(Too) Great of Expectations: Do we expect too much from marriage?

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Ah Marriage. The divorce rate is up. The institution of marriage as we know it, has been troubled for quite some time. This isn’t shocking news, but I have been doing thinking and talking to folks about marriages–both good and bad, and I can’t help but wonder to myself, “Maybe we simply expect too much.”

We grow up thinking about marriage–I didn’t but most of my friends did–and to some extent, I feel we have all bought into this idea that marriage is love and romance. That it’s passion and joy. Marriage is supposed to be love at its peak performance: the ultimate love and devotion to the one person you’re absolutely sure you know is the one for you.

Then, 50% or so figure out that hey, maybe this person isn’t for me.

Maybe it’s because we are thinking about this marriage thing all wrong.

This guy thinks we are.

I feel that to some extent, I am guilty as charged. I’m a very passionate and sprightly person. I like romance and surprises maybe a little more than the rest of the population. Yet marriage is rarely romance or surprise. It can be utterly monotonous and predictable. If it’s not to at least some extent, you might just be married to someone with bi-polar disorder, and in that case, I hope you are incredibly patient and understanding. Or a psychiatrist.

Note: I know folks who are bi-polar and just fine, but an unmedicated bipolar person might just ruin you.

Just my two cents.

Maybe our expectations when walking down that aisle of dreams is paved with a bunch of shit that simply lowers our real resistance to what every day marriage is really like. We expect romance, love, commitment, and unwavering devotion, but the fact is many marriages will be tested in every single one of those aspects. If your marriage has always been awesome from the get-go, either you are delusional or incredibly lucky and deserve a talk-show explaining said phenomena.

This isn’t to say that marriage is a mistake, although it can be.

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This is to say that marriage is not what we were sold. That story is unlike the one you will be facing each day as a married person. You can ask yourself every deep question in the book pre-marriage like, “Can I tolerate his nose hairs?” “Can we agree on religious practices?” ‘Is it okay if we still have threesomes?” “Will her mother always hate me?” “What is the meaning of life and can I find out for just 9.99?”

Even if you get all the right answers. Yes, you guys can pick up 18 year-old chicks at bars still and No, her mother will like you, (such lies) it will be unlike what you had really expected. This is what I feel is a huge factor in divorce. We look through the lens of marriage at the beginning in a rose-colored shade that doesn’t help us for when we put on the glasses and find out, damn, things don’t always look so sexy.

So in response to this disconnect between real-life marriage and the fantasy bullshit your religion/family/friends/media told you so you would stay monogamous and not be a male whore, I have a great suggestion.

Want to get married? Are you thinking of popping the question?

Well, then I suggest you hunker down for one married couple for a year. This can’t be a newly-wed couple though. They’re still looking through pink shades. You need a couple post 5 years, with at least one kid. Spend a year with them. Sit in their bedroom closet. Go into their master bathroom. Listen to their conversations and fights. Watch their bank accounts. Watch the sex.

Does this look like what you imagined it to be? Did you expect fights over a purchase of Starbucks? Did you expect 1950’s-esque arguments over women and men’s roles in the kitchen? Did you expect the sex could be at times, boring?

Now, can you sign yourself up for the possibility that five years after walking down that aisle of clouds, you will be arguing over money, parenting, sex, household chores, and that time you told your father-in-law to fuck off?

Does marriage look so wonderful now?

Sure, you will see all the good things. The comfort of knowing one person. Family life. (Not to say that all marrieds need kids–that’s a personal choice and I respect all!) Having someone fold your hole-y sweaters and buy you new socks when the old ones become extremely ghetto.

There are good things too, but can you as a whole, encompass it all with that one person?

If you’re a method actor, a genius, person of incredible mental strength, etc, try chaining yourself to the one half of the married couple for 1/2 of the year, and the other person for the other 1/2. Really experience the fights! The orgasms (hopefully!) Feel the love during heated arguments when the nastiest shit ever is spewed that you wouldn’t even say to Hitler.

Get the full monty of marriage. And then ask yourself: are my expectations appropriate? Do I know what it takes to really be married?

If you answer yes, then good luck my friend! Remember, it does work out too. The other 50% are happily married…or at least happily masturbating while claiming joint taxes.

-Toodles and Kisses

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