I realized my problem with blogging is that I take it too seriously, if only in my head. Sure, when I feel overwhelming guilt for going without posting for a long enough time, I tend to resort to short posts -- like a video, or a quote, or something of that nature. But really what I love to do is write the long posts. Unfortunately, they take a lot of time. Which might surprise you. You could be thinking, "I've never read anything on here that I couldn't slap together in 10 minutes." I wouldn't doubt it. But those longer posts of mine, they take me a few hours minimum. And then I edit them a few times. And then, depending on the post, I might even rewrite it once or twice. Seriously. I've done it. It's how I have to do it. Sometimes I lose sleep over it. Other times I develop rashes and/or addictive vices. I've even been known to steal candy from babies out of shere frustration. (That's strictly hush-hush.)
Again, that might seem ridiculous, considering the fact that few if any people even read my blog. So, why bother taking so much time? I have no idea. But when I write something, I want it to be perfect. And, granted, it rarely is. So I settle for decent grammar. My obsessive nature demands I fiddle and tweak and change until I'm just plain sick of looking at it and need something new to do. Like stealing more candy from other babies.
Knowing that, I tend to not even start. Throw in the fact that the last few months have been insanely busy for me. I say 'insanely' because there have been moments where I felt my head was preparing to mutiny and would relish walking the plank, leaving me alone and headless (not to be confused with brainless. My brain walked the plank many years ago). And being tired -- oh so tired. Some days at work we'll move a few thousand pounds of rocks around, and then I'll go home, eat, go to class for 3 hours, and make it home in time to get 6 or so hours of sleep. It can get old. My greying hair will back me up here.
But always my mind is working (except when it isn't), and I always have so many ideas that I'd like to write about. Alas, I always seem stuck in that same rut, of being tired on the one hand and knowing it'll take me a few hours to get my thoughts across just how I'd like on the other.
Right now, of course, it's almost midnight on a Saturday, and I just finished a paper, so I thought I'd spend a bit of my bedtime and write something. Anything. Kind of like what I've just done. But I don't want you to think that all I think about is thinking about thinking. That would be kind of silly. So here's one idea that's been nagging me:
marriage? I mean that quite literally. What exactly
is the definition of marriage? Let me explain how the question developed: one of my teachers often talks about her "partner". During one particular class she was discussing something or another, and she happened to mention that she and her "partner" have been together for over 25 years and have two sons. But they were never legally married, and she doesn't wear a ring and she didn't take his name. Yet, considering the way she talks about him, not to mention the length and depth of their relationship, I have a hard time grasping how that isn't
Now, I'm not saying marriage is meaningless or that there is no difference between a marriage and a "common-law" relationship. What I am saying is that I'm not so sure I understand what that difference is, at least not in a general sense. I comprehend the legal difference. I even comprehend, to some extent, why Christians differentiate the two. From the conversations I've had, people see marriage as making a public commitment, while a common-law relationship just sort of "happens" and that public declaration is missing.
I suppose part of my problem is that neither marriage or common-law relationships are the same in every situation. I can't imagine anyone arguing that there is "one way" to perform a marriage ceremony -- if two people visit a Justice of the Peace (or elope for that matter), rather than hold a ceremony in a church, no one would deny the validity of their marriage, would they? Let's not forget that the way most Western weddings are performed is not an ancient, internationally practiced ceremony; it's the result of hundreds of years of evolving customs, and most of what we see now come from Europe (and despite what some people might think, Europe isn't the world's oldest, nor the definitive, civilization. By any stretch of the imagination).
Take the wedding ring, for example. What the ring looks like or what it's made of, who wears a ring, how you wear a ring (some people might wear it around their neck, for example) can be different in any given relationship, anywhere in the world. And let's not kid ourselves about diamond rings -- jewelers make astronomical profits from them, so you can be sure their motives aren't based in sentiment or romance, or a desire to make your relationship that much more meaningful.
Every time I try to pinpoint something specific that would work as a definitive basis of marriage, I keep thinking of a hundred exceptions. If I try to argue, as Christian, from a Judaical perspective, I have to admit that nearly nothing about our modern wedding ceremonies is Jewish -- yet we don't consider them illegitimate. And if I try to argue that the legal document that is signed during the ceremony is what ultimately defines a marriage, I have to wonder how a secular government -- an institution that is in no way related to or affiliated with the church or with church doctrine -- somehow has the ability to officiate what, to the Christian, is a sacred relationship. (And I'd go so far as to ask at what point in the development of a new government are they granted the right to do so? And is a government guilty of slaughtering its citizens en mass still in a position to dictate marriage? Also, consider the fact that it's the government who gives legal right to a minister/pastor to perform the wedding -- does that seem strange to anyone but me? That again, a secular government that is separate in every respect from the church, gives someone who we would no doubt consider to be called by God "permission" to perform marriages?)
Another argument that I heard was that the difference between marriage and common-law relationships is that marriage requires more commitment, in that you have to sign a legal document which ultimately makes it much harder to leave. But that seems like rather shallow logic. First of all, that seems to assume that it would be "easier" to leave a common-law relationship than a marriage. I seriously doubt that. Maybe it requires less lawyers, but that's about it. The other problem I have with that argument is that it rests the sanctity of marriage on its negative. In other words, you and your wife/husband might hate each other, but ending it would be a much bigger hassle than you're willing to face, so the marriage remains "valid".
I also realize that in marriage, the legality of it has almost no bearing on your relationship (that's an assumption, mind you). Meaning, two married people aren't spending their lives reflecting on the piece of paper they signed that makes them legally married. I doubt couples even remember that piece of paper past the moment they sign it (or use it to check into a fancy honeymoon resort at a discount). And I haven't been to too many homes where that contract is framed and hanging proudly beside their wedding photos (hey, maybe some people do that. I'm just saying I haven't seen it). So it seems the legality of the union--at least, in our modern era--has little to nothing to do with the real definition of marriage. It's about how two people feel about each other, about a choice to spend their lives together, and their need to express that.
Yet that still brings me back to my question of how that differs from common-law. Sure, if two people were to simply move in together and there was no public declaration, I could understand where there'd be room for argument, whether all parties agreed in the end or not. But there's at least valid ground to work on. Still, I wondered, if two people decided against a wedding ceremony and instead had, say, their families over and said, "Mom, dad, others--we've decided to spend our lives together," could we consider that a marriage?
Like I said earlier, these are just thoughts floating through my mind. I am sincerely curious. I'm interested in what people have to say about it. And I'm not dismissing marriage as unnessary or even meaningless. Quite the opposite. What I am wondering is what it
is, what distinguishes it from something else. Do I have to accept that marriage is simply a legal document? I can't readily do that--I won't--if only on the grounds that that legal document, as far as I can see (and maybe I can't see far enough and that's my problem) bears no lasting consequence on the intimacy and complex interworkings between two married people.
Feel free to leave your thoughts. Challenge me. I happily welcome it.
I'm not sure if that came across as cynical. Because it wasn't meant to be. I promise you there is no cynicism in my questions. But I think, considering how cheap marriage has become to some and desperately craved by others, it would be good to fully understand what it is
. If it's cheapened, it's because people don't appreciate it. And that could well stem from a lack of understanding. And I certainly do not want to be someone guilty of that.