Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Marriage Issue

Dec 30th, my friend Ivory and I happened upon a movie that further cemented my negative view of marriage. The movie was Nine, a movie about a famous Italian man trying to put together a movie and simultaneously failing at life. He had a wife and a mistress, who was married, and as he told his wife I wish you were here, you do so much for me when I’m making movies, blah blah blah, maybe it’s better that I just get away from everything. He gives his mistress the address to his hotel and puts her up in a little place so he can fuck away his frustrations.

The story isn’t a new one, the husband, wife, and known mistress thing is very…not common…widely known, and to some degree accepted—don’t worry, I’m not going on some rant about how women are treated less fairly than men in situations of affairs. The issue is that I kind of saw myself as his wife, having the potential to be his wife. She’s pretty, they met through their careers, she stepped back when he needed his space, was there for him if/when he needed her, and for no good reason he drifts away, he needs something more, something more than everything she could possibly give; and the terrible part is that he doesn’t even know what he wants or lacks. It was a hopeless and sad situation. And I think the cause of the situation, other than the fact the he couldn’t properly handle life at the time, was marriage.

The analogy that I came up with was this: marriage is like a piece of fruit. Soon after becoming married—be it the minute after the vows are said, a couple months into it, or just after the first anniversary—the marriage is a piece of fruit picked off of a tree: from that moment on it’s rotting and it’s the owners’ job to get from it what they can, catch it at ultimate ripeness, perfect sweetness. And from then on it’s dying and rotting and turning sour. I’m making it sound more dramatic than it can be. Usually there is no key thing that ruins a marriage, no one event. It’s just a rift that grows out of several small things. All of a sudden you’re not growing together, you don’t like the same things about that person that you first did—or those things don’t exist anymore—or you just become different people, people that probably shouldn’t be together anymore. But the problem is that once you’re married you’re not committed to each other, you’re not trying to build up each other, you’re committed to this thing that you two built together, this relationship, this marriage (and if it’s the case, you’re committed to the kids), this invisible object that’s essentially a sheet of paper with your names on them, a couple of symbolic rings, the mortgage that you two took out together, or whatever. And I think that’s at the heart of the growing rot. People change when they’re married. They’re not the people they were when they fell in love, nor are they trying to be anymore. I’m not saying the people in a marriage shouldn’t change from who they first were; that’s silly. But somewhere along the way they’re not growing and changing together, there’s a rift, a misunderstanding, miscommunication, a difference of opinion that slowly rotting out what they started together.

At this moment in history I don’t want to get married. I think I’d be happy dating the same guy for the rest of my life, never marrying him, maybe never living together (not for very long, at least), simply because I think I’ll try harder, I’ll care more, I won’t take what we have for granted because there’s no piece of paper saying that we’re official. I’d have to try harder to keep what we have because there’s nothing guaranteeing that that relationship will still be there in 3 months.

The two biggest instigators for marriage are religion and tradition. It’s been instilled in our and many other societies that our goal, as humans, is to find a partner and commit ourselves to them for as long as we possibly can, and procreate, aka “raise a family.” I’ll call it The Human Condition, for lack of a better and more creative title. But I think we’re more like animals than we care to admit.
Siberian Tigers are independent creatures. They each have their own territories and the only time they share is when a female is raising kids, which only lasts for 18 months. When a Siberian Tiger female is ready to mate she’ll leave signs, literally: she’ll leave urine deposits and scratch trees as an indication. Depending on how extensive her and neighboring territories are she may have to go find a male. The female is “receptive” for only 3 days and she and the male mate several times over that period of time, then he leaves, she’s pregnant, has kids, then moves on herself. Why can’t we have such a system? Obviously it wouldn’t be with the same time frames but adapt it to our own nature/desires.

What’s wrong with not being married? What’s wrong with just having a few long time partners over the course of your life (and possibly other less significant shorter-term partners)? Essentially, what’s wrong with that? How will that affect our species? Our societies? There will always be promiscuous people; the instillment of religions and laws haven’t changed that. I think if we [could] work to shape an ideal society where we don’t use otherworldly phenomena to scare and motivate the masses to do the right thing, to instead condition and train each other to do what’s best for us as a species, we can avoid what I will now call The Marriage Issue (amongst many many other issues).

If you want to know more about the movie itself, just ask me in person. That’s much simpler to discuss :-P