The Commitment of Marriage

Betty Blogger Heidi revisits age-old questions about marriage and commitment.

Betty Blogger

The Commitment of Marriage

Why do something that has a failure rate of 50 percent?

-Heidi Isern

Wedding topperMy brother is getting married this weekend. My parents are relieved as they have finally secured hope for having grandchildren.

Apparently, I was seen as a risky bet. My mother took me aside and told me, “Now you do not feel any pressure … your father and I always knew that you were fiercely independent, and will do things ‘different’ than the rest in your own time … “

Different? Hmmppff. When I was younger I certainly thought my way of doing things would be just like everyone else’s. When I was ten I assumed that by age 30 I would be happily married with two children, three dogs, and a house on many acres of forested land. I would be part-time attorney, part-time soccer mom, and part-time family chef. Vacations would be spent on the cape with the other ‘perfectly adjusted’ families.

Instead I find myself living in a rent controlled apartment solo, eating chocolate for dinner while writing blogs on dating. I am unable to even keep a plant alive, let alone a pet or a child. My vacations are random adventures in random places that all too frequently involve a cowboy hat, a bottle of whiskey and very ‘unadjusted’ people. However, I am happy. And with divorce rates high, promiscuity on the rise (both in and out of commitment), pre-nups mainstream, and gays consistently denied the right to marry even if they wanted to, the concept of marriage as a norm is challenged.

As my brother gets ready to enter a life of governmentally recognized coupledom, another girlfriend of mine signs divorce papers. She is much happier now and asks me the question, “Do we still need marriage? Or with women financially secure is it an outdated concept? Why are we pressured to enter into something that fails 50 percent of the time?”

My friend Jack is strongly against the idea. “I love my girlfriend, Natalie, very much. Why ruin our commitment with something as mundane as a government contract? We do not need a conventional piece of paper to prove that we are committed to one another!”

My friend Ana retorts, “Yes, but without that ultimate commitment and fear of messy legal issues, what’s to keep you from walking away when the going gets tough?”

Jack replies simply, “Love.”

But is love enough to keep two people together? And SHOULD two people really stay together for life or is that an outdated concept too?

My mother believes marriage is a necessary societal pressure that forces two people to build a life together, even when passion turns cold, which inevitably it does from time to time. “Every marriage suffers unforgivable hurts,” she says. “But if you don’t stick it out through the tough times then you don’t get to enjoy the benefits later in life of having built a whole history together … and after all those years is when the real love blossoms.”

My mother could have a point. And usually when two people love each other they want the fancy wedding to proclaim their lifelong commitment to the world. My brother certainly does. “Hey, it’s the party of my life!” Although while he goes into debt to finance it, my friends Jack and Natalie are planning on spending their “wedding reserve” money on home remodeling. To each their own … but before I make the big decision myself I will continue to take my random non-married trips with nothing but a string bikini, cowboy hat, and friend named Fabio.

Read Heidi’s last blog: Dating via technology

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