Earlier this week, I had a dream that my BFF, we’ll call her J, was getting married, and that Paul and I were also getting married. But J’s BFF was very upset with me for intruding into her space and trying to steal her BFF. She was so angry, she grabbed my marriage license and ripped it to shreds. She was doubly upset when I told her that Paul and I had been married for 20+ years already, and that license wasn’t really needed.
The next day, I talked to J and shared my dream, and it opened the door to a philosophical discussion of marriage.
Fun fact: I found an article on the internet (so, you know it must be true!) on the origins of marriage. It states that the first recorded evidence of marriage ceremonies, uniting one man and one woman, is from Mesopotamia and dates back to about 2350 B.C. Interestingly enough, it involved a father giving away his daughter to a man for the purpose of producing legitimate offspring.
This meant she was expected to be faithful to her husband, while the husband was free to satisfy his sexual urges with… well, anyone else he wanted. Concubines… prostitutes… sheep…?
According to the article, it didn’t become cannon law as a sacrament (by the Roman Catholic Church) until 1563. The doctrine gave husband and wife exclusive access to each other’s body, and declared that the two shall become one flesh–and only one. Poor husbands. They were now expected to be faithful to their wives.
Catie here, that was more of a nudge, nudge, wink wink kind of vow. Sounds pretty but no one actually expected men to be faithful.
I found this article to be absolutely fascinating, in many ways.
Do you guys realize that, if this article is correct, marriage existed for THOUSANDS OF YEARS before religion came into play?! Close to FOUR THOUSAND YEARS. That’s incredible to me. The next time someone says, “Marriage is God’s… blah blah blah,” I’m going to reply with, “Marriage existed for four thousand years without God, so shove it up your ass.” Also, don’t forget lube. It’s important. Really, it’s critical. Not only for pleasure, but safety.
My conversation with J didn’t delve this deep into the history of marriage. It was more of a discussion on how important marriage is to a relationship. The importance actually varies from person to person. For J, it’s an expression of how deeply committed she is to the man she loves. For Catie, marriage is an expensive party for a contract, and nothing more.
Catie here, this isn’t entirely true. A wedding is a big expensive party (that I don’t see the point of) to celebrate the signing of a contract. Marriage is the part where you live up to the contract. I understand the idea of the contractual agreement, especially in years past when DNA testing didn’t exist and the passing of titles and property was strictly based on which son was oldest when you die. If you worked hard for this patch of dirt you want to be sure YOUR offspring inherits it. If you want that patch of dirt sometimes a daughter (plus a few sheep) is a good trade. If you and your neighbor have been fighting for 20 years and have decided to really make peace (for sure this time) marry a couple of your children off to each other and BOOM nothing unites like grandkids. This is a very Euro-centric view of things (I mean we’re all of European decent here so that makes sense) but there are plenty of other cultures where plural marriage is the norm. These marriages are for status, to have extra field hands, etc. I can see using a marriage to cement an arrangement, it makes logical sense but lets not romanticize it – that’s how they get you.
I can also see the point of having a contract drawn up for your marriage, sort of like a prenup but more like an outline for your life plan. How many children and who will be home with them? Is monogamy a requirement? Where will you’ll live? Spending limits/income requirements? How will career changes or desire to go back to school to learn a new trade be handled? Of course you can’t plan for everything and you’ll still need to roll with some of life’s punches but if you’re going to take a bunch of stupid vows anyway might as well get some of the biggies hammered out before hand.
My personal view on marriage has changed over the years. A lot.
When I was younger, it was the ultimate expression of how much I loved Paul. I love you, so much, I want you to be my one-and-only until I die. (At 21 years-old, I didn’t realize just how long until-I-die would be.) At the time, taking his last name was pretty awesome. I was excited to tell the world that we, he and I, were a permanent couple.
Now, at 29 years-old, (yes, I got married when I was 21, and we’ve been married for over 20 years, but I’m still 29 years-old. I’m terrible at math, so leave me be!) I’ve learned that marriage isn’t the Happily Ever After romance books sell.
Catie here, just to say I’m utterly shocked that marriage isn’t the happily ever after advertised in storybooks.
Here’s an example: My brother was married to his ex-wife for three years. And at the time of their wedding, they were “madly in love.” So much for until-death-do-us-part.
Here’s another example: The three of us (Catie, Paul, me) have been in a pretty committed relationship for… 6 years…? I think? (Remember, I’m bad at math.) That’s twice as long as my brother’s more “permanent” institution of marriage. We’re just together by choice. At any point, Catie can walk away without too much difficulty. Yet, Paul and I are still trusting her to come home every night.
And I do, happily. I make dinner and give blowjobs often, too.
So, I’ll leave you guys with a question: How important is marriage?
That’s not a rhetorical question. I really want to know your thoughts.