I have finally had a chance to sit back and read over the past few days. I took books with me on my road trip, but every time I sat down to read I fell asleep. :-)
I have been reading Committed, by Elizabeth Gilbert. If any of you recognize that name, it was probably from her well-known work Eat, Pray, Love. I read the latter during my divorce, and instantly felt a connection in her approach of the whole thing. She had a bad divorce, and she dealt with it by discovering who she was, seeking balance, and learning about life outside herself. In divorce, it's easy to draw in, and to see that everything outside yourself is meaningless. You can choose to embrace the reality, or you can hold tight inside yourself and wait for life to reconcile without you. I liked that the book was real, and she didn't hold back in describing her struggles (and joys!).
Onto the new book... I picked up the book mostly because once I like the writing of an author, I give the next book a fair read. I didn't realize until I sat down to read it that it was a book that talked about marriage. In fact, it talked about her disdain for the institution for marriage. I won't ruin the actual book for those of you that might want to read it, but I will say that she spent a year researching marriage, all while facing the reality that she HAD to marry her boyfriend in order for them to be together.
Taken from Committed:
"Marriage becomes hard work once you have poured the entirety of your life's expectations for happiness into the hands of one mere person. Keeping that going is hard work. A recent survey of young American women found that what women are seeking these days in a husband--more than anything else--is a man who will "inspire" them... young women of the same age, back in the 1920s, were more likely to choose a partner based on qualities such as "decency" or "honesty," or his ability to provide for a family."
Am I just too much of a realist now? I can see how putting my entire hopes and dreams in the hands of another person can be a fatal mistake. I have already been there and done that. I look that this research now, and I can definitely see how it makes more sense to find someone with which I can build a foundation. Love grows after time of mutual respect, support, and loyalty through fulfilling necessary roles.
I am starting to sound more and more like a man...
I think there is something to the fact that many people have been married for 50+ years, and they started their courtship based on the fact that they would make a good fit, and they were committed. It had little to do with the fact that she was his muse, or that he made her feel sparks after each kiss. They were invested in the life they had together, and they worked to make sure things got done. Enough said.
Now, marriage seems to be on a whim. It's very much a heart decision, and not so much a head one. No matter what "group" you belong to in this country, you marry for love. I am not saying that someone should marry a person she detests. I am simply saying that the intense romantic love that most feel in the beginning fades over time, and comfort and contentment can fill its place. Or, you can wake up next to a person that refuses to get a job, drains the bank account, and disappears for days on end. Then you are trapped...
I am not sure where I stand on Gilbert's view of marriage. I can understand that being burned by a bad marriage and divorce can leave one scarred, and begin to question the purpose of forming such official union again. I mean, if people are committed to each other, what does the title mean anyway?
I guess the main reason I would probably get married again is the fact that I refuse to let someone in my life ruin any future relationships. It just seems like that is letting the ex-husband continue to control future encounters, and I am not down with that. I remember about eight years ago when I was excited at the idea of spending my life with someone and being "married." I would like to face that same experience again in the future.
This may seem like a random rant, but it is really a lot of thoughts that have reconciled over the past year. It does take time and distance to offer perspective. It takes other people telling their stories, and it also takes seeing that people have moved on. And I have moved on as well.
I'm in a good place right now. I know Gilbert had commented on the fact she had a good life, and didn't feel the need to change things. Change happens multiple times in one day, but I do know this: I will never give another person the responsibility for "making me happy" or "inspiring" me. I have to be at a good place in my life before I can let good things happen to me. My friend Robin put it best in an e-mail to me:
"You deserve joy like no other. I'm glad also that you aren't seeking out someone else to GIVE you joy. No, you've looked around and found that inwardly. You were just looking for someone to SHARE this joy with."