Thursday, October 19, 2006

Marriage...In the Abstract

Now I have no problem with abstract entities such as numbers, goodness or God. In fact, as a professional philosopher I pretty much spend most of my time explaining to people why the first two exist and the last one doesn't. Moreover, some of my best friends are abstracts (like my psychic ex-girlfriend who broke up with me two months before we met). But when it comes to making practical life-changing decisions, mere abstracts have little place. For example, I've often heard single women talk about how much they want to get married. They don't have any specific candidate in mind, but they simply want to get married...in the abstract. There's just something about the concept of marriage, that makes them want to spend the rest of their lives trying to attain it (very much like the way I feel about vaginas). Of course, I should hasten to add, the desire to get married is certainly not limited to women. Why, King Solomon was a man and he pretty much holds the world record for number of marriages; I mean, the bloke had like seven hundred wives! (But can you imagine being the one girl he dated and didn't marry? Auch!)

But I digress. The point I'm making is that given the high incidence of divorce, and the equally high amount of unhappy marriages, the desire to just get married (in the abstract) seems, at best, ill-advised, and at worse, down right masochistic. A much more prudent approach, in my not so humble opinion, would be to focus on developing wholesome, fulfilling relationships. And if one of those relationships should lead to marriage, then so be it. But if not, then at least you won't be one of those sad blokes trapped in a union they wish they could get out of. But simply deciding that you want to get married (in the abstract), when you haven't even learned how to have a successful relationship is a bit like deciding to jump out of a plane and then worrying about whether your parachute works. In short, it's putting the cart before the horse, the target behind the gun, the regret-filled hangover before the night of tequila shots and the ill-advised phone call to your ex.

But I know what you're thinking: Get off the bloody soapbox Nubian. You're just another guy who would prefer not to commit and you're trying to justify your own fear of commitment by spouting a whole lot of high sounding BS. Well hello, professional philosopher here; spouting high sounding BS is what I do. And as for the allegations that I have commitment issues, I would have you know that I have joined a fear of intimacy support group (though I'm seriously considering dropping out because the members are getting way too close). And yes I admit that I happen to be a big fan of casual sex, especially since you don't have to wear a suite. But that's really all besides the point. The truth is that I someday hope to meet someone I can spend the rest of my life with, and if I did, marriage would seem like a good idea. But “getting married” is definitely not on my list of things to do just for the sake of doing it. Now, urinating off the top of the Eiffel tower and watching the golden droplets soar through the Parisian air until they reach their designated targets, that's something I would definitely do just for the sake of doing it (which perhaps explains why I'm not married and won't be for some time to come.)

22 comments:

mist1 said...

I turn my phone over to a responsible party when the tequila gets poured.

Dorelia S said...

Love it.....I'm glad I found my friend again! Now I remember why I thought you were so fascinating in DC....You speak your mind. Hope you're doing well!

Lizza said...

I'll make sure to steer clear of the Eiffel Tower if I ever find myself in Paris. And that isn't an abstract thought.

Nubian Nerd said...

Hi Dorelia,
I'm glad you found me too, though I'm not sure how you did. Yes, those were certainly some good times we had in DC...ah, Adams Morgan! So what have you been up to?

Abigail von Kilb said...

Here, here! In the last few years I have started encountering girls with such notions about matrimony. For the most part, it seems these ladies wish to "get" married, but they don't want to "be" married. I believe that is what playing pretend in preschool was all about, all the "get" without the "be", but perhaps they did not get to be the bride enough then?
In any event, your advice is sound. Marriage is a rather broad brushstroke term ... very few people make successful marraiges out of only traditional notions, with no concepts of how such a model would fit into their own lifestyle, or that of their partners. And yet, if a woman is focused solely on the ceremony and not on the aftermath, she will never have developed a working definition of marriage between herself and her partner, and will be doomed for difficulties if not abject failure.
Nick and I, being the philosophic creatures that we are, and having as complex a relationship as we do, hunkered down and wrote a contract. =)

Ines De Asis said...

Regarding Marraige: what's fun about it?

1) It seems strange to me that people want to get married to no one in particular because the ceremony and lifestyle appeals to them.

2) It seems strange to me that people want to get married to someone in particular...

-but the ceremony alone has this allure for women (and men now) that from a distance plays out like a movie while knee-deep-ness in organizing a wedding is a bad time.

-i dont know marraige from experience but I'm pretty certain divorce is the new black.

3) It doesn't seem strange to me to expect and invest a level of romance into planning life.

The easy answer (as provided by the Capitalist scum) is marraige: people are not encouraged to be creative about living their lives especially when it comes to the ingredient of romance. Its easier to follow a template.

to review:
Capitalist scum, marraige only if its spontaneous, planning is for squares, dreaming is fun, falling is better than maintaining (love).

L>T said...

I see the basic concept of marrige as "commitment".
As a "romantic notion?" well that idea is mostly spawned from Romance novels & Soap operas, two pretty shallow venues in my opinion. & won't hold water 5 years down the road.
My generation was still intrenched in the "it's the right thing to do" idea. though many of us bucked the system(my husband & i had 3 kids THEN we got married because...well, we had 3 kids)not very romantic, for sure. No big fancey wedding either.
I abhor big wedding ceremonys always have. The ones I've attended have been pretentious & shallow. That seems to be what big faney weddings are all about. In the U.S. anyway

Nubian Nerd said...

Wow, you guys are really waxing eloquent on this whole marriage issue. I suddenly feel like I've been thrust into a room full of Dr. Phils (but in a good way).

L>T said...

so...are you thinking about getting married or something???

Shashank Mohan said...

quite interesting topic .. which obviously can only be raised by a nerd ..

my take on this issue is this .. the cost of getting out of marriage has been constantly going down (the social stigma attached to a divorcee)... the failure rate of "uncommited" relationships is much higher than "commited" (aka marriage) relationships .. there are tonnes of people just looking for vaginas like you :)) .. so, doesn't it make perfect "economic" sense to "just get married"?

Nubian Nerd said...

L>T,
I almost choked on my coffee when I read that one! Did you miss the part of my post between (oh, let's say) the first and last sentences? {Sigh} But since you're being so persistent, perhaps I will consider marrying your daughter. (No promises though.)

Nubian Nerd said...

Shashank mohan,
Very interesting analysis. I'm not sure the factors you listed are the driving motivation behind those who desire to be married (in the abstract). For such individuals it seems not so much about having a “committed” relationship as it is about fulfilling a certain social expectation. Alas, not everyone takes the time to think things through as you have.

BTW, if an uncommitted relationship ends, is that necessarily a failure? Isn't being temporary the point of having an “uncommitted”relationship in the first place? Or are you using “uncommitted” as a synonym for unmarried? (I assume it is possible to be committed and not married.) And is mere longevity the basis for evaluating the success of a relationship? Is a long relationship in which the two people are miserable more “successful” than a short one in which both parties involved have learned, grown and been enriched by their time together? Perhaps as a society we need to re-evaluate our social evaluations.

Nerd? I resemble that remark!

L>T said...

You know that line from Shakespear?

"The lady doth protest too much, methinks?" here

Shashank Mohan said...

thanks nerd for the appreciation...

I am a firm believer that basic human wants and ways of doing things haven't changed much ... in case of relationships... even when we have come in an age where people believe that they are learning a lot from each relationship they have, the fact remains that to know a person you need to devote time ... we meet a lot of people and start to like or dislike them for some petty qualities (smile, aggessiveness etc) ... but you know a person only when you have spent a considrable amount of time with him/her ... then only you can appreciate the person in a wholesome manner ... living togther, spending together good-bad times, supporting each other... and that wholesome experience is what humans have seeked always ... but today no one wants to spend that amount of time on anybody ... today we seek "heros" who are good all the times ... the reasons for it are varied but the fact remains that people still want that wholesomeness in their relationships ... and thats why they seek marriage ... the only known socially accepted institution which provided this experience ... i do not deny that there maybe other ways to seek it but they are either unknown or very hard to follow (for example "uncommitted" relations) for average people

I am not sure if i am successful in presenting my views coherently to you

Nubian Nerd said...

Mohan,
I think your views are both insightful and wonderfully expressed. I still question whether a relationship must be life-long to be deep and meaningful. I've found that I've been able to bond with different people at different stages of my life...and I think that as people grow, they can sometimes grow apart (and I think this could actually be a healthy thing).

Also, what about same-sex couples for whom marriage is simply not an option (at least in most parts of the globe). Where would they fit in your interpersonal schemata?

K said...

i am glad that i don't feel so awkward anymore about not diggin' the whole marriage thing. thanks for the blurb!

Nubian Nerd said...

You're quite welcome K. Here at MV 4.0, its not about cheap entertainment. Its about edification. Inspiring you to be a better man is what I'm all about!

Sexytrinilady said...

Enlightening and funny. I would say that Christianity is some what responsible for the type of abstract thinking about marriage, (along with some other fuzzy thinking). Young people are thought that they need a hussy or wifey to feel complete, so we in turn have a lot of young people just wanting to be part of the concept of being marriage when in truth they aren’t ready for even the commitment needed for basic neutral relationships.

cash said...

I want to be a professional philosopher. I could be all Husserl this and Sartre that. And marriage? Fuggedaboutit.

Let me know if you get any openings.

Nubian Nerd said...

Hi Sexytrini,
You're officially the first Trinidadian to leave a comment on my blog. Now if I could just get a Tobagonian to leave a comment, I would have posts from the two most beautiful islands on earth (only objectively speaking of course).

Nubian Nerd said...

Cash,
Personally, I'll be happy to have you on board. But I should warn you though, philosophers tend to resent scientist. Something about taking away the cultural hegemony we had for centuries and your “look-my-ideas-actually-have-real-life-practical-implications” attitude.

Ines de Asis said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.