I suppose it’s a little ironic that by the time I finally get around to having the courage and time to edit/publish a post about marriage, love, and divorce it happens to fall on Valentines Day. Happy Valentines Day.. let’s talk about love and heartache.
I want to begin by explaining that most of what I’m sharing here was personal writing never meant to be read by others. It was a way for me to let out and explore my thoughts and feelings on marriage.. where I think it works and where I think it doesn’t. Keep in mind this is not an anti or pro marriage perspective either. I think I lie somewhere in the middle even still, but it’s important to dive into some of the feelings we don’t talk about that come up surrounding this age old institute.
“You’re not married… what’s wrong with you?”
I think we need to start being more accepting of the idea that not every woman or man has the desire to be married. It’s not to say that they can’t be monogamous or commit to one person for the rest of their lives.. it’s just to say that they don’t need to pay the court system, file paperwork, drop $10k to $20k on a ceremony and reception, and go through a legal name change just to prove their love. When I’m asked if I’m married and I reply no, I get this look of pity followed by, “Oh honey.. you just haven’t met the right person yet.” I have to just laugh to myself, but nod back to them and say, yep that must be it! Their line of questioning usually then goes to if I want children, how old I am, and then upon finding out I’ll be turning 30 this year I’m told to “get on it” as if my uterus will just explode and never work again when the clock strikes midnight on my 30th birthday. We’re shaming people for living their lives differently or at least on a different timeline than what they deem as acceptable.
You may just think I’m writing from this perspective because I have been married and now divorced, but I shared this view on marriage long before anyone popped the question to me. I kind of loved the idea of just having this life partner that you were committed to and both of you CHOSE to be with one another each day. That seemed stronger than the feeling of “being stuck” due to legal binding paperwork or the stress and mess of divorce. I also never grew up wanting to be married. My friends had ideas for wedding dresses, what time of year they would have their ceremony, and what colors they liked and when I thought about what my future looked like it wasn’t me walking down the aisle to some mystery dream man.. it was just me walking hand in hand with a little blonde toddler. I’ve always wanted to be a mom, but I haven’t always had the desire to be a wife.
So why would I ever say yes to marriage then? To be quite honest, I was surprised that my ex-husband wanted to get married in the first place. He had been married once before and I just kind of assumed he would want to skip that whole process again. Maybe have a ceremony, but avoid the legalities of it all. We loved each other and when he popped the question it was just an automatic yes. Yes I want to build a life with you. Yes I want forever with you. At that moment marriage meant more of the connection and the committment.. not the ring and the last name change.
Who is Mrs. So and So?
I can only speak from my own perspective on this one as most of my married friends couldn’t wait to take their husband’s last name, while I on the other hand experienced a bit of an identity crisis. I had never been particularly attached to my maiden name.. Rumage. I was teased all through school for my Russian first name and German last name and couldn’t wait to change it to something new. While I was engaged we even said my new name outloud many times, but when it came time to actually change it I felt this panic and hesitation. It felt like I was being stripped of my identity. I had this string of thoughts.. Who is this Mrs. So and So? What does her life look like? Was Sasha Rumage just going to be this lost and forgotten person? Why do I have to give up my name? It’s MY name and has been my whole life. A last name doesn’t make a marriage anyway. I found myself clinging to my weird German last name for dear life while I contemplated this bizarre identity crisis. Perhaps it was just the realization that I had already lost my identity to the relationship. In the end it hurt him that I never fully changed it over, but I cannot apologize for wanting to hang onto myself.
Marriage should not be a test of endurance..
While I think that marriage and some of the ideas around it are amazing, ie; finding someone that you want to explore this Earth with, share both good and bad experiences, and love each other unconditionally.. I also think that it pressures people into remaining unhappy for much longer than they should. When my ex-husband and I were having trouble we were often told, “Hang in there! It’s just a rough patch and you’ll work through it.” While there is no doubt about having rough patches in any relationship, I think you know deep down when it’s no longer “a patch.” Something shifts either within you or between you, but because you’re legally married you’re asked to endure the pain and heartache longer. I listened to stories from couples that talked about how they were cheated on, verbally abused, or just flat out no longer in love and that their rough patch lasted for years, but “that’s just marriage.” To me it didn’t sound like they had reached a resolution and were now a stronger, more in love couple, it just sounded like they were exhausted and had invested so many years together fighting that they both gave up and just settled for mediocrity.
I couldn’t accept that. I could not imagine enduring YEARS of not being in love with someone or not being happy, just simply because I signed my name on a legal document. Each and every one of us has the right to choose our happiness, regardless of marital status. While I think it’s important to try and work through issues and not just throw in the towel when things get a little rough.. there comes a moment when you have to realize that the shift is permanent. You will transform what little love may be left into complete contempt and hatred for the person you once wanted forever with.
Ultimately that was the decision we both made. We had enough love and respect to end it before we hated each other. Sometimes I think saying goodbye while there was still love was the tougher choice. The easy route would have been to fight, name call, and ultimately despise each other, but that seemed like such a waste of the love and amazing experiences we shared. My experience with marriage and divorce helped me evolve into a stronger, more understanding, and compassionate person and partner, so as tough as it all was.. I’m very grateful to it as well.
Marriage can mean a lot of different things to different people, so I encourage you to come up with your OWN idea of what it means to you instead of it being defined by religious institutions, family, or society.
As always this is an open discussion and I love hearing perspectives from others, answering questions, and sharing stories, so I encourage you to comment below.
Wishing you all an abundance of love and happiness today!