Howdy Lovers, welcome to the twentieth consummation of HACK. If you’ve made it this far, don’t forget tomorrow is Give Your Wedding Ring to A Single Person Day. As per sacred tradition, the single person gets to bang the spouse of the person who gives them their ring, while you get to go out and bang everybody else’s spouse who is single for a day.
Last week I brought up two subjects I have no direct experience of: marriage and kids. I have neither. I once went steady with a girl when she had been separated for only four months. She eventually got the divorce and shared custody of her daughter. They are both my dear friends to this day. Later on I dabbled in the colors of a deaf artist with two hearing kids, a girl and boy. The kids’ father (also deaf) was somewhere south, seriously trying to get off the grid. So I’m not married and I don’t have kids but I’ve at least had a few years of experiences acting the part.
This week we’re going to take a closer look at that those spiritually legal unions that everyone thinks are the only the kind of unions that should be recognized and sanctioned by society.
Why do so many marriages seem to break down, end badly, or decay into bitterness and resentment, until death do them part? Are there inherent flaws in monogamy, the legality of unions, or both? Is the value of commitment not worth the ring that gets fingered? Or is it all just people who will always be doing what they do? Well, the causes of marital breakdown are probably about as numerous as the number of relationships out there. Of course there are similar threads, repeating patterns, and socio-cultural influences that determine what’s likely to happen in a standard marriage.
I guess I’m speaking of American marriages here since I don’t have any experiential data from elsewhere. But damn do I have it here. Experience. Friends I know. Friends of friends I know. High profile people I don’t know but who expose themselves via media. Let me tell you, even in my little bubble of a reality, there is a high level of infidelity goin’ on. Why? I think one of the main reasons is simply: monogamy is great and all, but it’s not for everyone. Another reason is: with the infinite possibilities of universal love, any combination of human beings can act as a family. We’re in the 21st century. It doesn’t take a village to raise a kid; it takes a whole damn planet. Why do you think we have so much variety of life on Earth? Because everything is trying to fuck everything else and see what comes of it.
This may hold true now more than at any other time in history given the level of technological connectedness unparalleled on our planet. Soon we’ll be doing all the things we do now with technology except we’ll be doing them with our own hearts and minds. Eventually we won’t even need physical bodies or gender separation and the whole concept of separate beings only becoming one by producing another physical one just like them will be irrelevant.
“I just think there are going to be a lot of steps between that and where we’re at now.” — Brian Dandrea
Fair enough. This may be part of the reason why marriages don’t work, because generally speaking, most human adults are still trapped in adolescence. I’m using that term in a broad sense. To paraphrase and verbosify Bill Hicks: Nations are nothing more than social cliques, the same kinds of group dynamics you see on a typical middle school playground, just magnified at the global scale. As below, so above, vice versa.
Conspiracy theory and paranoia may say that THEY want to keep us that way. We’re MUCH easier to distract and control that way. Either way, look at enough American males (you won’t have to look long or far) and you’ll see the damage wrought by whatever society we’ve created here. Same for women. In fact, more so for woman, says the misogynist in me. Without any attempt to support all those blatant generalizations, I’ll just say the point is that we live in a DIFFERENT society than the one that came before. Good ol’ family values don’t need to get thrown out, they just need to adapt.
Alpha Males, Alpha Bitches, the whole concept of Us v. Them trickles up and down into every single one of our relationships. Expectations of what the other could be or should be, not enough experience or foresight to suspect what would be and now is. One may argue that over the last few decades we’ve actually extended adolescence into the late 20s. I’ll buy that because it makes me the new 22.
Hey, I’m a perfect example. I didn’t move out of my parent’s house until age 27. Didn’t move out of my hometown until age 31. But now I’m here, just trying to survive, single. The idea of going through the buildup and social orgasm of a “traditional” wedding.
Then: Save money, buy a house, have kids, raise them, not have the spouse turn out to be crazy or unhappy or uninterested in passionate experience ever again or whatever. It all just seems so…unnecessary.
And yet it’s all I’ve ever really wanted since the time I was about 4 years old. Love with another, creating and nurturing new life. So I’m not completely trashing marriage.
A union can be beautiful. It can flourish if a family knows how to nourish each other…and others. It can be done, has been done and continues to be the reality for many married folk and their adorable little spawn-things.
Take my parents, for instance. They argued constantly. At times it seemed like, “How could these two people end up together?” Like if they only had the foresight to know it would be like this, they would have done differently. But that’s ridiculous. It’s all the same story, just different scenery. It’s really about how we play our parts.
My parents still seem like characters in some Sartre-esque farce, but I can assure you there is deep and binding love as well. So whatever, call it destiny. My parents, and yours, were fated to be together (at least long enough to fertilize) because well, you and I are here. And we’re grateful for that, right?
No matter what happened my parents stayed together. They take care of each other. Should they have separated or even gotten divorced in those times when things got rough? Who knows? I do know that my Dad had to go through it when his parents got divorced, right after he got home from the army. He swore he would never do that to his kids. My mother believes in the value of a commitment, that marriage is spiritual and a union of universal choice, i.e. your own wills.
“I Do…What Thou Wilt.”
Of course, the problem is that society tends to view marriage not as a commitment between souls but more of an abstract legal binding. It’s like the anti-carpet crawlers. You can get it in, but you can’t get out. Even separation and divorce can leave irrevocable emotional bonds that hold fast long after it’s all over—even into other lifetimes, perhaps.
So when it doesn’t work out, when things start going sour, the choice people take is either, do I try to make this work (which leads to, will my spouse do the same?), do I give up and stay for the kids, or do I separate and divorce and deal with those repercussions for the rest of my life?
This is why people stay in loveless marriages. They don’t want to deal with the disaster of a divorce, for whatever reason. They’d rather remain impotent (not gender specific) and go through the motions because it’s “easier.” Then you’ve got the other extreme, the ones who can’t make a serious commitment so they wantonly choose separation or divorce. Lastly, you’ve got the in-between state of affairs that so many married folk choose as their way out of a loveless marriage.
If monogamy is legally binding but polyamory prevails, and the consequences of breaking the marriage contract are so damaging, something’s gotta give. Thus, adultery. Perhaps our idea of what’s an acceptable union could adapt, transcending and including monogamy and other ways to co-mingle that we learn to psychologically handle in a responsible adult matter.
So what’s the deal with all the cheating? Is it really wrong? Should we make it socially legit? Or is it just a necessary evil, something we’ll always have to deal with? Even if we adopt a whole new philosophy on what constitutes a marriage, we eventually have to address infidelity in any proposed union, right?
I’d love to adulterate all those questions but the truth is I have not a clue why people do what they do. I was on and off with a girl for a number of years. The last time we got together, she was living with her boyfriend. Unhappily. Then I reappeared. Of course it’s not the same as someone who is married and/or with kids. But they did co-own the house they lived in. Both refused to leave, and selling the house would be a big loss. So once again the legality involved in separation kept those two living together.
As for the other guy, my pimp-minded friend Dyce the P said, “What’s he got to do with you?” “Nothing,” I replied. “Exactly,” he said. Maybe he’s made of stronger stuff. I just couldn’t accept myself being with someone who would do that to their partner. And I certainly wouldn’t want to be the guy who has no idea it’s happening to him. Me, I’ve always wanted one person to reciprocally love unconditionally for the rest of my human life. Maybe it’s the ingrained Catholic neuroses that linger in the back of this holy skull. But I actually want the commitment, the union, the home, the nurturing, and the spawn-things. I want it all but I want to do it RIGHT and I’m willing to wait many lifetimes for that to happen. Maybe that’s the whole damn problem!
And of course, that’s what almost everyone who chooses to give their love to someone else wants…to do it right.
Am I afraid that marriage is just the biggest and most clichéd ego trap of our lifetimes, or that it all depends on how I choose to live it but I might just fuck the whole thing up? Hells yeah I’m afraid of all that. Did I mention I don’t date much?
“It’s going to take a very special woman…or, a bunch of average ones.” –Bill Hicks
My ideal wedding would be one where me and the ol’ soulmate choose a destination that we tell to NO ONE. We go off, get married, video the whole thing (optional,) and stay on honeymoon for a long ass time. As for the actual ceremony on the video, that would be something completely unique that we will’ve brainstormed and executed. Meanwhile, previously appointed friends and family prepare the reception. We fly home and make our first appearance as a married couple immediately after the wedding video is played. Oh, and everyone is in costume. We’ll dress up as a bride and groom.
“Three most important things in a marriage are: communicate, communicate, communicate.” –My Dad
I’ll end with some brief advice for married folk: HAVE MORE SEX. Yep, that’s right, you heard me. Even if you have to force it at first, physical intimacy has been scientifically proven to increase psychological and emotional intimacy. Some pastor asked somewhere around 90 members of his congregation to commit to 30 consecutive days of lovemaking. The results reported by those couples were unprecedented. Passions were rekindled and communication once again flowed.
Well, this HACK has been long and hackneyed just like a lot of marriages out there. Tune in next week for a light-hearted holiday HACK entitled A Santa Story. Now there’s a guy who’s had a successful marriage.