Sep 20, 2012

The Institution of Marriage

I've probably mentioned somewhere else on this blog that my parents have been married for 43 years.  Any way you slice it, that's a really long time.  They have been through thick, thin, good times and bad, sickness and health, and my dad told me they meant it when they said they will be together until death do them part.

My parents.  43 years together and still going strong.

They are best friends and do everything together.  They planned their lives together, then worked to achieve the goals they had set for themselves and their family.  They raised three strong, beautiful young women (no bias here at all!) and taught them the value of being financially and intellectually smart in order to support themselves in adulthood.  And although the paths we set for ourselves may not have always been what they envisioned for us, they never left our sides.  Sure they'd let us know they weren't happy, but they still supported us 100%.

I have often said that I would like to have a marriage as strong as my parents'.  One where we have each others backs and plan a future where we live happily ever after together.  Looking back on the first time I said my vows, I realize now that I was too young to understand their significance.  Which 21 year old knows that the person they are marrying is the one they want to spend the rest of their life with?  At 21, the rest of your life is a really long time!  At least 50 years!  I hadn't lived the best years of my life yet before I became attached to someone else and assumed the identity of wife and mother.  I didn't know who I was...I was still figuring that out.  Now I understand it was way too soon for me to make such a huge commitment.

So what about now?  I'm closing in on 32 years on God's green earth.  Now is the time a lot of my friends are thinking about getting married and having kids.  Seems like every time I log into Facebook someone is announcing their engagement and posting wedding , ultrasound or new baby pictures.  When I was with JI, those announcements hurt.  I'll admit I was jealous.  I wanted to be announcing our engagement and posting wedding pictures!  I felt like I was ready!  But now that I'm single again, I'm not so sure. 

Why, you ask?  Let me tell you!  For every image of successful love, I can think of 3 instances of love gone wrong.  For example:

Succesful love: President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle.
Love gone wrong: Tiger and Elin Woods, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, Shaq and Shaunie O'Neal.
Successful love: Jay-Z and Beyonce
Love gone wrong: Eddie and Nicole Murphy, Guy Ritchie and Madonna, Sandra Bullock and Jesse James.
And don't even get me started on those quickie "marriages" we've been hearing so much about lately]...think Kris Humphries and Kim Kardashian, Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson and Evelyn Lozada and Britney Spears and the dude she was married to for less than 3 days...
I could go on but I think you see my point.
Maybe you think that's just typical of celebrities to marry and divorce as often as they change their underwear, and divorce is not as rampant in "real life.  Not true.  All you have to do is look at Census Bureau divorce statistics to know that.
What has happened to the institution of marriage that has caused many people in my generation to not take it as seriously as my parents' generation did?  Do women fall in love with the idea of the fairytale wedding and forget about the lifetime of reality that follows?  Are men blinded by the notion of having a woman at home to cook, clean and take care of the kids to the point he fails to plan for their future together?  Or is divorce so simple a solution that it's more of a backup plan if the marriage takes a wrong turn than a last resort?
What are your thoughts on the institution of marriage?  Do you still have faith that "happily ever after" can be a reality?




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