not) be aware, marriage has traditionally been a property transaction, where the woman is the product being traded. In Western countries this is progressively improving, but poorer countries still arrange marriages, dowries are paid, and "faulty" wives are returned for refunds, or worse, killed.
I have read a lot of bloggers and news commentators decrying divorce. I can see how divorce is actually better for all marriages.
Traditionally a woman couldn't divorce her husband. With no incentive to be a better husband, many men were the worst of husbands and the their poor wives had to grin and bear it. With the introduction of unilateral divorce, these women are able to escape the bonds of a bad marriage. And husbands are made to be better husbands as a result. Studies have shown significant reductions in female suicide, domestic violence and overall divorce rates since no-fault divorces were introduced.
Obviously the legal side of marriage affords protections to each partner. While I may be talking marriage down, there are many people are being denied simple rights and dignities that most of us take for granted. This is to our collective shame.
I don't see Athena as property because I respect her as a person. Quite often, people stop seeing their spouse as a real-life, independent human being with wants and needs, goals and ideals, hopes and dreams. Never lose the ability to see your spouse as an individual.
In line with this individuality, don't insist that you must know the innermost thoughts and feelings of your spouse. Give them the space to be their own person, to hold a little part of themselves back and know that this space is respected.
I haven't worn my wedding band for the past 14 years, in fact, I don't even know where it is. In some circles, this sends arms flailing and chins wagging. The ring is a relic, it isn't the relationship. By not wearing it, our relationship is still the same as it always was; taking it off changes nothing, a piece of paper changes nothing.
The wedding, the certificates, rings and paraphernalia are just showy gloss covering the real work of art. If pieces are crumbling from the statue, no amount of varnish will save it.
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