Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A post on marriage

I've wanted to do a post on marriage for a long time, and I probably will more in detail some other time.

The observations I've made that drive me to thinking about it are that people treat marriage the way they used to treat having a girlfriend or boyfriend. "Marriage" in action is actually more often a cohabitational 'going steady'.

I realized that, now two or three generations into it being acceptable to be divorced and to solve problems through divorce, there's a good chance that very few people even know what a good marriage looks like, and even fewer who were raised with parents in a good marriage who could model how married people act.

In other words, I don't think people know how to be married anymore. Like using herbal remedies to cure sicknesses, it is an art and science that is passed on culturally that is lost.

The other observation I had recently came yesterday, while I was sitting in the waiting room while they operated on Nathanael. Beside me, an older woman was talking on her cell phone about her son's surgery. Older like in her seventies, with gray hair and hard-earned wrinkles. And she was talking more about how sexy she found the doctor than about her son's (fairly miserable) prognosis.

I was offended. I imagine that hot young doctor and his wife would have been, too.

I kept thinking of it in terms of my brother is studying to be a doctor--do I want women drooling over him? How would he like that? Would knowing that was going on affect his ability to do his job?

It wasn't the words she was saying that were so deeply offensive.

It was the behavior. It was the fact that it is not even culturally tolerated, but rather culturally expected for us to choose to notice a person's physical appearance and then, if possible, lust after it.

And coming out of an old woman's mouth, the words really hit me as sophomoric.

Why have we culturally embraced high school behavior and made it the ideal?

Why have we made it a collective goal to be teenagers, all the while decrying their behavior while we try to emulate it?

I think it is partially because we have turned into a culture (ironically) that first tolerated and then accepted singleness, and now values it above marriedness. Our culture actually teaches us to lust broadly and be lusted after as much as possible, and that therein lies our personal value. It is an immature way of approaching our bodies and our souls. It is, at heart, an intensely selfish way of looking at the world, and selfishness is, ultimately, isolating. And that, friends, is one of the reasons marriage as an institution is failing in our world--we have placed higher value on self than on family.

And then we mourn a culture of isolation and aloneness while we reject the very things that could cure the problems.

These behaviors have always been in the world (I mean, really, who hasn't heard of 'dirty old men'?). The difference is that now there is not a stable body of happily (or at least established) married people who value maturity, dignity, responsibility--you know, all those old-fashioned values.

I find it deeply sad that the only people who seem to really care about and value marriage are the homosexuals. Those of us who have right to the blessing seem to resent it and work against it more often than value and nurture it.

I'm not complaining about my marriage, personally. I feel like I'm the luckiest gal in the world in my marriage, but it's certainly not without attention, care, and cultivation (I daren't say 'work' like so many people do--that implies disagreeable, laborious action, and the action it takes to make a marriage happy is most agreeable to me). And it is absolutely without the choice (and it IS a choice--you can't fool me into thinking it is inevitable and unavoidable and natural) to look elsewhere and lust after people who have no right to my attentions.

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