Friday, April 29, 2011

Marriage - True Love or a Business Decision?

I think my ability to love a man in an eternal, selfless, unconditionally loving more-than-friends way is broken.  I listened to the general authorities council that they encourage us to get married young because the older we get, the more we develop tendencies that are not conducive to a happy marriage.  I don't believe those were moral-issue tendencies to which they referred.  I believe those were issues such as being overly independent, which in a relationship can translate to selfishness.  And I believe I am very guilty.

Every man I date I have a great time with.  But have I thought, "Holy cow!  What an amazing life partner he would be!?"  Like a team, you know?  I instead think, "He'd be fun to have around, but would my life really improve personally, professionally, spiritually from having him around forever?"  The answer is always, "I don't know."  Then it makes me think maybe I think too much of myself and no one will ever be that man whom I would "go into business with."

Are any of the men I've dated men I would, in the business world, go into business with?  Can I go into the business of eternal marriage with them?  Of building a life together?  Of creating life together?  I mean we are talking the BIG time.

I hear the men being counseled over and over again to get married, date, etc.  I hear them being reprimanded.  And I feel guilty because it isn't strictly their faults.  I try to give them a chance, I really do, but I just don't feel sure about any of them.  Then I wonder if maybe I should just pick one who is a good man and stick with him.  But doesn't he deserve that woman who is as head-over-heels unconditionally in love with him as he is her?  I've heard some say this doesn't matter to them, that he will take the woman he loves any way he can have her. I have loved, but I want to love my spouse as unconditionally as he loves me - it is only fair, isn't it?

I feel as if my capacity to love a man just isn't there.  But why?  It's not as if I was severely abused or damaged in some serious way in my childhood.  And my parents have the most romantically wonderful loving relationship anyone could ever hope for. 

I don't like going to people for help (I do love giving the help), yet a huge part of relationships is letting someone help you and helping someone else, compromising on daily schedules, making decisions based off of what is best for "we" instead of what is best for "me."  I have thirty years of decisions based on ME....just up and changing that is not going to be a simple task.

I worry I'll never find that person I just know is the right person.  Why?  I know I could have married two or three of the men I've dated and been happy, but I just can't bring myself to make that decision because I don't feel as if I know.  Is there someone out there who would be a better life partner?  If so, will I ever find him?  And when I do, will I feel there is someone yet who is a better match for me?

Do I demand way too much from men I date simply as an excuse to never have to take that leap of faith?  The easiest choice is to run away.

When will I ever just sit back and say, "My life is blessed, and you are a blessing in it, and I want to share our lives together?"

We, as human nature, fear the unknown.  I was unhappy once many years ago and I fear a decision that leads me into an unknown place where I could possibly have hurt again.  Marriage lets go of my independence - my choices are no longer my own and I lose control over my own life.  And it freaks me right out. 

I need to heed the words of the Church of England from today's big event, "people have forgotten God today and rely solely on each other in the marriage. The only way to make it work is by having faith in God." Oh, and George Michael - "You gotta have faith (a-faith-a-faith)."

Is marriage a business decision or is the fairy tale of true love real? 


Janell said...

I despise the notion that older individuals are less suited to marriage - it makes the people who aren't married young sound like faulty goods of some sort. I think a great deal of that "get married young" is a cultural misinterpretation of, "make marriage a priority and don't delay marriage in favor of other priorities."

I need to rant for a moment.

Couples who marry in their early twenties (and earlier) have their own set of trials that force them to unite as a couple. Couples in marry in their late twenties (and later) have a different set of trails that force them to unite as a couple. Neither path is better than the other. Neither path is harder than the other. I challenge any statement that someone who is "older" is setting themselves up for a difficult marriage.

It kind of drove me nuts, and I know I quote this often, that much of the marriage advice I was given was "it's ok that it's hard in the first year," and "it's ok to live only on love for awhile." These individuals -- I believe all married before either spouse had an education -- had experienced these challenges in their marriages and became stronger for it. My marriage? Well, somehow only those closest to me took note that I was a professional engineer marrying a professional engineer; our struggles were not going to be related to having nothing but love to live on.

Did we have our struggles? Oh, yes, but none of them overly burdensome. Were a lot of the struggles as a result of our age and "being set in our ways"? Many, yes. Did that make marriage impossible or doomed to failure? No, no no. Quite frankly, I think having had to wait for so darn long for marriage meant both of us were much more prepared for marriage than the average, younger couple and it both meant that we were more committed to making it work than the average, younger couple.

When we were engaged, I think it was my dear and resplendent mother-in-law who observed my then-fiancé and I were conducting ourselves very much like a business merger. And, yes, there is and ought to be a lot of truth to that. Do we have similar goals or missions in life? Do we have similar desires? Similar tendencies? Do our money philosophies agree with each other? What are our combined hopes and dreams? What do we need to compromise on? Over the several months of engagement we talked extensively about what we together expected our future life to be like. I believe our first year of marriage was made much smoother by our efforts to lay a good foundation during our engagement.

Of course, we would not have started "business merger" talks if we first weren't in love. Love is the key element, the key spark, the willingness to be vulnerable, and the motivation to seek a compromise.

So it's a business decision motivated by love :)

Thank you.

miss kristen said...

I'm right there with you sister--well almost. Although I am proud of the fact I take care of me and am 100% independent, I have also noticed that I WANT to be able to depend on someone. Mr. Wonderful WANTS me to depend on him. Not in the financial "get back in the kitchen way", but rather the "I'm taller/stronger/more knowledgeable on this subject than you. I see you're struggling, and I WANT to help you because I love you. Please let me help." I resist because the last person I depended on broke my heart and left me. So I decided it was just easier to stay self-sufficient because then I KNOW I always be able to fix the wiring on the sound system, open the peanut butter jar, and get the screw loose on my own. Because for me there is only one thing worse than being alone-feeling helpless.
I love Mr. Wonderful so I'm working on trusting him enough to carry some of my yoke because we are a team.
And Riss-it's true. One day you will just know when you've met your match. Although I loved Fiancee #1 there was always a lingering doubt-enough to make me wonder if I was ACTUALLY making the right decision. With Mr. Wonderful I just KNOW he is my Eternal Companion. Sure I have the questions of "am I making the right choice?" "do I love him as unconditionally as he loves me?" "will I really be able to give up my single selfishness and be able to think of my decisions in terms of a partner as well?"
Well honey you won't learn to fly unless you take that initial leap. All I know is I'm happy, loved, and HF hasn't told me I'm completely off my rocker with my choice. So I'm going with it. And it's been pretty awesome so far.

miss kristen said...

AMEN Janell

Unknown said...

I am a hopeless romantic. True love IS real. I am not saying I buy into the soul mates thing, but I do believe in something more than "you can make it work with anyone."
When you marry you don't have to lose yourself. I think those that marry young THINK that is what marriage is, and then 10 years down the line their marriage is on the rocks because individually they feel like they don't know who they are. Not because there is not love but because of an identity crisis. When you are older you know more about what YOU like to do, and HOW you like to do it and you see you can STILL do those things. That doesn't negate compromise, but it just means that you are old enough to say "hey I am going to paint while you watch the game" and nobody's feelings are hurt because you are old enough to know that you don't have to do EVERYTHING together to still be in love. I think getting married when you are older should thrill you even more than it does a teen because you can see even more how amazing a partnership is especially when he makes you smile so hard you stop breathing and challenges you to be better.
I know you know nobody is perfect, but marriage is about finding someone who will support you in becoming your best. The trick is not getting sucked into a cynical attitude that you won't find him just cause you haven't yet.
Everyone feels like they dated men they would never marry until they find the one they would. It's like when you find something, its always in the last place you look... figures :). You may not KNOW yet, but hold onto the faith that Heavenly Father will show you when he is there.
love ya. said...

I agree wholeheartedly with what Janell said.

I remember thinking as a young woman that if you weren't married by the age of 23, you were an OLD MAID.

I got married EXTREMELY young at the age of 18. Back then a lot of people told me I was too young to get married, (despite the cultural pressure to marry young), but I didn't want to hear it.

Now that I have more life experience and have been married almost 15 years, I have often regretted marrying so young. I didn't have the chance to enjoy being single, live on my own, to discover who I was, or to explore the world.

I can see how easy it would be for a young marriage to fall apart. I have changed so much as a person, multiple times since I was 18. Sometimes when people change, their spouses don't change with them, and they drift apart.

I'm lucky enough that even though I am not the same girl I was when I got married, my husband and I changed together. I have been able to find myself, despite being married, and we have explored the world together.

My 18 year-old self believed wholeheartedly in the TRUE LOVE you read about in books or see in movies. But my older self is more practical. Marriage is very much like a business merger. It's about give and take, compromise, juggling responsibilities, and establishing common ground. It's about sharing your finances, splitting housework and childrearing, teamwork, budgeting, and planning.

I also really identify with SingletonMD. I don't believe you can "make it work with anyone (if you are righteous in the church)". My mother spent many years trying to make her temple marriage to my dad work. She kept thinking that if she prayed harder, magnified her calling more, held more family home evenings, went to the temple more, paid more tithing, that she could make her marriage work, and she would be happy.

You absolutely DON'T have to lose your identity to be married. As a young 18 year-old bride, I expected that we would spend every waking minute together, have all the same hobbies, and friends, and that we would fulfill each other's every need. But I was disappointed when I realized I was miserable sitting at home alone on the couch, waiting for my husband while he worked long hours.

It took me many years to realize it was okay if we had separate friends. It was okay if he wanted to watch the game, I could go out with my friends, go read a book, or be in a play. And we could still do things we both enjoy together.

Today, I am a fiercely independent person, despite being married, and I am a stronger person for it. I believe it makes my marriage more well-rounded, and strengthens our bond as a couple.

Do I believe TRUE LOVE exists? Yes! It may not be the same passionate, romantic, true love that my 18 year-old self believed in. But real TRUE LOVE means being able to count on someone, being able to trust them, and realizing they are a wonderful father and provider.

Anonymous said...

I am here to tell you that the Fairy Tale of true love IS REAL!

It has been a huge adjustment getting married and changing my thinking over to us, and not me (especially financially!) But it is the most worthwhile and happy thing you'll ever do!

First of all, you do need to find someone who is head over heels in love with you and thinks you're the most beautiful girl in the world! AND... You need to be head over heels for him too! It's really fun when those two things are present! When you find someone who tells you how much he loves you and how beautiful you are, you suddenly feel like Mohana-you-ugly after her father gets all those cows for her! Even when you're pregnant and gaining weight by the week, he still looks at you and tells you how sexy you are! That is when you really know you found the perfect man! I always thought the head-over-heels thing wasn't necessary, but I'm so glad I held out for it because I think it is one of the most important things! I love being head-over-heels for my husband and I love that he is head-over-heels for me!

Now for the everyday. This is where you really realize that people were made to be married! Every day you have someone you love to be with, come home and spend time with you. You make plans for the future together and build a life with the one person in the world you can't live without! You have someone who cares about everything that happened to you in the day while you were apart and who wants to hold you while you fall asleep at night! It's the kind of companionship that fairy tales all allude to when they say ... And they lived Happily Ever After.... I don't think a day has gone by since I got married that I haven't thought - wow! being married is the BEST!- It is so much better than being single in every way! But it is only so great because I waited for the right man! I can see how marrying the wrong person could be the worst!

Now, I'm not saying that I never had doubts about Will being the right person for me when we were dating, but I always knew he was amazingly perfect for me and better than any man I had ever dated! I can say that I have never had a moment of doubt since we got married! I love him more today than I did on our wedding day! That's the amazing thing about love, it is always growing.

I always had a twinge of loneliness (as far back as I can remember), but ever since Will came into my life that emptiness has gone away completely! I feel more free and happy being married than I have ever felt in my entire life! People were meant to be happily married and that is why we worry about it and think about it so much when we're single! We're not supposed to be perfectly content without a mate! I used to think to myself, "I have everything I want except one thing (marriage) why can't I just be content? What's wrong with me?" Now I know why I couldn't be perfectly happy. The cheesy line "you complete me." is so true!

Love you Larissa, and good luck in your dating! Hold out for the fairy tale! it's worth the wait!

Larissa said...

You all are inspirational and amazing.
Annnnd....pretty much made me tear up a little.
I could feel the love each of you have for your spouses and for me in all of your words.

stephanie said...

Larissa, I COMPLETELY concur! I have the exact same problem. The older I get, the smarter and more jaded I get. That's why every once in awhile, I LOVE having a crush (even if it goes absolutely nowhere) because it proves to me that I'm not as incapable of this love thing as I sometimes suppose.