Saturday, September 13, 2008

The M Word

In the past 18 months, I have had eight friends in my age group either break up with their long-term partners or get divorced. All of these relationships lasted under five years.

This only confuses me a hell of a lot more about the state of long-term relationships right now. Why is it that so many people my own age are experiencing this? Is this a social phenomenon? I've read about the so-called "starter marriages," which are similar to starter homes in the sense that one neither keeps the house nor the spouse for too long, and then people invest in something with more value. That's fine for a house, but not for a person!

However, when one examines these "starter marriages," there's a lot more going on beneath the surface. I've known people throughout my life who have had issues with their partners before they get married, and they have believed that marriage would solve all of their problems, that it was the great equalizer. They all admitted, after the fact, that they were wrong. The issues didn't go away, and if anything, marriage made the problems worse.

I don't understand why people invest thousands of dollars in one day of their lives to make a commitment that should last the rest of their lives--only to have it broken in less than five years. Lots of people go into a marriage hopeful and optimistic, that they'll live happily ever after, like in the movies. Well, I've never been married, but I've had enough life experience to know that fairy tales only exist in storybooks, and you can't get a frog to turn into a prince with a kiss.

I come from a family where long marriages are the norm. My parents have been married for 35 years, and almost all of their friends are still married, and have been for years. My parents have certainly had their disagreements and their issues; they have always worked things out, but I'm not sure how they did. I was never privy to what went on between just the two of them, and I feel it's inappropriate to ask what happened. Regardless, I think one of the reasons they're still together is that they've allowed each other to live their own lives, have their own friends, and be two separate individuals.

I'm afraid that, if I enter into a relationship, I may lose some of my individuality. I don't ever want to be so associated with another person that I become known as "KittenandJohn," as opposed to just "Kitten." I know that I will have to sacrifice some of my solitude to be with someone else, but I don't want to give it up entirely. I treasure my time alone, and sometimes, I feel that I'm better company with myself than with anyone else.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy attending weddings. As a little girl, I dreamed of my wedding, with the white dress, bridesmaids, flowers, and bouquet tossing. Sometimes I still daydream about getting married. But if I do, it'll be a simple, simple affair--probably a justice of the peace and a couple of witnesses. Nothing fancy.

I don't want to spend a lot of money on the ceremony, but I want to gain a lot from the return investment.

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