When the ex-hubs and I hooked up, we figured that we at least knew how “not” to be married. Between the two of us, our parents had 11 marriages on the books. The ex and I, in our infinite wisdom of 21 and 25, thought we had been given some good examples of what not to do. Fortunately though, we had also witnessed some pretty great marriages as well. Each of us had a set of grandparents that inspired us. In addition, my father and step-mom were a constant reminder of what I wanted in a relationship. These folks didn’t have it any easier than those that called it quits. I was not privy to the intimate conversations and happenings in each relationship, but I do know they were not always rainbows and fishnets.
Sometime in April, I took the boys to a local Easter egg hunt. It was annual community event organized by a local farm. That being said, with only two degrees of separation in the area, I was bound to run into someone I knew. Oh should I say, someone that “knew me”. As the boys and I were running around looking for eggs, they noticed the boy that lives next door to their dad’s house. They spend a lot of time outside playing with said boy so they scream the boy’s name to get his attention. The three boys begin discussing their recent hunt and shared their winnings. While the boys are beaming with pride over every egg they crack, I get to meet the neighbor boy’s dad.
I offered my name and explained my relationship to the boys/their dad/this guy’s neighbor. He has seen me enough during drop-off or pick-up at his neighbor’s at this point; he should have a general idea of my role. However, niceties are expected. As the neighbor dad and I follow the boys and get acquainted, he quickly asked if I have remarried since my divorce. Then he realized we are only about 5 words into our very first conversation and he stops. He looked at me quickly and shyly and mutters something like that is really none of his business. I confirm his suspicion, and tell him in fact it is not his business, then add that I have not remarried.
What is the big deal about getting or being married? Does being divorced or unmarried at a certain age make a person less desirable? Further more, why are some divorced folks in such a rush to remarry when they find a new partner? When you meet one of these aliens do you assume the reason they are not married is because they are somehow defective? I have friends that have chosen not to have children. I now understand their complaints about people that look at them like something is wrong with them for “not wanting” kids. The same thing holds true for those that choose to not marry or remarry.
My mother had four wedding albums when she died. Her last 15 years were spent with a devoted partner that loved her unconditionally, whom I call my step-father. They never married. To the surprise of many, they did not spontaneously combust either.
The problem I have with marriage is that it has become a religious thing. Until 1686, marriage was strictly a civil and not an ecclesiastical ceremony for the Puritans in Massachusetts Bay. The Protestant Reformation of the 16th century rejected the prevailing concept of marriage along with many other Catholic doctrines. Martin Luther declared marriage to be “a worldly thing . . . that belongs to the realm of government”, and a similar opinion was expressed by Calvin. The English Puritans in the 17th century even passed an Act of Parliament asserting “marriage to be no sacrament” and soon thereafter made marriage purely secular. It was no longer to be performed by a minister, but by a justice of the peace. You know, that whole separation of Church and State thing.
That being said, I am about to speak out of the other side of my mouth. I love the idea of marriage. When I got married, I loved the idea that I will spend the rest of my life with that man. I will grown old with him and watch my children have children. We will share secrets and inside jokes. That which does not kill us will make us stronger. You know what I’m talking about. What I realized, during the decay and end of my marriage almost a decade later, is that I still get to do all of that with my ex. I even get to grow old with my him, just not as his wife. He is still apart of my life (whether he likes it or not). I am proud to say he is the father of my children. I look back fondly on our time together. Heck, we did a lot of pretty good stuff doing our time. At this point in my life, my ex has been a regular part of the cast in the play for 15 years; he is bound to have an important role. Our time together was temporary though.
Looking back, I wonder if things would have been different in the end if I had acknowledged that it might be temporary; if ending it would have been less painful with that mindset. If I had been less “attached”, would the “detaching” have been easier? (a little foreshadowing there) I think what people have a hard time wrapping their head around is the idea that in one’s lifetime, you may in fact be in more than one committed relationship. Nothing is permanent. My kids go through phases, I go through phases, if you live anywhere other than Oklahoma, the seasons even change. The only constant we have is change. As humans, we attach ourselves to people, places and things. Ideally, when you commit yourself to another, you want to grow and change together; support each other and encourage each other through each phase. However, for reasons which I do not have room for in this post, it doesn’t always work that way.
When I reference non attachment, I am not talking about detachment. I do not mean one should be single. On the contrary, we are made to be with others. I am actually talking about one of the wisest gifts we can give ourselves by letting go of our attachments. “According to the Buddhist point of view, non attachment is exactly the opposite of separation. You need two things in order to have attachment: the thing you’re attaching to, and the person who’s attaching. In non attachment, on the other hand, there’s unity. There’s unity because there’s nothing to attach to. If you have unified with the whole universe, there’s nothing outside of you, so the notion of attachment becomes absurd. Who will attach to what? When a single person is as happy alone as with someone, they will no longer have to manipulate or “people-please” to win the heart of someone. If they do have a spouse or partner, they are able to love that person for who they are, not for what they get from them. Is that not the basis of a genuine, mature love…or marriage?
So the elephant in the room remains: will I ever remarry? Who knows and who really cares.