- Fizzy Thoughts: I don't

I don't

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Lisa is having a contest to give away a copy of Matrimony. In order to enter, you must leave a comment about marriage. Which ended up being remarkably difficult for me (I was trying to come up with a statement that reflected my feelings, but that didn't sound offensive), and led me to write this post to clarify my feelings on the institution of marriage.

Many of you know that Hamburger and I have been together for 16 years. We've lived together for 15 years. When we realized we were serious about our relationship, both of us were clear on the fact that we didn't have any desire to have children (a point that we confirm, with much relief, on a regular basis) and that neither one of us felt strongly about need to get married. Hamburger's parents divorced when he was a kid, and it is not a pleasant memory for him. His parents went on to marry again. And in some cases, again. He doesn't have a whole lot of faith in marriage.

My parents were married for 28 years, until my father's death. Although my mom was also married and divorced prior to their marriage. When I was growing up, my dad worked out of town for a number of years...I was never particularly close to him. My mom is an incredibly self-sufficient person, and we were very close when I was growing up. I'm not really sure where I got my feelings on marriage (although the distant dad, strong mom probably plays into it), but sometime in college I came to the realization that it was unnecessary. I might feel differently if I wanted kids, but I don't. So for me, it's a piece of paper...and I don't need that piece of paper to legitimize my relationship. I also don't need society's approval, and that's the political/societal side of marriage that bugs me.

You might be surprised, but our parents have never pressured us about marriage. In fact, they could care less. My dad, in his "soon to be on my death-bed chat" with Hamburger, only wanted assurances that Hamburger would be there for my mom and me. There have been no when are you getting married, when do we get grandchildren comments or discussions. They know our feelings, and they respect our decisions.

The pressure did come from various distant family members and friends. People who didn't understand that their feelings didn't have any bearing on our decisions. Excuse me, but where does Hamburger's step-brother's wife get off telling us we "have to have children?" And yes, she said have to have. Then there's our nosy neighbor, who grills the rest of the neighborhood about our marital status. It's attitudes like this that make me even more adamant in my decision. After all, why should I have children or get married to make someone else happy? Or to conform to society's expectations? And why do people think that I need children and a marriage certificate to be happy? Trust me, I'm plenty happy. (If that sounds a bit defensive, I didn't mean it to be.)

Added to that, the whole debate on the government thinking they can legislate who can marry and who can't, just pisses me off. However, I try to avoid political discussions, so I'm not going there.

However, this doesn't mean I don't like marriage. I even cry at weddings, because I'm a total sap. Just because it isn't for me doesn't mean it's not for you. Which was kinda the whole point of me writing this post. Just because I make comments about not being married and not wanting children doesn't mean I don't think it's totally cool that you decided to get married (or not) or have children (or not). I'll like you either way.

11 comment(s):

beastmomma said...

People should be free to make the decisions that are best for them. Unforunately, people and governments are not good at keeping their opinions to themselves.

lisamm said...

Jill, I don't know why but I feel kinda bad that you felt the need to justify or explain what you wrote. Marriage isn't for everybody, that's for sure. And you and 'burger have been together longer than most married people. I feel (my personal opinion) that it's important for people who have or want to have children, but even then it's a personal choice. I'm glad you're happy. Don't listen to the busybodies!!

Book Zombie said...

Very well put! I am in the same type of situation, been with my hubby for 12 years this Dec, although we do have 2 children and call one another husband and wife, we are not legally married. We both agreed that we did not need official documentation to say we are a couple, neither of us being religious that didn't come up either. Both our families are happy and accepting (his being Roman Catholic!!) and support our lifestyle.
I agree with your thoughts that it is a personal decision. And even though I have children, I have a good friend whose married 10 years and is constantly nagged by family, friends and co-workers about her choice to not have kids - what is up with that? It seems so horrible to me, I respect them for not giving into what society expects and support her whenever possible.

Sorry for babbling, I really just wanted to say I enjoyed your post and agree 100% :)

Dar said...

I absolutely agree Jill. It's nobody's business what anybody decides to do with their lives. For me I had a bad relationship and therefore would never be married. I also never wanted children. But that's for me, not for everyone else. I think it's great when people want to marry and have children(I love other people's kids) if that's what they want. It's all about the freedom to choose what's best for you, not everyone else. It always has made me angry when people butt in with their opinions on what's best for someone else-often their lives aren't all that peachy. You're happy and that's all that counts. Sorry for the long post-ultimately do what's best for you and you don't have to feel bad about it!

Ti said...

I had to go back and read your comment on the original post (nosy blogger than I am). LOL. I don't think you said anything that needed explaining and what you said here was well put.

People just need to mind their own beeswax.

Daphne said...

I was with my boyfriend for 7 years before we got married, and then the relationship broke up 5 months after we got married. I think it was the 'getting married' that did it. I don't know why, exactly. It just wasn't the right thing to do. Now I'm with my lovely partner (5 years and counting), and thanks to liberal Californian judges, we can get legally married now. I dont know if we will. We're legal partners, and somehow that's just good enough for me. I like a good party as much as the next person but somehow marriage seems like a weight rather than a joy.

(M)ary said...

i have very similar feelings about marriage. i don't want to do it since i am not having kids. yet, i love other people's weddings. (of course, weddings and marriages are two entirely different animals.)

Annie said...

Great post. We are on the same page about marriage and children - neither has ever been a priority for me.

Last year, I went to a family reunion and an 80-some year old great-uncle said that I'd wasted my life by not getting married and having kids. Later when I told the rest of the family about his comment, we all had a good laugh.

Melanie said...

I just found your blog through Books on the Brain. I'm going to put you on my blog roll becuase I love this post so much. And I can't wait to see what you have to say about books too.

blueviolet said...

I have grown up so much over the years in terms of my views. It doesn't matter to me what other people do anymore whether it agrees or conflicts with my own choices. I truly don't care and I fully support everyone's rights to live as they so choose. I love freedom.

softdrink said...

Aw, Lisa...don't feel bad. I just didn't want anyone to feel like I'm down on marriage. I may be sarcastic, but I try not to be (too) negative. ;-)

And thanks, everyone, for all of the comments!

In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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