"Marriage Isn't For Me": A Rebuttal
Recently, a blog has been circulating the internet that starts out with these words: “Marriage is not for me.” It’s a compelling hook, especially since the first few words of the blog identify the writer as a newly married man. We instinctively want to shake the guy before he’s even written his first paragraph in defense of his poor new bride.
The blog goes on to stress the message, which is essentially: “marriage is not for me, it’s for my spouse.” He goes on to talk about how (thanks to a frank talk with his father) he is now conscious of marriage being a selfless act, an act of giving rather than receiving, and an act of compassion for his partner.
On the surface, it’s a very “feel-good” blog. It is Hallmark-card sweet and offers the quick turn of phrase and play with words that we associate with witticisms-turned-wisdom. Superficially, they make sense. They offer clarity.
But, what happens when we analyze them deeper and ask if they’re really true?
I admit that before I met Guo Jian I didn’t believe in marriage, especially before same-sex marriage became legal in Canada, but even afterwards, in defense of my queer families that are scattered around the globe. How could I endorse an exclusive institution in my own private life? Doing so felt homophobic.
Then I developed a partnership with someone whose culture and life’s trajectory insisted on “marriage before children.” For him, marriage wasn’t a romantic notion as much as it was a legitimizing one. I know for a fact that he didn’t get married in order to make me happy; he got married because it was what he knew he needed to do to formalize our relationship within his culture and family. The fact that he loved (and loves) me was not affected by our getting married; it pre-existed.
For me, my decision to marry him wasn’t about pleasing him or pleasing his family and culture either; to be perfectly honest, it was about securing a visa! Anyone who has lived in China without a permanent work visa knows that the Chinese system for foreign visas is an ever-changing nightmare. And, by extension, I admit that I liked being identified as “the one” in his eyes—the one worthy of a life commitment. Are those first reasons selfish reasons to marry? Was I wrong to marry him when it benefitted me and my ego? I’ll concede that I stepped around my previous political views on marriage in order to express my respect for his culture, too, but that’s not exactly a selfless act of love; it’s more about mutual human respect.
The thing that resonates as the real *CRAP* in that blog is that the writer suggests he has completely put himself aside to be with his wife in marriage. He writes that he was anxious and afraid and had decided that marriage “wasn’t for him,” but that his father’s quick turn of phrase made him realize that he had to go through with getting married for the sake of his wife (and future family)—a gift to her of his love and support. THEN, he goes on to acknowledge that his wife will make a great mother and that she has been nothing but emotionally supportive of him throughout his struggles, but doesn’t attach these bonuses to his list of benefits as her husband. In other words, he is clearly getting something out of it too, but doesn’t claim that. Their marriage is obviously as much for him as it is for her. Otherwise, how could it be a sustainable partnership?
Let’s face it: marriage is hard. It’s about give and take and acceptance rather than intolerance or control. Our spouses are never perfect and nor are we. After the honeymoon phase is over in any relationship, marriage or not, the real bedrock of love comes from a give and take, a “live and let live” attitude that is the source of the real love. Sometimes my husband drives me absolutely crazy and I want nothing to do with him—in any way—and sometimes I do the same to him, I know.
A lasting partnership is built on the understanding that we have chosen to be with each other at this stage in our progression as human beings and that this choice is one we have agreed to live with. In the end, it will make us equally happy and sad, frustrated and liberated, but such is love.
If anyone ever chose to be with me in something so major as marriage simply because “it would make me happy” and not because it would make him or her happy, I’d rather they didn’t. I’d rather they just walked away and grew a spine.
We have to do what makes ourselves happy before we can ever make anyone else happy; otherwise, how are we supposed to relate to their happiness?
Don’t misunderstand me, I wish them well. I wish everyone well! But we have to speak up when the Internet starts dumbing down our lives. Let’s commit to questioning these convenient witticisms for whether or not wisdom truly lies within them.