Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Marriage, revisited

I recently had a conversation with Julie about marriage. Her question was whether we should reverence long-term marriages. It's a good post and a good conversation. Check it out if you haven't already.

My take, much distilled, is that marriage shouldn't be reverenced at all, but relationships need to be supported and nurtured. I also pointed out that for whatever reason, people still want/need long-term, committed relationships. We seem to be built that way. Whether it's family, friends, or lovers, we want people who will be in our lives for the long haul, and ending those relationships is extrememly painful.

Last night while I lounged on the bed sporadically reading my book, Iturned on the TV and caught part of a movie titled Shall We Dance? The movie is so-so, but it has an interesting message about marriage, midlife changes, and "finding yourself." (How cliche is that?) The character played by Susan Sarandon hires a private investigator because she thinks her husband is having an affair. The PI asks a rhetorical question at one point- "Why do people still want to get married?" Sarandon's character gives this answer, "People get married to have a witness for their life." She goes on to expand on that thought in a short monologue that I think is full of truth and insight. We live on a crowded planet. Marriage, or any long-term relationship, helps give our life continuity and meaning. Having someone witness our life helps validate it. I know as I get older the people who have known me for 10, 15, or even 20 years hold a special place in my life. They have the back story, they know the score, and they are still there. Witnessing my life, giving it meaning, supporting and loving me. In a society where other long-term relationships are fragile- community, friends, extended family- we want to think someone is committed to being there, not leaving, not moving away, but always there giving continuity to our days. Our lives are like art masterpieces that need viewers to appreciate them. What do they matter if no one is there to share the joy, beauty, and pain? Lovers, friends, families, communities all give our lives that shared meaning.

Why do people still hope and pray marriage works? At least partly because we want someone there to witness our life so we know it matters; that we matter.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

42 hours alone

True confession time. I think I'm turning into a closet introvert. For the past few years my evenings have consisted mainly of me retiring to my room to surf the web, read, or watch TV. Hopefully, by myself. And now I've spent the last 42 hours by myself, mainly in my house, alone, and it's been blissful. Heaven. Like getting into a warm, scented bath on a winter evening, or downing that first drink of something cool and wet after mowing the lawn, or jogging in the heat. For 42 hours no one talked to me, no one needed anything, and no one needed a ride anywhere. No deadlines.

I've watched five movies. I've read for hours. I ate only what and when I wanted. I exercised when I felt like it. I spent over an hour in a book store just browsing. I did laundry and cleaned my bathroom, but I even enjoyed that.

I never thought a weekend to myself as very appealing. I've known people to go on silent retreats and I thought that was cool, but not for me. Maybe it's age. Who knows. But while I love, love, love to spend time with my husband, and I enjoy my children and friends, I find I enjoy myself, too. And I find I really enjoy watching movies alone. And I like to read. And I like to "waste" time doing almost nothing.

I'm looking forward to my week alone with Will in July. That's a different and wonderful kind of alone time, and I treasure it even more than time totally alone. But totally alone has grown in appeal, at least for 42 hours. That's probably just the right amount of time. Or maybe about 42 more would be nice, too.