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August 18, 2010


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So interesting Eleanor. David and I just celebrated our 5th anniversary so I've had reason to think about marriage a lot over these past few days. I was fortunately not raised to fantasize about marriage as a goal and the perfect wedding and such and so I was never particularly eager to marry, even when I was younger and it seemed that everyone was doing it. The question that often comes up today, given our relaxed attitudes toward sex and cohabitating w/out marriage is why do it? Well, that's a subject for another post but even with those relaxed attitudes there is an odd social pressure to marry, especially when you're in your twenties and thirties and even more so if you live in a smaller town and have an otherwise "conventional" life. One thing I hate is the assumption that it's the woman who becomes desperate to marry when my experience and that of many of my female contemporaries suggests otherwise. Well, this is complicated indeed. I'm interested in what others have to say. Thanks.

I'm coming at this from another perspective, since Rick and I have been together for almost 30 years and married for 28 this fall. And now, in the midst of we are of a crisis of illness, what it means to be married is something new, even after all these decades. Our marriage has been difficult, and sometimes it was appalling - I think I can speak for both of us when I say we feel that what we have now is hard-fought and hard-won. We've earned it. Certainly, what being married means is different to us now than even five years ago. I think we would fight harder for it now than we ever would have before. Lordy, it sure wasn't easy to get to this point. But now there is enormous comfort and satisfaction recognizing that we have gotten here. But you never coast. Never.

Great post Eleanor---I especially love the first few sentences. Very well said.

What about making the same decision everyday for the rest of one's life? Isn't this the concept we are ultimately getting at when we speak of marriage? I have been waking up everyday, for the past nine years, and love that I am next to my wife each morning. This is neither boring nor redundant, it is not even a conscious thought anymore; rather, it has turned into a warm and cozy feeling. Even on those days, sometimes weeks at a time, when we are not emotionally synchronized, and not sleeping in the same bed. I have been to gay Jewish weddings, straight Catholic ones, and inter-racial and -religious ones. The same thing happened at each of these ceremonies: there was a social and legal contract agreed upon by the two people in celebration of their love for each other. More importantly, the word contract...My personal experience regarding contracts, any kind of contract for that matter, car-rentals, financial loans, and medical related terms and legal conditions, has always put the pressure on. I especially feel like I can't wait until a contract as such ends so that I am not bound to possibly mess something up, get sued, or owe something I don't have to give. These same ideas seem to rear their heads in many marriage contracts. I must admit, that when I first stated that I love waking up and am in love with my wife that this term wife -- I may possibly be using it illegally because we are not in a legal marriage contract recognized by the government. I have and continue to have a commitment that binds me to myself, and an extension of this loyalty is inclusive to the person whom I love, accept, and have complete respect for -- this has become my definition of marriage - the one that I share with my wife. And maybe one day, when the laws pass gay marriage we will tie the knot, but only for tax reasons. On another note, I happened to have a conversation with a wise man recently and the topic was marriage. He said, now if I remember correctly, that as long as a married couple has a good, healthy sex-life then the rest will take care of itself.

Excellent post.

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I left it
on when I
left the house
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of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
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"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman

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