The marriage contract

Good Enough

I feel safe in tackling this issue now that it’s already hit the website Good Enough Mother.

On top of the weekly segment that runs on Rene Syler’s site – featuring the same title of my blog here – I’ve recently joined the group of men that she affectionately calls her “Good Enough Guys”.  The debate that they asked all of us to weigh in on this week really stuck with me . . . so much so that I decided I should post more on it here.

An opinion in the New York Times last week implied that the idea of “until death do us part” is “outdated” and unnecessary.  The author believes that marriage, being simply a contract, should have an expiration date like any other contract.  If it’s going well, simply renegotiate.  It’s coldly logical.

I highly disagree with it, too.

You can read my comments in the above link, certainly.  My point in them, though, was similar to all the Good Enough Guys.  The point isn’t the contract of marriage it’s why you get married.

I can hear some of you, the debaters and the nay-sayers in the interwebs complaining about why I’m saying here.  “He can certainly say that, he’s lost his wife.  He met the expiration date.  It’s all over for him, it’s easy for him to talk.”  I actually have heard that comment when I defended marriage before.  I was offended by it then.  I’m more offended by it now.

The reason I bring this up is because to call marriage a simple contract relegates the institution to a mere set of numbers and letters.  Your marriage here is simply something you do.  It has an expiration date and if it’s not working out you re-negotiate the contract or you break it and pay the remainder of the contract off.  What it fails to account for is the emotions.  It fails to even take love into account.  It fails to take the reasons for marriage for account.

When I met Andrea I was feeling low, sure, but more than that I was hiding behind a wall I’d created for myself.  I couldn’t find ways to become the person I wanted to be so I hid behind an exterior that I disliked anyway.  When I met Andrea for the first time I was sure she’d be like so many other women who took one look at me, assumed I was a small town nobody, and walked past huffing as she went.  Instead, she spent time with me and talked with me.  When we became friends – which wasn’t long – she made me come out from behind the wall.  She didn’t coax me out, she literally hooked her arm in mine and dragged me out into the light.

As a result I not only became her friend but friends with her friends and nicer to others.  I saw my own flaws as the mortar for that wall’s blocks not the influence of others.

But after we were married things weren’t perfect.  Never were.  Andrea wasn’t the easiest person to deal with on a regular basis.  We were never on time for anything, which was maddening for me.  She couldn’t keep her nose out of something if she had an opinion which drug us into many other arguments that we really didn’t need to be part of.  She hated being alone and wanted me to pay attention to her – even when I was on stage.  She would have bad things happen and rather than look for sympathy or help would take her frustration and anger out on me because it was easier.  She had an insane amount of jealousy toward women who wanted to be friends with me, even though they all knew full well I was married and in love.

But the marriage wasn’t all those bad things.  It was also long walks in the Fall listening to the leaves crunch under our feet.  It was amazing holidays and beautiful decorations with very little thought on my part.  It was tenderness and care when I had the absolute worst moments in my life.  It was making me see that the person I saw in the mirror was actually there, somewhere, able to come out, I just needed to let him.

So when the article comes saying marriage doesn’t work most the time anyway I beg to differ.  I had a friend – someone who maybe didn’t agree all the time and who drove me mad sometimes, but I loved those differences and maddening things.  Marriage is work, folks, and if there’s a known expiration there’s no incentive to put in the work.  Why would you?  It’s simply pandering to the temporary short attention-span that our society seems intent on breeding into everyone.  I laugh when people use “family values” as a campaign slogan and get angry at those who scoff at people who value it.  I don’t care if you’re gay, straight, purple, red, green, white, Greek, Italian, English or Persian.  Love is universal.

So on this first post after my blogiversary I choose to defend the institution I entered.  Yes, my marriage ended, but I’d have gladly taken on much, much more.  Now that it’s over, I can look at myself in the mirror and at least know, as crazy as it was, it was a success.  Only time will tell if it’s something I enter again.

A wedding photo – one of our happiest days

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