I would like to have a chat with an evolutionary biologist or anthropologist one day. (In fact I would like to study those subjects.) The question I have is: do you ever feel like an alien?
Do you, sitting down at your computer and sending long words into a cloud that has nothing to do with cumulonimbus, do you have that self-righteous feeling that if only “civilized” people would behave more naturally a lot of problems might just be avoided?
(Deists might ask themselves the same questions, they would probably define “naturally” in another way)
Civilized people are the only species on this planet that ignore natural rhythms for reasons other than safety (think 8 hour work day, 5 days a week for an entire year, ignoring circadian, seasonal , climatic and personal objections).
Civilized people are the only ones who insist on wearing clothes when there is no need to and contort their bodies in awkward positions like sitting on chairs or the toilet.
Civilized people are the only ones who do not know what, how and when to eat.
And of course, they are the only ones that I know of whose genders come together in close relationships that have nothing (much) to do with survival – children, food, protection, safety etc.
I have a good opinion about the above coming together. In all its many forms. Including marriage, as it happens. (And when I talk of marriage, it’s a general term, a bit easier to say than “the coming together etc.etc.).
I never was one who wanted or wished to get married. I never dreamt of beautiful ceremonies or ritualized commitments. So of course I found myself married 🙂
The marriages I had known about before have not been inspiring. Abuse, routine, divorce, nagging, cheating, compromise, hard work, what was there to like? Reading about marriage wasn’t much better, given that people of different cultures sanction marriages for all kinds of reasons that sound odd to say the least: getting pregnant, money and property, inheritance, power, promises, religion.
So, do I have the recipe for the perfect marriage? No. I have a recipe for a good marriage, mine to be exact. So for my marriage, this holds true: you need to start from a position of strength. Please note that I didn’t say equality, just strength. I was not pressured, commanded, pushed, coerced or cajoled into marriage. Nor did I need it. It was a choice of mine, and as such I am committed to it.
If the first condition is met, I reckon you are halfway there. But wait, there’s more 🙂
The second condition: being people takes precedence over everything else. Sounds basic, but culture and religion tend to prescribe a lot of what goes on in the privacy of one’s marriage. Number of people in that marriage, for example. The gender of the people in that marriage. The sexual positions that are acceptable. Who does the cooking, washing, cleaning in that marriage. Who works, rules, counts in that marriage. And if those tenets do not suit the people in that marriage? I say that the people come first. Rules that don’t serve the people do not a good marriage make.
The third condition: lay down the rules and don’t change them unless you change. Define cheating and personal space. Clarify points of contention and acceptable forms of endearment. Argue about the important things so you can compromise on the trivial. Be sure you can live with the other one’s rules.
You can love, like, help, support, respect, admire, hate, dislike, ignore and despise the other to your heart’s content at different times of the day. Be tender, playful, generous or the opposite. Food needs to be cooked, children need to be cherished, work around the house needs to be done. You can do that with flatmates, friends, genetic family. But if I want a good marriage, it behooves me to practice what I preach 🙂