Rethinking Marriage and Commitment

Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree and Rising.

To my surprise, I’m finding myself rethinking my views on marriage and what it really means from an emotional and legal standpoint. It shouldn’t be a surprise, though. I knew last fall that 2007 would have a heavy focus for me on questioning my values, particular in regard to the ethics of relating, monogamy, commitment, marriage. At the time, I couldn’t imagine that it would be such a focus, but it is and has been for the first entire three months of this year.

Since somewhere in my early teens or before, I’ve believed in marriage as something between two people, not between two people and their government, but then, I also thought of “marriage” as synonymous with “commitment.” I’ve never believed in being “licensed” to marry, even though our society doesn’t make it necessarily easy, what with all the tax laws, medical insurance, and other legalities that pressure a couple to make their commitment “official.” I’ve even conducted wedding rituals that weren’t legally binding, but sure as hell were spiritually.

I could see myself in a long-term committed relationship that isn’t licensed. Definitely. By long-term, I mean decades, not months. I think the high concept is: I want a good relationship that lasts forever, LOL. I could see, potentially, deciding together to bring someone else or at least new experiences into our relationship, but I’m not quite ready to go there yet. At this point, I won’t say it’s impossible. The last few weeks have given me a different understanding of old patterns and what might one day be more suitable for me.

This year, the idea of redefining the ethics of relating is getting my attention in a big way, forcing me to look at the issues I was raised with and seeing if they still apply to my life or if there’s a different way I should be considering now. Some things are so deeply entrenched, but that doesn’t mean they work.

I’ve already had my share this year of married men wanting to date me (for lack of a cruder word). Some actually looking for long-term uncommitted relationships. I’ve said no to all of them. Emphatically. I’m not interested in an emotionally unavailable guy who wants a life with someone else (who “doesn’t understand”) but wants me to be there whenever he can slip away. Having a merely sexual relationship doesn’t interest me. I want someone who’s available emotionally without the uninterested wife at home who fulfills all his needs except the physical ones.

Bah on that!

And I have no time whatsoever for guys who whine about how they’re in a miserable marriage but divorce would cost them their life savings. I don’t believe in pity-sex. Besides, if I had the courage to leave a miserable situation, I don’t want to hear whining from them.

Yet something is happening to make me rethink my ethics. No, I’m not interested in married men looking for a quickie—just as I’m not interested in guys who already have girlfriends, fiancées, or are “in a relationship”—and it’s not even a situation I’m in, but lifestyles are changing and I’m getting a firm message to pay attention.Life Coaching Tips

I’ve made friends with a woman I work with. She’s an Aquarius (rare in my job!) so we’re always tossing ideas at each other in a bureaucracy where the emphasis is not on creativity. We’ve worked together on several projects but now we’re working as equals rather than with me in a mentor position. I’ve known her for years and have liked her since the beginning, possibly because scandal always seems to follow her because she doesn’t behave as expected. The things going on in her life—she’s very open about it though most people prefer the scandal to asking her why—are the best example of several such situations that have come into my life recently through my colleagues.

She and her husband split up many years ago. He’s moved on to a new live-in girlfriend and a happy life almost completely separate from hers. She now has a man in her life who adores her and whom she adores. Yet, she’s still married. After years of divorce court, they finally turned their marriage into a business arrangement, very much for his benefit but, ironically, financially better for her in the long-run than divorce. She pays for everything, including two houses, all child-related expenses, etc, and provides 90% of the parenting for her children. As he gets on his feet financially and their children get older, their agreement will be re-negotiated and eventually terminated. Meanwhile, they’re both happy with the current arrangement and have everything they want in their separate relationships with someone else.

I haven’t worked through all my feelings on this subject, but it seems where I define it for myself is not in where the legalities are but in where the hearts are.