Tuesday, March 16, 2010

While I'm folding laundry

I'm currently listening to Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert on CD from my library. I requested it after reading a number of reviews. The title alone appealed to me. Although few believe me I was definitely a skeptic of marriage as a teenager. I was the snotty teenage girl that openly admitted in Young Womens I have no intention of getting married, and I didn't, not at 20, not at 30, never. I thought marriage was a waste of time, I had more important things to do than to waste my time getting married. I didn't even like dating, why would I want to get married. Until I was seventeen, one day when I was walking up the stairs in my parents house and turn right instead of left towards my room, and thought I should read this (The Family: Proclamation to the World). When I was a 1/3 of the way through the second column (the 7th paragraph), I had the distinct thought, "If I want to stay committed to my religious devotions I will have to get married when the opportunity arises." Right there at the top of the stairs my years of adamant refusal changed, although I didn't let anyone know that right away. In fact when I met my future husband a year and half later, I told him I didn't want to be his friend because Return Missionaries want to get married, and I had too many things to do to get married. He assured me he had no such desire, and he didn't even want to date me and a year and half after that I married him.

Anyway, back to the book:
The social scientist in me find its fascinating, Chapter 2 really got me thinking about my relationships and what I expect out of them. In our developed nation we pretty much have every physical need met, (housing, food, warmth) so much so that we are obsessed with our happiness. In the history of the world, few have expected to be happy all of the time. But we have, us, 21st American Humans, expect that. We expect our associates to fulfill these needs of happiness, friends, family, who ever else we know. Since the book is about marriage, it needlessly points out, that number one we as women expect our husband to keep us happy. I will admit I use to think that, but it only lasted a few months after my wedding date, luckily my husband never was under the assumption that he would "fix" me to be happy all the time. He has shown me there he is just here to hold my hand, as I turn my problems over to my Savior. No the book is not religious, but sorry, I am so much, I can't help but see where my life actions intersect with my religious devotion. My husband can not fix my problems, but my religious devotion can make them lift.
My complaint with the book, is she assumes everyone else was immature when they started their first marriage. I know my husband and I did not actually know what we were getting into, but yet we did spent a lot of time discussing, what marriage is and what it means. We both were skeptics of marriage, my husband and I spent probably a year before getting married discussing marriage what is, what isn't, etc. Yes, this should have been a sign of doomness if I was discussing what marriage is and isn't with a boy who swore he had no intention of marrying me. Even after we were unoffically engaged, I remember clearly walking down one of the sidewalks on campus wondering if there was any way I could stay committed to Brent, without doing the horrendous thing of getting married. After a few minutes of pondering I decided no, if I want to still be with Brent in 60 years (which I did) and wanted to stay committed to our religious devotions, we would indeed have to get married. I know a girl who is not knocked up should be giddy at the idea of getting married to her boyfriend/fiance. But I was not, I did indeed want to be with him for my entire life, and into the next one, I still do, but really marriage was the only way to secure such a future? After months of discussion and months of studying, pondering and praying I knew if I wanted to be with my husband marriage would be a good thing. But let it just be said both Brent and I were skeptics of marriage.
Gilbert spends some time writing about how most relationships start off infatuation. Although I'm sure I spent plenty of time infatuated with my husband, that is not how our relationship started. To use her analogy of doors and windows, all of sudden we found ourselves telling secrets to a friend. Places that use to be walls in our lives, were now huge picture windows for the other person to see our soul. Which is why although I'm sure people can have platonic relationships with the opposite sex, I'm a little hesitant to agree. I can easily see where a friendship quickly becomes emotionally intimate and all of sudden you very committed to someone you have never even hugged, or had any physical contact with. My husband and I clearly talk to members of the opposite sex but we are very diligent about building thick walls between us and members of the opposite sex. In the book she talks about how people often commit adultery without realizing what they are doing, because they build windows where there use to be walls, and board up doors that use to exist. Yes, its very easy to start trusting someone and telling them secrets that don't belong to them. That is how I got involved in the whole marriage business in the first place. (If you want a good religious article on this topic of emotional fidelity, read this. I assure you emotional intimacies can be quick to form, before you even realize.)
Anyway, I'm not finished with the book. I don't agree with the whole book, and if you have a problem reading the word sex you should not read the book. I don't think the book is inappropriate, but she is a person that has no problem cohabiting with someone so the book isn't G rated, although I don't think its inappropriate. Once again to impose my religious views, in her chapter on the history of marriage, I found the early Christian church's views on marriage fascinating, since I believe the early Christian church apostatized. Its amazing to me to see how far it apostatized how quickly. Marriage between a man and a woman is not always been the history of good christian souls it turns out, yes for good Hebrews, but not for Christians. Marriage in the early Christian church was not a religious ceremony but a secular one.

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