Millennial Perspectives on Marriage, Along with My Thoughts on “I Do”

Following the aftermath of my *happily* broken engagement, I decided to take some time to ask myself if I think I would ever be ready to say “I do.” I’m young, I’m 22 years old and I’m attending school. Perhaps now isn’t the time, but I’m certain that in the future I would be able to.

Another interrogating question flickered and hung over my head…for how long would I commit to staying married if I did get married?

Knowing myself, I wouldn’t get married for status, for title, or for pecuniary reasons. I personally would rather marry someone highly successful and even more highly motivated whom I love, someone who I know is well-established and healthy in all aspects. Someone I know would effectively communicate with me through everything, someone academically intelligent and emotionally intelligent who would understand me and love me for who I am. Because I know that love isn’t how much shit you can take from your partner, it’s about growing together. I know there’s hope for that kind of marriage to exist and to last.

But then I shifted my thinking a little when I went to my friend Cupcakke’s house (I can’t think of a name so I’m naming her after the rapper.) She was interested in hearing why I dumped my ex, and I told her that I couldn’t be with anyone as insecure as he was, and that yes, we’d met on Tinder. I felt Cupcakke’s unwavering disapprobation as she stared at me, coughed, and then bluntly stated, “I feel like if you’re on an app with an expectation to date it will never work out.” It was a fair statement. At the time I concurred with her, but now that I think about it, there really is no telling how a relationship will occur or last, no matter how you meet. You can go into any situation, whether it’s in real life or in digital reality with certain expectations and have an entirely different relationship spring from it. And it can happen as quickly as it wants to, at some point it’s out of your control. So having the expectation to date wouldn’t necessarily ruin all chances of you securing a relationship, but it’s better to not rely too much on that expectation. Being open is good.

When Cupcakke drove me back home, she was on her phone and saw a link to an article about a couple celebrating 46 years of marriage. “OH MY GOD FORTY SIX YEARS?????” she shrieked. “Can you IMAGINE sitting across the SAME PERSON for FORTY SIX years…I couldn’t. I couldn’t, ew ew ew. I’d rather have ten divorces than be married to the same fucking person for 46 years, bye.”

I was cracking up, it was honestly the funniest shit I’d heard all night. But it’s because it’s true about how a lot of millennials think. In a Time article titled “The Beta Marriage: How Millennials Approach ‘I Do,’ the U.S. has the highest divorce rate in the Western world. There was a study done by trend researchers where 1,000 people were asked about their attitudes toward marriage.

“Buried in the data was the revelation that almost half of millennials (43%, and higher among the youngest subset) said they would support a marriage model that involved a two-year trial — at which point the union could be either formalized or dissolved, no divorce or paperwork required. Thirty-three percent said they’d be open to trying what researchers dubbed the “real estate” approach — marriage licenses granted on a five-, seven-, 10- or 30-year ARM, after which the terms must be renegotiated. And 21% said they’d give the “presidential” method a try, whereby marriage vows last for four years but after eight you can elect to choose a new partner.” (Bennett, Time)

“This is a generation that is used to this idea that everything is in beta, that life is a work in progress, so the idea of a beta marriage makes sense,” the study’s author, Melissa Lavigne-Delville, said. “It’s not that they’re entirely noncommittal, it’s just that they’re nimble and open to change.”

The concept of serial monogamy in relationships has been discussed and advocated as well, which means having a chain of monogamous relationships that last up to 4 years. This concept springboards from the idea that monogamy is unsuitable for humans. It can be “a social expectation, but not a biological reality.” While it may be true for the majority of us as Gen X and Gen Y respondents, this still does not entail that marriage can be discarded as a whole, or that the concept of long-term monogamy is defunct. People in contemporary society are typically well-informed because of our increasing accessibility to information via Internet and technology. As well-informed people, we want to make the most precise, and least consequential decision we can make for the sake of maintaining our peace and sanity. Ultimately, we try to be wise so we can avoid failure.

Marriages are about enduring those failures, though. Marriages are made up of imperfect humans. I’m not saying that there aren’t reasons for marriage to end. We must be careful decision makers, for sure. But we must also be even more attuned in our decision making to not forsake the needs of the relationship because of that fear of weakness or failure. Otherwise that renders us more vulnerable to viewing the idea of commitment as a bad thing. It makes us internally afraid of becoming a victim to the commitment we’re so anxious to bind. As a result, we start mistrusting each other, even if it is for no reason at all. We employing toxic dynamics to either keep each other in place during the relationship, or we don’t know how to signal to the other person that we want out. It becomes a game where one person will always strive rather anxiously to be the winner. And yet, for the public you mask your agony of having to sit with this cunt at dinner tonight.

It’s interesting to note that the Western view of marriage is so disparate from the Eastern view. In the West, you marry the person you love. In the East, you love the person you marry. For example, my friend Aleena knows a girl who recently got married after two months of knowing the guy. Her parents set it up for her. She doesn’t speak much about it, but she says she’s fine. Like most people do when they marry. And yet more people in the West divorce because just as they have the freedom to enter the marriage, they have the freedom to exit the marriage when they feel as though the relationship has expired and they can move onto better things for themselves. Do you. People across the globe are stuck in marriages for the sake of their children.

My personal belief is that marriage is about celebrating a healthy human relationship. Even if it’s not between you and your spouse. Even if it’s between you and your child, or even if it’s just you. It’s not about if you have an expectation, it’s about what your expectations are and how heavily they benefit the whole instead of the half. It’s scary opening yourself up to someone, no doubt. I know that myself from being caught in a chain of abusive and toxic relationships at one point. But liberating myself allowed me to realize which of my values I want to see reflected in another human with even better intentions than I do, and with an even better understanding of who we each are and what is best for both of us to succeed in being a unit.

It takes more individual soul searching to do that.

You need to understand who you are first, and accept yourself entirely. That includes understanding your fears and your insecurities. You don’t have to get over them or hide them, you need to acknowledge them. And then you need to find someone who can understand and accept them too while you take the time to understand the other person and eventually accept them for who they are. It honestly may take years to do that, and you may find yourself wondering what the hell you’re doing. Sometimes it will be a game, but you need to remember not to let that override your communication with the other person because deep down you both may want to connect. And sometimes your head is stuck on one person when you know your heart is disengaged and craves something else.

As someone who has been a “serial monogamist” at one point (I think many of us have), I found out that I was looking to fill a void more than anything. That, and I was in denial about what I wanted. We take pieces of people with us wherever we go, until we find someone else who makes us feel more whole again. But then we empty the cup after it overflows and move on. We behave in ways that are ludicrous and aleatory. Life is about progress, and progress fluctuates. But as cliche as it is, it’s about following your heart and your own intentions to find peace with another soul. If Cupcakke isn’t vomiting enough while reading this already, then she will when I say that I can see myself growing forty-six years old with someone I love or longer because I don’t have any pieces I want to take away from someone. I want to give and receive.

To me, marriage isn’t about enslaving yourself. It’s not supposed to be a trap, especially in this day and age.  The ideology from ancient times to now has shifted dramatically. No longer are we nearly as concerned about marrying for the options of holding a title in society and for wealth, although our focus is undeniably geared toward extrinsic values and materialism. However, whether being a self-entitled narcissist or an open-minded spirit seekers, we can each take away that we have our own license to our own liberty and our own individuality. We can’t be trapped so we’re reliant on ourselves because that is how we feel free. To me, marriage should be about unbridled freedom to be whoever you want and do whatever you want together, within reason. Find someone who makes you feel free, but who also respects your boundaries. Be open to trusting in your relationships before you move to marriage. If you can sustain a relationships by being open with one another, then a marriage will be more likely to be sustainable. Sure, you don’t need a piece of paper to prove your love, but marriage isn’t about proving anything to anyone. It’s about being conscious and conscientious. You are sharing a state of total consciousness with another human being and you’re bare in every way. You’re not carrying pieces of each other, you’re both part of a balance. You need to remember where you started, and remember where you’re going. Emily Dickinson once said, “Love is immortality,” and to make that love immortal, you have to make yourselves ready to bear such a divine thing. Choose your words as wisely as you choose your actions. Don’t tear each other down, compromise. AND DO NOT WASTE EACH OTHER’S TIME, OKAY LISTEN TO EACH OTHER, I’M REALLY TELLING YOU THIS FOR A REASON. STOP WASTING MY DAMN TIME. IT’S 2017 AND DONALD TRUMP IS OUR PRESIDENT MOTHERFUCKER YOU BETTER MAKE THESE YEARS OF THIS WHOLE ASS M-A-R-R-I-A-G-E COUNT BEFORE I LEAVE YOUR STUPID ASS.

 

2 thoughts on “Millennial Perspectives on Marriage, Along with My Thoughts on “I Do”

  1. You really do need to fully understand yourself and love yourself, before you love someone else. This view on marriage for millennial’s is absolutely true. For me, I tend to prefer the traditional way of meeting and marriage, but it’s interesting to see how marriage/commitment differs from country to country.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment! I agree, it’s definitely interesting to see the different views on marriage and commitment in alternate geographic locations. Truly shapes our thinking in various ways.

      Like

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