By Choice

May 14th

heart cupcake

Have you read Min’s take on marriage? Or what Dooce is going through, while separated from her husband? Relationships in the Time of Blogs — a modern-day take Gabriel Garcia Marquez would likely not appreciate — is a strange era.

“We’re texting.”

“His friends are adding me on Facebook. What does that mean?”

“He asked for my card. Now what?”

“He didn’t respond to my email.”  

By contrast: my parents met when they were in high school. They loved each other then. They loved each other raising two obnoxiously stubborn kids, one house in the burbs, one mini van, one million weekend hours spent a swim meets, and one spoiled rotten dog. They love each other today, 35 years after saying “I do.” A day my father wore a ruffled tux and my mom a handmade lace wedding gown that could have rivaled Kate Middleton’s. (A day my Uncle Rett apparently poured all the groomsmen and the groom more than one shot before they skipped down the aisle.)

My parent’s don’t tweet. Or Facebook. They do shout at each other over the television from the other room on occasion. Sometimes they even text — often with hilarious results. But for the most part, they just look at each other and talk it out. They still hold hands. And they’ve made my brother and I forever hopeful that this is what a good marriage looks like: conflict, resolution, a lot of talking about emotion, and fierce, stubborn love.

That’s exactly what Min’s saying in her post. I’m hopeful that’s the comeback story for Heather and Jon. When in doubt, always root for love.

My friend Adam and I had a lengthy conversation last week about what marriage means. He thinks I’m wrapped up in the notion of an antiquated tradition when committed relationships can mean the same without the title of “wife.” (Mind you, the man is happily married.) More and more of my friends are saying the same. While my core group of girlfriends are married, I have handfuls of friends who don’t want marriage or children. Or want one, but not the other. And proceed gleefully without worrying about social norms, tradition, or expectation.

Is marriage antiquated? Life is what you make it. If you want to look at marriage as a symbol of women being chattel handed over by their fathers to their new property owners, there is plenty in the books to make your case. And if you want to see it as a ceremony symbolizing commitment and love — well, there is a billion dollar economy ready to make even the sanest woman nutty over birdseed, bubbles and tulle.

The point is — I don’t know. The older I get, the less what I thought I knew seems true. I don’t know what should remain private, and what to share. There are days I want to scream from the top of the social media rafters that relationships are hard work. That I’ve spent enough time alone in the last decade, being with someone is a pleasant but odd adjustment. That figuring someone else out and honoring them is a tricky tight rope to walk. That my parents were so very lucky to find each other when they did, but that I recognize now more than ever they haven’t stayed together by chance — but by choice.

So, sometimes I yell to him from another room when a movie is on. Occasionally I embarrass him with tweets. And often as I can, I hold his hand.

This is all I know for now.



Posted in
Follow the comments.

10 Responses

  1. Love it. #truth

  2. My husband and I have been together since we were seniors in high school. We have been married for 26 of those 28 years. Marriage is not always easy but after each blessing and each hurdle we look at each other and think wow we got through that and I’m so glad you are still standing here next to me! I dont think everything personal should be on social media, but I think I share what I think is appropriate and I enjoy reading and sharing through the wonderful blogs in blogland (I could literally spend a whole day going blog to blog). There is a happy medium in all things. And yes, I interrupt every movie, TV show and video game he watches/plays but he kindly listens to my rants, questions and silly comments. And I still hold his hand after all these years. He is my first, my last, my everything!

  3. Marriage gives you legal rights and, if you choose, a really big party. Honestly, that’s about it. And it’s not to poo-poo those legal rights because they are massive, but it’s not about love — except that you are choosing who has the right to inherit from you and have power of attorney when you are sick (and who you get to sponsor as an American citizen, in our case). And, of course, it’s more complicated to break the bond if you choose to part.

    The relationship must always come first. I don’t work on my marriage. I could care less about the marriage, to be honest, which probably explains why I don’t wear my rings half the time. And also explains why our finances (except the mortgage) are totally separate. I work on making myself a more flexible, understanding, caring partner for the person I love. And no piece of paper from the state makes that more real or valid.

  4. I love this. I suppose I’m antiquated too and giddy to be that way.

  5. “So, sometimes I yell to him from another room when a movie is on. Occasionally I embarrass him with tweets. And often as I can, I hold his hand.”

    Keep it up and do what works for you 🙂

    Hope you are great !

  6. For me, marriage is about love…but you can have love without the legal recognition and it doesn’t make that love any less worthy. I would say that not being married makes it easier to walk away, but that’s not true these days with the quickie divorces.

    I married my husband because I love him…I couldn’t care less about what he leaves me when he dies, except for the fact that he will leave a big empty whole in my life (sappy, yes!)

    I feel like these days (and at almost 35 years old I think I can say I have a little life experience, got a long way to go though) people are entitled and think that if they want it, it should happen and it should be easy. I believe in working for something great, and that’s what I strive for my marriage. It’s not always good – and lately things have fallen into the worse category, but I know that we can get it back.

  7. Larissa Stretton May 15, 2012


    My heart’s all squeezy for you. Love is wonderful, so is marriage. After 22 years that raced by amazingly fast, I pray every day for at least 60 more. Enjoy what is now and let the future happen. Here’s hoping you’ve found “that one”.


  8. I’m 50, met my husband at 17, been married to him for 28 years. Yes, marriage is hard sometimes, staying married is a daily challenge, you have to be strong, faithful, brave and honest. You have to cut your own space and your “together” space in your daily busy life, and it’s not that easy. But you know what? I’d do it all over again, maybe with less mistakes and misunderstandings, but even those helped us to be here today.

  9. I love this post too. Especially “The older I get, the less what I thought I knew seems true.” I find that statement to ring true to me. No doubt. Relationships are so much work. Yes. I’m learning that every day. Also the choice part is a huge part of the equation.

  10. Call me old fashioned but I do not think marriage is antiquated. I have a wonderful real-life example of what a good marriage is and should be (my parents, married 30 years and counting!). It’s not good because they always LIKE each other, but it’s good because there has never been a question of commitment or sticking it out. They work HARD on their relationship, every day.

    And so do I. And I will continue to!