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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Is Marriage the Answer or the Problem?


I just read a fabulous article written by an author who went through divorce after a very long marriage. I won't rehash all the points, as you can click on the link yourself, but it brings up some thoughts I've been having about marriage myself.

I'm divorcing my second husband and I'm 33. My first husband was right out of high school and 10 years older than me. (I was mature for my age.) He was the good boy, the stable, nice, ultimately boring roommate of a husband. We had divorce papers in hand shortly after our failed 1st anniversary celebration in San Fransisco. I wish him all the best and hope I haven't ruined him for some truly nice woman who will appreciate his many wonderful qualities.

My second husband came many years later after some college, some travel, and a long-term live-in boyfriend that had the talk of marriage but no follow-through. When I met husband #2, I really thought he was the one, damaged as he was. I was going to save him, fix him, find the diamond in the rough. Huh!

I ended up scratched and dirty and nowhere closer to the diamond eight years later than I was at the beginning, unless you count our three daughters. They are definitely diamonds. The best cut.

I also recently discovered that my college mentor who seemed to have the perfect egalitarian marriage, has been separated for a year. I knew them both, they were friends after I transferred to a different college, and I couldn't have been more shocked.

Many conversations with my best friend have been about the nature of love, relationships with the opposite sex and the role of marriage. In this article, she has some great quotes about how America is the most religious country, with the most pro-marriage voice, and yet has the highest divorce rate of any other country. We seem to be a living contradiction in our proclaimed values verses our actual lives. Hm.... Something is clearly not meshing.

I'm not sure if I'll ever get married again. Probably not. I'll likely engage in at least one long term commitment, if only to sort out my patterning and feelings about men in general. Sounds romantic, I know. But it will be a relationship with mutual values, spiritual practices and a path that is understood by us both. That's not to say it will be lacking in passion. I'm also hoping for some fabulous sex.

I do know I'm on a man-fast for at least 3 years, and that the most damaging thing I can do for my girls is parade a string of men in and out of their lives. Studies show they'll do fine in a single parent home, especially since I'm very conscious of how I'm raising them. Of diet, lifestyle, community, routine. I've created a good home for them, and it's getting better everyday.

I'm also very committed to the idea of the village influence, as I've mentioned in previous posts. They know many of the store owners in our small town and are always welcomed fondly. They are close to the principal of the charter school, and other adults in my spiritual community who are guides and mentors for them. They are surrounded by love and role models. People who meet different needs and serve different aspects of their growth, and mine.

The part in the article that I've copied here, takes a stab at looking at life from another perspective.


On marriage: Let’s call the whole thing off - TODAY: Relationships: "As far as the children are concerned, how about the tribal approach (a natural, according to both primate and human evolution)? Let children between the ages of 1 and 5 be raised in a household of mothers and their female kin. Let the men/husbands/boyfriends come in once or twice a week to build shelves, prepare that bouillabaisse, or provide sex."

Not a bad idea, and certainly anthropology, biology and history seem to support this as a healthier, more natural way of living. Americans and their ideals fall short of reality, and its' not working. Kids aren't happy or healthy, which isn't such a shock given the state of the families in which they are emerging. So, let's start thinking outside the box. What could it hurt? We're already pretty low on the poll as it is. Why are we so attached to outdated modes of marriage that are doing more harm than good.

OK, now go ahead and prepare the stones, and the tar and feathers, but while you do so at least consider my words, and the words of others. I don't expect you to agree with me, I just hope this gets you thinking. And talking. So, let it rip.

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