First thing today, Annie sent me a link to the marriage discussion on Jewcy. Annie and I periodically discuss marriage, being both of marriageable age if not of marriageable inclination and both having recently ended “marriage bound” relationships. Please note the quotation marks around “marriage bound.” They are not there for show, but to highlight that our relationships were labeled “marriage bound” by others, but not necessarily with our consent. Regarding the Jewcy discussion, Eliza Albert is now my hero.
As you all know, I went to a certain seminary. At this seminary, people pair up like animals on Noah’s
I am not the marrying type. I have removed myself from the trajectory (datingà boyfriend/girlfriendà engagedà married). Not to say that no one would want to marry me. In fact, this weekend I discussed my views on relationships with the Pretty Boy, who followed up his agreement with me on all points with a request for my hand in marriage. Luckily (for him), he was joking; I was not amused. I am relatively humorless about marriage because my humor has been exhausted by the endless barrage of “Marry her, already!” and “Look at all the great stuff you’ll get, if you two get married!” (actual quotes from actual people.)
The incessant questioning irks me. If you are not in a relationship, the question is to “When are you going to find a nice Jewish boy?” If you are in a relationship, the question becomes, “When are you guys going to make it official?” or the more insidious, “Are you next?” (I had no idea there was a line). To add insult to injury was the presumption that I remained unengaged because my boyfriend would not propose, not because I did not want to get married. The idea that I would choose, consciously, to say that I don’t want to marry (certainly not now) was unfathomable. Not Chosen posted a hilarious discussion that he had with the Manwhore about marriage, which underscores my aversion. Some woman will unwittingly marry the Manwhore one day and to what end? Babies? Health insurance? Perish the thought.
Nearly two months ago, the Failed Messiah wrote an excellent and incisive post called “Sex and the Single BT,” about struggling with his sexuality through the process of engagement and disengagement with the traditionally observant community. We’ll save my diatribe on sexual restriction for another time, but I call your attention to this post because of the discussion that follows. Bayit Bourne and Treifalicious both posted comments, in which they equate living together without the benefit of marriage as concubanage, to the benefit of the man and the detriment to the woman. Bayit Bourne argues that women should marry in our teens, as those are peak procreating years. The purpose of marriage is not life partnership, but procreation. Given that I have no intention to procreate (yes, again, I know that I am young and may change my mind, but I can only act on what I know about myself now, ok?), does this argument mean that I can feel free to give myself over to concubinage? That I can give away the milk? Ugh. I hate being described as a commodity, don’t you?
Lastly, I reviewed this issue with Maverick (aka, BRP), who elucidated her view on the issue for me:
I have no problem with marriage as a religious institution, unrelated to any legal civil commitment; however, marriage as a religious institution within the legal civil framework is a misplacement of values. If I want to spend the rest of my life with my best friend Maxine, she and I should be able to commit to one another, with the legal benefits that come along with that. We can then have a huge discussion about our lack of universal health care and the [mishegas] surrounding our tax system, and the fact that some of the issues regarding marriage as a legal institution would be null and void if our health care and tax system were correctly set up. As far as marriage itself, should someone wish to enter a "lifelong" commitment (in quotes because of the high divorce rate, suggesting that the oath of lifelong partner is not taken all that seriously) with their partner, more power to them, but I do not think it is mandatory in the "coming of age" process. And then we could talk about the pressure to have children: a whole different, and wholly linked, story, since so many members of our society think marriage is the union meant to bring the sinful act of sex into a slightly more holy union, with the express purpose of creating more children.
The purpose of this post is not to degrade the institution nor to suggest that it is not beneficial to many people, emotionally, socially, legally. Rather, I hope to question the unerring faith we have in this institution, the path we follow heedlessly. Before we presume that marriage is in store for us, let us question if we want to marry and why. Then, with open minds and full hearts, get that blood test, sign that ketubah, walk down that aisle.