Marriage, to me, is a spiritual journey. It carves at the edges of our soul, scraping and probing the deepest parts, at times, without mercy. Love and romance are cultivated and maintained, not effortless. Some moments are grotesque and sad, others are drug-like highs filled with admiration. We journey back to our childhood in marriage. We revisit old wounds, the ways in which we were loved and the ways in which we were neglected. We try and braid our beliefs together like wriggling snakes, wily and untamed. Patience becomes of utmost importance and our limits are stretched again and again.
We see things in our partner that we tried to escape and yet we chose it for ourselves. Why? It is in this spiritual journey of marriage where we learn how to grow. My wounds become the teachers. They are required for me to heal and my partner to grow. When he re-opens them, unintentionally, and I lash out, it is in that intense moment that we both realize the weight of things. We realize that I need to heal and he needs to grow. And together we dance through these moments, in fear, frustration and anger. We rip things wide open in order to sew them up for good. We must be aware of the wounds if we are going to heal. We must be aware of our partners wounds if we are going to rise to the occasion of helping them heal, by our growing.
Marriage is a challenge to selfishness. The more selfish the individual, the more corrupt the marriage. We find that the more we give to one another, the more we are filled up. I give to him, he gives to me, instead of looking out for our own interests we focus on each others and care for one another.
It’s about making sure our negative thoughts about our partner don’t outweigh the positive. Some of us are more prone to being critical of others, which I have lived in the past. This is not a beautiful lifestyle. It hurts to feel that way all the time. It hurts you and it hurts those around you. In marriage, criticalness can destroy the relationship through tiny pinpricks of degradation. It’s like a rock turned into sand by the ocean, it might take a long time to fall apart but the journey itself lacks in luster.
Why wouldn’t we attempt to have the most epic beautiful relationship we could muster? Why wouldn’t we dive into life partnership as a way to grow and thrive?
Is it hard? Yes. Is it daily effort? Yes. Is it badass? Yes. The things that require the most work yield the most epic results. Speaking from 9 years of experience, I have traveled through the wounds of my childhood with Johnny. I have being re-hurt and re-wounded, but because he is honest, true and constantly in pursuit of that which is best, we have both journeyed through it into a new territory. One that contains an exceptional amount of understanding for one another.
It is because of these things that we find ourselves with an obsession for growth and facilitating that for others. It is because of these things that we are considering writing a book/s. There are thousands of marriage and relationship books out there. But how many are written by young couples in pursuit of the epic? How many evoke healing from the get go instead of waiting till things build up. How many remind us that the decision to marry is a decision to step onto a land mine that may destroy us. But as the phoenix rises from the ashes or the fireweed grows after a wildfire to heal the land, so can the reckless, messy, epic, life changing, badass relationship between two humans that surpasses any relationship on earth. We need to start seeing our partnerships like this, instead of the “ball and chain”. No one wants to be imprisoned. Marriage should set you free. And not the you that you’ve created for society, but the you that you diminished and hid from view. The one that screams out freedom and dances with no shame. Your partner is going to hurt you but they can also be the one to set you free.
WHY MONOGAMOUS MARRIAGE?
Zombies are known for their robotic movements and lack of warmth and presence. They wander aimlessly in the night only concerned with getting what they need, a supple neck. They suck the life out of others and give nothing back. This is what has happened to a large majority of marriages. How do I know? Well, if the divorce rate doesn’t confirm it for you then just look around. You could use many arguments against the construct of marriage. One of them is that we were not biologically wired for it. In the Paleolithic era there was no ownership of women and no demands on sexual exclusivity. Women contributed a lot to the group and were inventors. Once the Neolithic era commence and farming/agriculture/land ownership were the new normal women began having more children in order to work the fields.
“As women spent more time pregnant and caring for their children, then they had less time for farming activities, and so by default men took over many of their tasks. Women no longer contributed as much to the economic structure of the household, and consequently their rights and status were lessened.”
“As culture evolved, the patriarchal society grew increasingly misogynistic. Ancient Greece played a large role in the increase of patriarchal practices. A primary democracy can be seen in ancient Greece called the polis. This gave men somewhat equal rights; compared to the aristocracy they had known before. As men gained equal rights, women lost many of theirs. The family had before been a biological unit, but now took the form of a political and economic unit. Wives and mothers became obligatory, and women who did not follow the traditional functions faced legal consequences. Women were the legal wards of either her father or husband and had no rights of their own; they could not inherit property. A woman during this time did not even have custody over her children as they belonged to her husband. Additionally, if a woman committed adultery, they would either be banished or executed where men, who would occasionally suffer penalties, had many legal sexual outlets. There were highly trained courtesans and male and female prostitutes (Radek). As men were able to find sexual freedom with these outlets, most women could not leave their homes without permission from a father or husband.”
As horrible as these glimpses into the past are, we have to remember that things change over time. Just because Marriage has a dark history and some of our ancestors didn’t practice it or practiced it in a different way, doesn’t mean monogamous marriage, here and now, has to be like marriage in the past. I’d like to argue that marriage can be an incredible life choice, if we know what we’re getting into. I’d like to think our society has progressed emotionally, but I know this is not true for everyone. We’re now dealing with the repercussions of being raised in nuclear families where we are disconnected from nature, skill building/sharing and are commonly emotionally wounded by our caretakers. We go off into the world alone, wounded and begin wounding others out of our pain. This may not make sense yet, but I see marriage as an opportunity to not only heal from those wounds, but also learn to thrive as an emotionally intelligent human being!
The Zombie Marriage is real, and maybe it stems from the lackluster/oppressive marriages of our ancestors or the unrealistic portrayal of romance in modern media. Either way, it doesn’t look good. You now have two wounded people coming together in the hope that the other person will save them, make them happy and romance them till the end of time. But they go about it in all the wrong ways. They allow their fears to lead them, their coping mechanisms to destroy and their obligations in life to crush them. They don’t have the tools to create an emotionally conscious marriage.
I remember as a child, analyzing married adults. I noticed that the men tended to be emotionally unavailable to their wives, distracted by TV, their 9-5 job and the after work beers. I remember women shuttling their children from soccer practice to piano lessons and playdates- they washed the dishes, folded the clothes, helped the kids with homework and met up with their girlfriends every once in awhile for wine or coffee. I rarely saw a crossover between husband and wife. I rarely saw any romance or date nights unless it was a special occasion like their anniversary once a year. They didn’t seem to be moving as one. Most married couples looked more like roommates to me. They seemed annoyed with one another, ignored each other, fought constantly and stayed together for the kids.
This was my viewpoint as a child. And it scared me. I didn’t want it. I’d rather be single for the rest of my life then be stuck in a Zombie Marriage, reliving the mundane, lackluster, discord every single day, I thought.
I wanted marriage to be epic. I wanted to explore what it would take to create that with someone.
I wanted to know what life-partnership looked like apart from child-rearing. I wanted to believe in it.
So where do you start?
Johnny and I are looking to connect with more couples and provide more support while gathering information for our book. If you are interested in being a part of these meet ups and are in the Portland, OR area please let us know!