I really wanted to use the word ‘antidisestablishmentarianism’, but unfortunately, it’s a specific term describing a specific political movement which went against the proposal to discontinue the Church of England as the State Church of Ireland and Wales.

Try as I may to flex my writer’s prowess, I can’t make that term relevant to what I’m thinking I want to write about. And that’s a pity, cus I really wanted to use that word in context, but oh well.

Instead, I’ve coined my own nonsense in the interest of relevance. The institution in my term refers to the institution of marriage. By a baffling twist of double negatives, the anti-diss bit means that my mind-set is against the dissing of marriage- rather unexpectedly.

It’s not a major revelation that an individual’s personal situation can influence their outlook on something.

For example, a child of devout Catholics likely harbors a different view regarding organized religion than a child raised to approach devotion with an atheistic, intellectual bent.

Fair enough.

My perspective toward marriage derives from being a child of divorced parents, one of whom stayed single, the other who entered, almost immediately, into another dysfunctional though long-lasting union.

My adult experiences have had the ‘other side of the coin’ slant to them as well. A pie-graph of my past relationships would depict a visual wedge of married men, as well as divorced, disenfranchised, and custody-battered veterans incapable of attachment.

Given both the verbal and observational information, it would be kind of easy to see marriage as ‘AVeryBadThing’, a tool for manipulation, power and misery, not to mention a good means of preserving the status quo, an illusion to provide fools with a sense of safey and security, and another means of creating categories and divisions for people. (How many of us have observed a husband or wife eliminating the single friends from their spouse’s roster in order to preserve that perception of  safety?)

There’s a lot of negatives possible in the marriage equation. And personally, I have never benefitted much from the positive aspects, so they can seem as alien as foreign soil.



However: I really don’t like it when I’m watching a comedian on t.v., or listening to a radio show, and they say something negative and cynical about the state of marriage.

There is something so base and unimaginative about an outlook that calculates the quality of a mystery based on the visible parts.

And love-  long lasting love, is a mystery. The institution which symbolizes that love is likely as flawed as the beings that design and utilize it, but we continue to run willy-nilly toward the precipice of legally expressing that union for reasons that cannot be explained (though easily hijacked) by moral convention, economic need, or a deep strain of species specific masochism.

Much like religion, the institution of marriage is the best and the worst of human endeavor. It symbolizes something deeply vulnerable to cynicism and cultural undermining. Like religion, the interpretation and execution of a marital union can go horrifically, irrevocably wrong.

Marriage is basically as strong and true and good intentioned as its participants. I think it can bolster loyalty and forgiveness by providing a framework where two people, hanging on by a thread, actually have a thread to hang onto.

And while i don’t desire 99.9% of the marriages I’ve witnessed as a personal destiny, a little part of me wants a marriage that I haven’t seen before: My own ideal of a loving and committed relationship.

Maybe it wasn’t so strange that my past didn’t offer up that vision, because it certainly didn’t offer up the partner to that vision- and it’s hard to design a beneficial give-and-take all on your own.

So I’ve kind of made a choice to reject the cynicism that so easily surrounds the institution of love. It’s kind of cute, actually, that people- no matter how wise and informed and apprised of the statistics- will still make that leap, over and over to love and to cherish; to honor and obey.

Wouldn’t it be cool if no one ever knew failure or weakness? Wouldn’t it be cool if willingness to promise life-long devotion was always rewarded with a warm and loving outcome?

I think that would be really cool. So when it comes to married and hopeful friends, all I really have to say is, “Congratulations. May you bring each other joy.”

9 thoughts on “antidissinstitutionalmentarianism

  1. It’s funny . . . or maybe it’s weird . . . perhaps a little sad, but I’ve never really given much thought to marriage, my own or others, until I started feeling quite passionately about marriage equality. Somehow in my mind gay marriages seemed nobler, more romantic than conventional marriages. Go figger. Growing up I really saw no good models of marriage, though in my circle of friends everyone seemed to have intact families – mommy and daddy stayed together no matter how joyless the union. Marriage never looked inviting or fun or romantic or any of that good shit. So, I guess I’ve opted out. *shrugs shoulders*

  2. I guess I was never a firm believer (or non-believer, for that matter) in the so-called institution of marriage. Although I do believe there can be bliss without the wedded part. And you can never tell. Good things happen to good people (eventually) and one day you just may find yourself on the happy end of antidissinstithingamjig.

  3. Ya know, hard as it may be to believe (and even I find it hard to believe) there are marriages that last. I get to be the voice of experience here, after 33 years with the same guy. And I didn’t even believe in good marriages before I got married, ’cause I’d never really seen one. I’m guessing its been about a 80% good/15% kinda good/ 5% don’t go there marriage. That’s not bad, spread over all those years.

    I try to keep this in mind, and it is helpful. In a 50/50 marriage, each person needs to give 100%.

    It is pretty awesome, A, that after 33 years I can still honestly say I’m still in love. I would say I’m lucky–but then luck generally requires a fair amount of effort to make it work.

    OK-off soapbox! :-)

  4. Now I should be an expert here after over fifty-one years of marriage, but there are no experts, only truly committed lovers. Those who realize there is no ONE marriage, but a series of marriage stages. You can go through them with several spouses or the same one. That’s not always the case, but I’ve seen it enough to know it happens a lot. I’ve also seen second marriages that way out shined the first fatally flawed ones. You have to figure which kind you are in. That’s my Dear Abby for the day.

  5. There’s nothing inherently wrong with marriage … there are things inherently wrong with people, sometimes.

    I know people with happy long-lasting marriages … and happy long-lasting unions that haven’t ever been officially sanctioned. A marriage is only as good as the folks in it. And when you think of how crazy and bizarre many people are, it’s no wonder that many marriages are a reflection of that. But that’s not marriage’s fault.

  6. Interesting topic. It’s probably no surprise that I’ve been thinking a lot about marriage lately, with my youngest son getting married and all.

    I like what Anhinga wrote about there being “no experts, only truly committed lovers.” I also agree with her about marriage being a series of marriage stages. My husband and I will celebrate our 33rd anniversary this year. Our marriage today is not the same as our marriage during year 1 or year 10 or even year 20. Each stage has brought its share of ups and downs, joys and disappointments.

    I am enjoying the stage we’re at now, having circled back around to being a couple again, just the two of us. In some ways, we’re getting to know each other all over again because we’re not the same people we were all those years ago. One of the great parts is having been together while growing into who we are now. With both of our children officially grown, we’re having to redefine our roles in life. While still parents, of course, it’s no longer active parenting. I think this is where some couples sort of fall apart, being left with just each other at the end of the parenting stage and realizing they have nothing in common with each other anymore. What I’m enjoying most is finding those commonalities as we explore new things and ideas together now that we have the time away from parenting to do so.

    And yes, it’s wonderful having that thread to hold onto when it’s needed. :)

  7. Robin, you said all so well. I’m glad you realize you are now in the most exciting, satisfying part of marriage. You know the old saw about “the last of life, for which the first was made?” Well I’m not too sure about that, but it certainly relates to marriage if you let it. Enjoy it for all you can. From what I can tell about you, you will.

  8. Lazy Buddhist- That makes sense though- they’re fighting against the odds to be able to marry, and that’s always a romantic situation. What I think is kind of strange about that is it might not be so romantic if they meet their goals, and make it ordinary and mundane for same sex couples to get hitched. Then they’ll probably be on the same footing as hetero-sexual couples, with the same failure rate, since they won’t have that romantic imperative to beat the odds that has fueled lovers since the Montagues and the Capulets put passion’s fire into the taboo.

    mad– I couldn’t help but roll back on my heel a little that you would refer to the author here as a ‘good person’ in the self-same article where they admit to having been involved with married men. Not that I totally disagree with the possibility, it’s just very interesting timing.

    Bo– You, Robin, Anhinga, and Julie over at ‘Thinking About..’, also ybonesy. Those are five different women I know online who state- not all the time, but consistently through years of reading you that you all love and care for your spouses of many years, and enjoy good relationships. I wish I could see more people experience that lasting happiness in offline life, but it’s nonetheless a very hopeful thing to know that some people do stay in love- and bend instead of break through life’s changes.

    And I think a common element- not that I should even speculate, but this seems safe to say- You all married the right person.

    I think a lot of people, especially young people, make the mistake of wanting to be married, or needing a change in situation so badly, that they’ll compromise and hurry, and end up marrying the wrong one.

    Just a guess. I know for my part, while I have some regrets in my life, I’m extremely grateful I never married any of the people that I didn’t marry. Despite being engaged to a few.

    anhinga– Your comment ‘but there are no experts, only truly committed lovers’, put me in mind of one of my favorite episodes of a t.v. show, ever. It was… Scrubs. Yeah, but a really good one. I’m going to post that scene here.

    davidrochester– Yeah, that’s sorta where I go with it, too. People cause the problems, and also the successes.

    Robin– It makes sense that since people change, a marriage will also change over time. That thing about shared focus, and rediscovering each other, I get the sense from things you say that you honestly enjoy each other’s company, after 33 years.

    I love what can happen when two people enjoy each other so much. Time passes so fast, and there isn’t ever quite enough time to talk about all you wanted to talk about. That’s a pretty good sign, I think. If you’re gonna spend your life with someone, I guess it better be someone you can’t ever seem to get enough of.

    Thanks for your thoughs, all of you. I found your perspectives valuable, cus as I stated, I’ve always apprached this topic from an outside point of view.

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