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Till Death Do Us Part?
Till Death Do Us Part?
|TILL DEATH DO US PART?
One of the most presumptuous statements I can think of is the phrase, \should any person have reason why these two people should not be joined in matrimony, let them speak now or forever hold their peace.\
It is my considered opinion that two people who have reached a reasonable level of maturity should essentially disregard the opinions, rules, and regulations of other people, governments, or institutions, when contemplating a step like marriage.
Now, I realize that my position covers an enormous amount of ground and involves many areas that could be favorable and unfavorable to the couple in question. I also realize that many couples who perhaps may appreciate the opinions or desires of certain other people will adjust (within reason) their personal lives and activities in order to maintain amicable relationships with others. Yet, in the final analysis, the decision to marry (in whatever manner) or not to marry should remain the sole prerogative of the two people who are considering the unifying of their mutual life-styles.
Let me now begin with a qualifying remark: As much as I dislike the term \expert,\ I do qualify as an expert on the topic of marriage — my own marriage, that is! Who else could know more about the matter than I do — except, of course, for my wife, Gloria? I therefore speak with some authority — on the one hand. As is the case with all marriage \counselors,\ however, my expertise could hardly be applied in all instances to the desires and considerations of others.
Nevertheless, success in a given area by one person (or couple) can occasionally be useful to others who may be contemplating similar activities. So, I feel comfortable in offering a few observations regarding marriage that I have noted over the years.
First, the only sensible reason for marriage, as I see it, is an attempt to attain a very special feeling of mutual love with another individual. It is therefore very important that we closely examine the word love. The perceptions of most people, as reflected by standard dictionary definitions, often confuse love with sexual desire (or gratification thereof). This is unfortunate and quite misleading. On closer examination anyone could easily ascertain that love and sex are two entirely different considerations, although admittedly, in most cases, love and sex run together quite strongly when shared by the same two people. What one may legitimately regard as \true\ love, however, needs neither sex nor \financial security,\ nor any other cultural or social contrivance.
I began my explanations for the justification of marriage by saying that it is an attempt to attain a special and significant feeling of mutual love. I did so because I think that love, contrary to most storybook analyses, is not something that occurs instantaneously, but rather over an extended period of mutual interrelationship. Therefore, the incident of marriage actually occurs, regardless of the subtleness of its beginning, when two people mutually agree to a continuing relationship that may eventually nurture a feeling of deep mutual compassion, consideration, and companionship. It does not begin with any kind of formal declaration or ceremony, although such declarations may, in fact, be instigated as a part of cultural habit.
It should also be noted that a lasting love does not always result from such beginnings. This is usually the case when two people are strongly attracted to each other for reasons of sex, \security,\ or other conveniences. If real, mutual admiration is not the basic consideration, the other less permanent considerations, which tend to change with age and ongoing circumstances, will cause difficulties further into the relationship.
I seriously doubt that the majority of people actually base their marital attempts on a desire for a long-term relationship with another person. Certainly, the history of human marriages tends to indicate this. Perhaps such lasting commitments are not actually indigenous, natural human characteristics. This point could be argued endlessly. I personally compare an attempt at marriage to a similar attempt at cultivating a beautiful and permanent garden. First, two hopeful gardeners prepare the soil and plant the seed by simply meeting and being favorably impressed, one by the other. Then, they must share the task of weeding any social or personal differences from their common ground. Gradually, in an understanding way, they must then tend the delicate sprouts of their growing relationship until finally they can enjoy the magnificent beauty that can be realized through their efforts. The problem with the world seems to be that, in reality, all humans are not serious gardeners. Some people seem to be more satisfied with an occasional wildflower or even a plastic replica.
Of course, I do not intend my observations as a criticism of others. Perhaps, by choice, they disagree with my ideas completely and may find adequate satisfaction in life entirely through other means. Who am I to say that they are wrong? But for me, the most gratifying thing I can imagine is the experience of sharing a special kind of emotional relationship with another individual. I can even understand that this relationship would not necessarily be limited to two individuals, but may, in some instances, be equally satisfying in some manner of pluralistic arrangement. That, most certainly, would depend on the persons involved.
The human being, like most animals, is an emotional being. As much as it may displease us to think about it, life is usually more pleasurable or perhaps, in extreme cases, more tolerable if our emotions are at least partially satisfied.
Also to be considered is the fact that some people feel \compelled\ to produce (or otherwise acquire) children as a part of their marital relationship. As I stated earlier, do not allow other persons, governments, institutions, or customs to compel you regarding marriage. The inclusion of children within a marriage will not necessarily improve or diminish the quality of that relationship. With the inclusion of children, however, the relationship will most definitely change. The addition of a \family,\ of any nature, will have a significant effect on the compatibility of the original couple and should be carefully decided upon.
Love is a wonderful thing. The love of a friend, a parent, a child, particularly of a \spouse,\ or even a favorite pet, is a pleasure that can only be appreciated by experience. Marriage (whether formal or informal) is simply a possible vehicle of personal choice whereby two former strangers may experience what might easily become the strongest love of all.
In the words of that \great authority\ on marriage — me — I offer the following advice: Carefully consider all the aspects of such an emotional arrangement. Determine just what it is that you and your chosen and agreeable partner expect from such a relationship. You may even want to consider the opinions of friends or relatives or, especially, the opinions of any children you may already have. Then, after serious deliberations — do as you damn well please! In any case, never become discouraged by the occasional weeds of difficulty that you may encounter along the way. Simply remove them — with the help of your partner. Do not tire of the daily efforts that will maintain the favorable conditions in which you expect your love to grow. And, lastly, when and if you finally realize that love has come into full flower, cherish it in a manner that is fitting.
If, in time, you or your partner find, through unforeseen circumstances or death, love has \gone the way of all beautiful things,\ try to retain in memory the pleasures that love can bring — even if your love was essentially unilateral.
Then, if you attempt another gardening venture you too will be somewhat of an \expert.\