Sunday, June 13, 2004

What is a good reason for getting married?

Are there bad reasons for getting married? The first answer that jumps to my mind is force. Nobody should get married because they are being forced to marry. We think that in America people aren't forced to marry anymore but that is not true. There are still parents who arrange and enforce marriages as contracts between families or because of sexual activity or pregnancy. After force is necessity. Some people marry because they need protection or to escape an abusive parental household or for monetary support. Necessity is not, IMO, a good reason for marriage...understandable sometimes but not good. And there are still women sold into marriage (which to my mind is more of a sexual slavery than a marriage but I suppose that legally the contrat is marriage).

Is sex a good reason to marry? Well, I like sex and it is certainly a good part of my marriage but it isn't the driving cause. If a man or woman will not have sex with a partner until they are married, I do not think that is a good reason to marry. That is certainly a fine personal standard if you choose not to have sex outside of marriage but wanting to have sex with someone is not sufficient reason to marry them.

Social stricture? Nope, not a good reason in my mind. That the community cares whether or not a man or woman is married is not strong. Will that community support the couple, care about their welfare as a married pair, or will the piece of paper satisfy their requirements? Will the community work to keep strong partnerships or assume that the blessing of the state is enough. What motivation is there for a couple to stay married or to keep working if the partnership was not their idea in the first place?

What does work? Well wanting to get married is important. A couple that wants to bond in public partnership gets a checkmark. This does not, of course, have any negative marking for people who prefer not to get married. Common general goals get a checkmark. We both want to settle down or travel the world, we have generally similar views on the accumulation of wealth and goods and children. A willingness to give and take to strengthen the partnership gets a checkmark. Not that I will erase my selfhood to let someone else's take primary position but that I will see that my singular desires are only part of the whole. Mutual respect for ideas and beliefs gets a checkmark. Knowing that we will not always see things exactly the same way and that our backgrounds and structures are different but that different is not bad and that there is valid reasoning there that we can listen to and think about for ourselves. We may not have the same or any religion but a mutual respect for how we came to those places and the ability to refrain from "conversion" eases that difference. Seeing each person as fluid gets a checkmark. I am not now the same person I was 14 years ago nor is my partner. I hope that in the future we will both continue to grow as whole people. Are we williong to trust the growth and not try to keep each other the same? Are we willing to see growth as positive and to acknowledge that our growth may not be parralel in terms of time or paths. Can we see our paths separate and come back together without ruiing everything? I suppose this means that we do not rest all the responsibility for the relationship on just one thing/way. Not just sexual activity or similar hobbies or even political stances.

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