I owe this post to the beautiful and interesting Raven Marie, who writes about why people promise to cleave unto each other till death do them part and then walk out because they don’t like the way he squeezes the toothpaste. After all, a promise is a promise. Why bother even to make one if you don’t feel bound by it? Does marriage MEAN anything any more?
When I got married I made a promise. I’d have to say I wasn’t serious about it, actually I was so not serious I could hardly get the words out for falling about laughing. Death us do part! You mean people actually SAY that?? And you expect me to repeat that with a straight face?
To me, at the time, it wasn’t a promise, it was just words you had to say. So why GET married if I felt like that? I thought’d it be nice. I wanted to be independent from my parents. I loved him and I wanted to feel like I had more hold over him than just ‘oh yeah, he’s my boyfriend.” I wanted to call myself married. All sorts of REALLY dumb reasons. I was 20. not the kind of intelligent serious 20 that Raven Marie is, but a sort of mixed up vulnerable 20 who did things cause ‘whatever’ before ‘whatever’ was even invented.
So NOW what do I think about marriage and promises? After all, I got divorced.
I think you can’t MAKE a promise to love someone forever – love comes and goes unbidden – and if you make a promise to stay with someone forever anyway, you’ve got to be pretty damn serious. Because if, five years into forever, you find that you can’t stand the sight of their face, that everything that’s fun about life is not THEM, that their arguments are puerile and you hate each other’s families – as I did – you STILL have to stay with them for as long as you both shall live. Why? Because you made a promise.
Maybe I should’ve thought about that before I married him. But it’s not possible to know what people are going to become, or to make a perfect judgement. Maybe I should have just stuck it out. But this was my life, the only life I’m ever going to have. Was I going to make that one life, miserable unto death because I made a promise – and that promise made before I was even old enough or savvy enough to know what a promise really should be?
Well obviously for me the answer was no. But then, these days, I don’t promise what I can’t deliver, and I know I can’t promise to stay with someone no matter what till the end of our days. I can say I’ll try, and that’s the best I get. I still like the idea of marriage and if my soulmate asked me I’d accept with alacrity (if I had a bloody soulmate that is!) BUT I’d modify the vows. My vows would go something like this:
I vow to remain married to you till death us do part or till I really really don’t like you any more.
Doesn’t sound quite so romantic somehow.
Postscript: my ex is actually a nice guy. For me, sadly, a living death to be married to, but a sweet man to be divorced from.