The marriage gap

Why is it that some people dream of getting married but others are happy never getting married? Is it fear of commitment? Wanting to live in the present? Or do some people think about marriage so much that it becomes unhealthy?

It’s a question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately. I’m someone who’s never really seen himself getting married. It’s not that I’m afraid of marriage; if I met the right person, I think I’d be able to make a commitment. Rather it’s that I don’t want to concern myself with something that’s outside of my control. I’ve never felt like I define myself by who I’m with, so if I meet someone, that’s great, but I’m happy being by myself as well.

A lot of people, though, see marriage as this focus that gives their lives meaning and it’s that kind of obsession that turns me off marriage. They plan it out years in advance and everything has to be perfect… I have a hard time swallowing that. Marriage needs work; nothing is ever just perfect because you love someone, but many people expect it to be. When I look at the divorce rate I can’t help but think that this idea of marriage plays a large part in it, people giving up because when everything isn’t perfect they think that the relationship wasn’t “meant to be”.

I guess I’ve been thinking about this because an old school friend contacted me a few months ago. I hadn’t heard from her for about six years and it was great catching up again, but one of the things she told me was that she’s engaged. I almost choked! Not in a bad way; I’m really happy for her. It’s just that in my mind I still see her as the fourteen year old girl I used to know and it feels strange to imagine her about to get married. She’s a few months younger than I am as well, so she was only 21 or 22 when she got engaged. But I guess when you know it’s right, it just is.

She’s actually the second school friend who’s been engaged now; another got married two years ago and seems very happy. I haven’t spoken to either of them much since, though… I’d like to but it feels strange. Part of it is the difference between how I remember them and who they are now, but there’s also a different dynamic when someone becomes engaged or married and it can be hard to overcome. That’s part of the problem here.

Some call it the marriage gap and it describes the way a friendship can change once someone is married or part of a long-term relationship. Friends who used to meet for drinks every week feel put out when their married friend starts to cancel; someone who used to think nothing of taking off for a weekend away suddenly has other commitments to think about first. The married friend feels hurt that his/her single friends don’t show more interest in their partner and becomes annoyed by the money they spend frivolously. Over time it brings added pressure to the friendship and it either changes or falls apart.

I didn’t use to believe in the marriage gap but recently I’ve changed my mind. There was a couple I met at my writing group who seemed to speak their own language and it felt like everything they were talking about went over my head. Other people felt the same way and we just weren’t on the same wavelength; it was the first time I’d really understood why it can drive people nuts. It was a little like what it felt like talking to my friends again; not that we didn’t have anything in common, but so much had changed… we were coming from different directions and just because we were compatible once didn’t mean we were now.

In the end I think that’s why once people get married they start to form their own circles, and why singles go out in their own groups. It’s natural; the common ground has shifted and it’s easier to share how you feel with others who understand… even if they’re not the same friends you’ve had for most of your life. In a way that’s sad because if you care about someone enough, you should be able to get past any differences. And many friends do. But for whatever reason the marriage gap is still quite common.

I know part of it for singles is that they often feel like they’re being pressured into getting married themselves. A few members of my extended family seem sorry for me when I say I’m not seeing someone… or seem worried. Thankfully they haven’t tried to set me up with someone (yet!) but they don’t seem to get that I’m happy by myself. Is it so strange to think that I’d enjoy my own company, that I’d rather be alone than with someone who doesn’t value me for who I am? And likewise married people feel hurt that their old friends don’t show more interest in their new lives, which is something I can understand as well. Marriage is the ultimate commitment; they’ve made a huge change in their lives and to not even try to understand that and expect them to be the same isn’t being much of a friend.

To be honest, though, I think the marriage gap is overrated. What it really represents is a breakdown in communication; neither friend expresses how they feel properly, and so they keep growing apart. But it also shows that we’re not aware of how relationships evolve over time. No friendship remains the same; it changes as our interests change, as we move into different periods of our lives. We shouldn’t expect it to remain the same, but a lot of people do. And that’s the problem. We think our friendships should be perfect (like our marriages) and last a lifetime, but you maintain any relationship by redefining it, by taking an interest in the person… if you don’t do that, the friendship won’t survive. And sometimes that’s not a bad thing. Sometimes it’s better to let go of a friendship than to ruin all of the memories you shared.

For the most part I try to do that. Before meeting that couple at the group, I hadn’t noticed the marriage gap all that much and I get on well with most of the family friends I know who are married. And I like taking an interest in people as well, so finding common ground isn’t too difficult… that’s why I think that generally the marriage gap isn’t something that can’t be overcome, just something you have to work at. If I had a chance to talk to my friends again, I’d love to. I’d love to know how they’re getting on and see if there was a chance to get to know them again. I’m not expecting it, but who knows? I didn’t expect to hear from them the first time, so I’ll never say never. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Anyway, it’s just been on my mind lately. I wonder what you think? Is there a marriage gap? Have you ever felt out of place in a social group? Is one group more responsible than the other? I’d be interested to know what you think.

Be My Baby

It sucks being single on Valentine’s Day. There’s just something about being out and seeing everyone together that feels very strange. Normally I’m not someone who gets that carried away with Valentine’s Day, particularly with the commercialism, but I like the sentiment.

Whenever I think of Valentine’s Day, I start thinking of Be My Baby by The Ronettes. I grew up with a lot of 60’s music around the house, so I must have picked it up at some stage. It’s one of my favourite songs and so what better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than to post the video? It’s a great video; you can almost see the lip-synching! Some things never change.

I was remembering my first Valentine card earlier. It would have been about 15 years ago now and was from one of my school friends. She left it in our letterbox and I can’t remember what it looked like but she made it herself and it was very sweet. We’re still friends now, after almost 20 years.

I remember that Valentine because it represents what I like most about Valentine’s Day; the innocence of love. One thing which does bug me about Valentine’s Day, though, is how a lot of people see it as a gesture, using that one day to express their feelings. It shouldn’t be just that one day; we should always want to be honest with each other… in the end it’s better to say too much than to say nothing at all.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Hope you have a good one. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Obsessions and habits

Do you have a favourite love song? Perhaps the song that was playing the first time you fell in love, or a song that means something special to you and your partner? For me I’d have to say Be My Baby by The Ronettes. Not for any particular reason; I’ve just always liked the song. Whenever I have a crush, that song starts playing in my head.

I’ve asked a few people about their favourites before and the most common answer has been Every Breath You Take by The Police. Apparently that’s a common interpretation of the song, but it always makes me cringe. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great song; I love Sting and The Police. But it’s not a love song. It’s a song about obsession and the lyrics are actually quite sinister.

Every breath you take/every move you make
Every bond you break/every step you take
I’ll be watching you

Every single day/every word you say
Every game you play/every night you stay
I’ll be watching you

Sting wrote it during the collapse of his marriage and said he was thinking about Big Brother and control as much as anything else. I’m not sure why so many people think it’s a love song but apparently it’s still very popular at weddings. That just seems creepy; is a song like that really one we’d want to use to mark a union? It’s no wonder the divorce rate is so high.

It’s funny, though, because I’ve been thinking about that song a lot lately. When I was putting together my song list, Every Breath You Take just missed the cut. And recently I’ve been obsessing over things more than usual, so naturally started thinking about the song again. Mostly it’s little things but I can’t get them out of my head; a couple of things I said which were taken the wrong way; memories from years ago that keep popping up; paragraphs I keep rewriting because they’re still not right… it’s annoying and not like me to obsess over them like that.

I’m retraining myself to stop it but in a strange way it’s actually been quite useful. It’s made me look at myself in a different way, ask myself why I’m thinking those things… something I wouldn’t have done before. What it’s made me wonder as well is, is obsession actually such a bad thing? We’re told that an obsession is irrational, an unhealthy preoccupation with something or someone. It can be, but does that mean all obsessions are bad? I tend to think that sometimes focusing on a goal is the only way you can achieve it; like an athlete training for the Olympics, if it didn’t become their focus, would they have the drive to succeed?

Perhaps obsession is a relative thing. Let’s say someone wakes up at the same time, has the same breakfast, follows the same route to work each day. Does that make him obsessive and stubborn because he never changes his routine? Or does it make him sensible, because he knows what he needs to be effective? What if someone always checks the lights before they go outside, even when they know they’re off; if they do that a thousand times but it stops a fire once, does that make them obsessive? Or is it a precautionary habit?

I’ve often thought that there’s a thin line between an obsession and a habit and really they’re much the same. A habit can become just as much of an obsession over time. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re bad either. If checking the lights repeatedly gives you peace of mind, is that so bad? To me a habit or an obsession can serve a purpose – it’s when they begin to interfere in our lives that they become unhealthy. That’s when we need help.

Whether I’m that obsessive myself, I don’t know. I do keep to a routine; I try to eat at certain times, I’m usually online at the same times, and I write at night. But then I’m not afraid to break the cycle either… so maybe I am a little obsessive, but you probably need to be if you’re creative. How else can you stay motivated through the writer’s block?

I wonder what you think. Do you obsess over things? Is obsession necessarily bad? Can it be a good thing? I’d be interested to see what you think. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Would you want to know?

Here’s a question for you. Imagine you’ve spent years trying to find the love of your life; you’ve dated and fallen in and out of love, but never found that special someone. Then finally you meet someone and you just click; it’s not something you can explain, you just feel an immediate attraction and it’s like you’ve known them all of your life. Soon you know it’s love and you can’t imagine being apart. You get married and start planning to spend the rest of your lives together… and then you discover that you are brother and sister.

That’s the story which has been coming out of Britain over the last few days. It’s so sad and what makes it even sadder is that they’re twins, which is why their connection was so strong. Their birth was normal (not in-vitro) and they were adopted by separate parents and never told that they had a twin. It wasn’t until after they were married that they discovered the truth. Now their marriage has been annulled and it’s sparked debate over whether children should have more access to the identity of their birth parents.

Supposedly this is very rare and you’d hope it is given all of the circumstances that would have to occur, but here’s my question. Imagine you’re in their position, a day before you’re about to hear the truth… would you want to know? If someone offered you the chance to know the truth but you knew it would destroy everything, would you still want to know?

I’ve been wondering about this since I heard the story, and I would. I believe it’s always better to know the truth, even if it’s incredibly painful. But I’ve read a few blogs which haven’t been as sure and honestly I can understand that too. It’s an incestuous relationship and if you knew you’d be repulsed, but for several years they (and you’d hope their families) thought they were a normal couple. It certainly would have been “easier” for them to go on in ignorance, if not “right”.

They must be living in their own kind of hell. To have formed that connection, then suddenly have it broken without the possibility of it being restored… I find that almost unimaginable. Not to mention it’d be impossible to see each other as brother and sister, so they’d actually be losing two relationships… the only good thing is that they didn’t have children. There was a case in Germany where a man served a two-year prison sentence after fathering four children with his sister; they’d been separated at birth.

It’s made me wonder about something else as well, though. Here I’d rather know, but what if I could find out the day I was going to die – is that something I’d want to know? Honestly, I’m not sure… a large part of me says yes; if I knew, I’d have time to say goodbye, time to live my life. But I think as well that I’d be more afraid of death if I knew; I’d know what I was losing, feel time slipping by… I’d rather value each day as it comes and I can only do that by not knowing… just as I’d rather not know if I’m supposed to meet someone, so I can value the relationships on the way.

If there’s one thing I want to take away from this story, it’s that. It’s so easy to take everything we have for granted; our homes, relationships, health… I’d hope something like this wouldn’t happen, but still, one day we might find it all gone. Better to cherish what we have now than have regrets later.

What about you? What would you do? Is there anything you’d rather not know? I’d be interested to find out. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The Garden's End

Image from Stock.Xchang

The Garden’s End
CJ Levinson

Unlock the chains around your heart
Let me find a way inside
Let me see where your thoughts begin
And where your hopes and dreams die
Everything you wanted means nothing now
No one noticed you but me
I’ll dream of you ยท tonight

If I could raise the dead with words
And see through your lonely eyes
Find you again at the garden’s end
Would you still occupy my mind?
Cast out from everything you know
There is nowhere you’d rather be
I’ll weep for you ยท tonight

Once I dreamt of another world
Of the sun and moon and stars
Walking beside you, I was a better man
But all dreams fade with time
And this place could never have been our home

Do you lie awake next to him
Surrounded by your sorrows in the night?
No one wanted this after so many years
But your heart knows it’s the only way
It’s too late to start again
And too hard to say goodbye

If I could hold you now
Look upon your face
There’s so much I would say
My heart goes with you ยท tonight

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