One of my friends asks some interesting and out-of-the-blue questions. They always make me stop and think. Another one of these came up recently and I decided to blog the answer.
Paraphrasing the question from Niki: What do you think about marriage? How about fidelity?
The Marriage Question.
To be honest I don’t really know for sure for my case. I think in popular culture and common discussion – particularly within a family, generally, though not exclusively from one’s elders, this debate so often originates from and is based upon the wrong points. And this “false start” is one of the many reasons so many marriages today end in divorce, and pretty quickly – though often not quickly enough.
As a single fellow, I get asked this a lot by my family, less so by my peers. My first response is simply this: I have had two relationships that lasted more than 1-3 months. The first was 6 months and the second was a little more than a year. Let me find somebody I even want to be with who also wants to be with me before beginning entertaining any thoughts about exactly what kind of life commitment or earthly bond I might swear with such a currently fictional person.
It has been suggested by some that I simply do not want to be in any form of committed or long term relationship. While I can’t rule that out, I don’t suspect that it is true. I do feel the drive to bond and share and nest with another. I look at the (admittedly few) examples of people in such relationships that I admire and I do think, man I would like to have some of that. But (here we call back to the “false start” statement from earlier) I don’t want it for its own sake. I only want it if it is something that develops naturally. For the naysayers, I am not saying that it must be simple and easy and never cause any difficulties. I am not that naive. But I have seen, and I imagine you have too, people who so badly want a certain result from a relationship, or want a particular kind of relationship, that they try to mash anyone they do date into a preformed scenario. This misconstruction of the issue is the thing that makes me dislike questions about when I will get married.
Whether or not a relationship is “serious” or long-term, codified by specific oaths or sacraments, or just two people doing a thing – I am not into cheating. I don’t want to be a party to that on any side of the coin. It feels really terrible to have done to you, and it doesn’t feel any better to do it to someone else. As far as I am aware/can recall, I have only been a part of the cheating twice – one fairly innocent moment back in 11th grade, and one much more complicated incident about ten years ago. It sucks.
This is one of the very few places you will ever see me reference Christian scripture as a reasonable source for inspiration in an intellectual pursuit. To paraphrase – Adultery (for our purposes – cheating) is what happens in your brain and heart regardless of other action. Despite the fact that there are distinctions to be made here, I do not feel that there is a slippery slope involved. It all seems pretty clear to me.
There is a difference between a simple and harmless fantasy, and a desire to physically and emotionally stray outside your relationship.
That’s the whole thing right there. “What about if your fantasies are causing problems in your relationship?” Well then it sounds to me like they aren’t harmless. It would seem that one or both parties involved have some other issues to work out, but the question of is it or isn’t it cheating seems to be answered – yes. I do think that especially today, people lose sight of the emotional aspect of cheating. This to me is why some (granted probably excessive) fantasies could be cheating. If you are giving away that emotional part of yourself to someone/thing other than your chosen partner, that is a violation of the commonly understood agreement we enter into (explicitly or tacitly) when we enter a relationship. This simple formulation also deals with the non-traditional formations as well – open relationships, swingers, and such. Did you violate the terms of your agreement in deed or spirit?
Given all that, at this point, I don’t really care very much about whether or not I get married. I would like to find someone to partner with and share my life with. I am not saying I would not get married, but that the question of whether or not I would take that step is just not a big factor in what I am searching for.
The pragmatist in me would want to look at the advantages/disadvantages from a tax/financial/insurance perspective. The agnostic with strong atheistic tendencies in me would not at all want to do it in a church or any form of religious ceremony. The personal autonomy lover with anarchistic leanings in me would not want to have a civil service either. I am sure all those guys could get on board and work something out should it ever come up. But I can tell you this – the odds of me wearing a ring are very very small. I don’t want to and won’t cheat on you mythical future girl – but I hate jewelry. I would consider an anniversary finger tattoo…