Remember the song we sang in grade school?
Kim and Buck-y
sittin’ in a tree
First comes Love
then comes Marriage
then comes Baby in a Baby Carriage.
Then Kim turns red; Bucky, too. They both say Nah-ah, and we all say Yeah-hah. Then everyone scatters on the playground.
The rituals of Love. For a long time I thought they were more or less limited to The Crush, Dating, Going Steady, Getting Engaged, and, finally, Marriage and Babies (which, as a kid, I lumped together on account of the first marriage among my siblings being the Shotgun variety).
As I got older I came to realize that somewhere after The Baby Carriage there is also Monotony, Incredibly Hard Work With Little Reward, Fighting, Something Akin to Hatred, and in over 50% of cases, Divorce. Oh yeah, and don’t forget Shared Custody.
The rituals of Love. My, how they’ve changed since the days of Kim and Bucky on the playground.
My marriage resides somewhere between Incredibly Hard Work and Fighting, usually a step this side of Fighting. It’s actually reached a comfortable place, where it might even be able to live ’til death due us part. Living, loving, arguing, loving, living, arguing.
Mom always told me it was good to fight in a marriage. She didn’t elaborate, but she did role model. Usually she was trying to soothe me as I sat in the back seat of the car, hands clutching ears, wailing so as to divert attention from their yelling to my panic that this was in fact It!
I’m pretty sure Mom would take issue with LiveScience when it touts a new study that suggests marriage as a treatment for depression. According to LiveScience, the study shows that marriage provides a greater psychological boost for depressed people than it does for happy people. (Bella DePaulo does a thorough treatment of the study in her blog on Huffington Post.)
Maybe Mom was never depressed enough. She was certainly hot-tempered and liked her naps each day, and she played poker for 30 years in spite of Dad’s insistence that she not. Which, now that I think of it might account for the other bit of marriage advice she always dispensed, which was, Don’t do it.
Or maybe the study was done by the same pro-marriage people (and, specifically, pro-men-and-women-only-marriage people) who sponsored the billboard in Albuquerque that reads something like “Married people have better sex lives.” Better than what?
It hasn’t been my experience that marriage is particularly therapeutic nor hot-and-heavy. I don’t mean to open a can of worms here, and I don’t mean to put down Marriage, especially my own, but Marriage can be great at times, and at times it sucks. Let’s be realistic. Some unions just plain shouldn’t have happened they’re so bad. Others are downright bizarre (just see the documentary Crazy Love, or if it hasn’t come to your town read this review). And a few lucky ones appear to be made in heaven. Appear to be.
Maybe I’m being self-centered, but I tend to believe most normal, relatively healthy marriages mirror my own. My marriage, like me, is presently middle-aged. Sometimes lamenting younger, more experimental days. Sometimes dreading what’s on the other side of the hill. Often operating with enough living under its belt to know which battles to pick and when to quietly appreciate the periods where not only is there no battle at hand but, in fact, a deep sense of peace and contentment.
For the most part I believe my marriage will see the Golden Years and, knock on wood, eventually Very Old Age. I figure the longer I stick with it, the more I’ll master the art of compromise. Mom and Dad, now in their eighties, fight less and rely more on their companionship than ever before. I’ve talked to each one of them, in private, about their marriage. Mom still sometimes says in that voice of hers, “I can’t stand him.” Dad still insists that Mom has always been hard on him.
Marriage is far from perfect, so much so I sometimes can’t understand why it has become the ritual of Love. What I do know is this: Marriage shouldn’t belong to some people and not to others. Everyone should have the right to marry if they want.
If I were in charge of All Things, I’d let anyone who’s willing to swallow the pill go for it. But I’d definitely warn, it’s not a substitute for St. John’s Wort.
Oh, and fighting is OK.
-from Topic post, Rich in Ritual.