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Old friends and marriages

I was notified yesterday of a new entry to www.schoolfriends.com.au for the school I used to go to (I've been a member for about a year, and had the option enabled for it to alert me when someone joined that went to my school/s), so I went to the site to have a look. The new member wasn't someone I knew, but I saw someone that I did know.

Stephen xxxxx, a guy I went to school with from 1980 – 1984. We kept in touch for a few years after that, until 1993, and then lost touch from there. He was a close friend for most of that time, so it was good to get in touch with him again.

We've exchanged life stories since 1993, and a few photos. It's funny how people change over the years. I remember him from 10+ years ago, and his photos show a big change. He's also had a few changes over the years as well, getting married with a childhood sweetheart and then divorcing a few years later, travelling around asia, etc etc.

It leads me onto the next thing… marriage. I'm always hearing stories about marriages going wrong, divorces or just horrible marriages. I see married people – are they ever happy together? Usually, no.

Someone told me a couple weeks ago about a lawyer friend of theirs who told them that he gets an average of 6 divorces through his office every week, and that's just in his office. There are plenty of marriage lawyers in Wellington (and probably everywhere), and if that's just through his office, how many in the entire city? What's the comparison of people getting married to people getting divorced?

I feel that marriage is an outdated concept for a time long gone, when a woman getting married was essential for her survival in a male dominated world. Unmarried women weren't socially accepted, with all kinds of problems resulting from them being unmarried. They needed to be married in order to survive, what with the man being the money earner, and the means for their survival. They were barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, raising a family to further the man's name.

These days, women get married because of the concept of commitment, that it's more likely that the relationship will last if the man is married to her.

Just doing a quick bit of research on the internet, I found this:

In their book A Case for Marriage, Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher claim that marriage is still our best option for a happier, healthier, wealthier life. Married people in their study reported being emotionally and physically healthier, and having more frequent and satisfying sex than their cohabitating or single peers. They also say that just being married boosts a couple’s standard of living by a third and that married couples are, on average, and over time far more affluent. If this is so why then are so many marriages failing?

It's an interesting read, with the conclusion being:

…behaviours that make for happy relationships:

Couples in happy and successful marriages invest time, energy and attention into their relationship
They discuss issues respectfully
They make time to be together, have fun, make plans, and do things that say, “I love you” to their partner
They consider how their actions and decisions will affect their partner and relationship and view their relationship as the most important aspect of their lives

I've decided to add a poll to this topic, and I'd love you guys to vote in it. Please let me know what you think.

As for me, I think marriage is outdated. I think that we live in a time where, at least in the western world, our freedom to make choices allows everyone to be with someone for only as long as they're happy. When the happiness stops, for whatever reason, it then comes down to how strong is your commitment to your partner, to keep you with them through the tough times? Is it worth it?

I remember hearing something that Tony Robbins said in one of his motivational CDs some years ago. He believes that all behavior is created by our tendency to move away from pain and toward pleasure. When we choose to procrastinate about something, it's because we feel at some level that DOING that something will be more painful than NOT doing it. Even though there is some pleasure in thinking about doing it, the ACT of doing it will create pain of some kind, and that's why we choose not to act on it.

It's not until the pain of not doing anything outweighs the pain of doing it, that we decide to do it. People get divorced, even though that's painful, but it's because the pain of marriage is more than they can bear. When the pain outweighs the pleasure, that's when people do something. Until then, they remain either in stagnation, or they're actually happy with each other and what they're doing.

Happiness, of course, is the ideal, but everywhere around us, we see that the ideal is rarely seen.

From what I see, and what I believe, the ideal relationship is one that has the couple together for only as long as they are happy being together. I believe that we have relationships with people because of what we can get from them and the relationship. Essentially we are selfish beings, even though we pretend that we're not. Why are we with someone? Because being with them makes us feel good. They either make us feel good themselves, or allow us to do something for them which, in return, makes us feel good. Selfishness is our driving force, doing things which make us feel good.

So we should be with someone who makes us feel good, rather than makes us feel bad. And if we think that whatever challenges are worth continuing the relationship, then we need to ensure that both us and our partner does everything possible to make the relationship pleasurable for all concerned. If one or the other doesn't respect the other enough to do what it takes to make everyone happy, then it's time to move on.

I don't see any point in being with someone who doesn't care about me and my happiness, nor do I see any point in being with someone if I don't care about theirs.

For that reason, I believe the freedom to choose happiness overrides the outdated concept of being bound to someone by a bit of paper and the expectations of church and society. Screw that. I'm not going to stay with someone who makes me unhappy, just because I have this bit of paper that says I should, or because my friends or colleagues think that if you're married, you should stick it out until 'death do you part'. Fuck that for a joke.

Happiness in life is the most important thing. Well, to me it is, and I believe it should be to everyone. Only when we're happy can we fulfil our true capabilities in life, when we can focus on our future, rather than on the misery of our current circumstances.

Happiness is where it's at, and I don't see marriage as being that place.

Thanks for reading! Please add your own thoughts below.

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