Monday, February 25, 2008

The follow-up to the "Marry Him" post...

So I spent some time trying to edit down all the letters I got into something approaching a reasonable-length blog post...and then, I gave up. Ya'll had a lot to say and I simply could not do it justice. The letters, all eleven thousand and some-odd words of them, can be read here. (Note: I edited out names and anything that might be an identifying detail.)
Many of you agreed with me, although some of you raised some “Yes, but…” points. There were a couple of main themes to these. One was: marriage is about more than sexual passion. Dear readers, I may not be legally married to my partner, but we’ve been partners for almost eight years now, so I’m definitely hip to the fact that long-term domestic partnership is not one unending orgy. Sorry if that dulls your image of me as a sexual outlaw. We have the same trivial mundane shit to deal with, and the same sorts of difficulties and challenges. But my point is that you should start out being in love. You have to have that foundation, because that deep and intense connection is like the lube that gets the two of you through the tight spots in life together.
Another theme: love doesn’t always come in the packages one expects. Oh, lord, am I in agreement with that. Read here, and here, for my previous articles about how Max was not at all what I was expecting, and how I didn't really even believe in being "in love". For starters, he was the wrong gender. (Monk had it easier when I fell for him, since I was much more open to the idea of being all starry-eyed about a guy.) I guess I was taking it for granted that smart people did not sort for life partners based on anything like height or hair color, or even really superficial traits like being allergic to dogs. But if that wasn’t clear, then let me say so: love is what’s important, not the package is comes wrapped in.
Also cited was the desire the author had for children, which I lack. Well, yes, that changes things. But the author already has a child, so it’s not like that’s the cause of her desire for marriage. What she seems to want is more income and assistance with caring for her child.
The fact that since sex is apparently not important, the author could live with another woman was discussed, although I don't think that would satisfy her.
It was mentioned that arranged marriages are still done in other cultures. Yes, they are. I don’t think that recommends them, but that’s neither here nor there, since that’s not what Ms. Gottlieb is talking about. She’s talking about acting as if she’s marrying for love, but without really being in love.
Life doesn’t always turn out like you thought. I find that trying to force it to match your expectations usually doesn’t work so well. I think one of the keys to happiness in life is learning to see the path the universe is laying out for you. And I think part of everyone's path is learning to love deeply and fully. I know that's a scary idea, since love makes us vulnerable. But I don't think that lesson is optional.