Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Is marriage practical?

Believe it or not, this is what we all look like inside,
medical science be damned.
i would like to have your take on this. is it better for two people in a relationship to see each other exclusively until they live out their love for one another, or is it more healthy to have an open relationship, since nowadays most people are non-monogamous?

First, the statistics on marriage and divorce are often misrepresented and inflated to make the divorce rate seem higher than it is. The 50% or more than 50% rate refers to the current marriage to current divorce ratio, meaning, the total number of people getting divorced this year (including marriage that started 40 or 50 years ago) to the number of people getting married. It doesn't measure how likely a marriage starting today will last. If you look at the total number of people who were ever married, the number is closer to 41%. It's still hard to make predictions about how a marriage that begins today will turn out. Things are changing very quickly these days for lots of reasons. There're new ideas about marriage, about identity, and about creating healthy relationships, especially from Eastern psychology, that continue to change the marriage landscape. This blog is a testament to that shift.

A naive optimist like me would tell you not to be afraid of statistics but to seek to understand them so you can avoid bad decisions. There are lots of reasons people choose to get divorced. Many, I'm sure, are simply mismatched: different priorities, different levels of depth, and very different needs. Others, I suspect, are divorcing because they're unhappy by themselves, independent on their relationship. They don't know how to be themselves, to be happy, to protect their authenticity, to navigate through their own pain, anxiety, and depression when it eventually rears itself--to simply be happy without needing to do anything or get anything else. They turn their frustration outward, blame their partners, and think "if I had someone else, this emptiness would go away." They end up feeling more and more alone and then decide to leave. They don't understand what's happening.

At its root that problem is, to put it very simply, not having an open heart. (Don't roll your eyes at me! Just hear me out.) An open heart just means that you admit what's happening inside you and open up to the pain. That pain takes the form of frustration, confusion, sadness, fear, and desperation for progress and solutions. When you see that in yourself, plainly, simply, and quietly, your heart naturally begins to open. It might hurt, but that kind of soft attention is actually healing taking place. It's the source of real confidence and real power. It helps you negotiate your fears and make heart-felt decisions that are always directed toward peace and beauty. It will guide you towards the right decisions, whether in love, career, or -- well that's kinda it, isn't it? :)

Here is what I say to you. Open relationships--I could never do this and I doubt someone sensitive could do it either. It sounds like a fucking meta-Rubik's cube. (I don't even know what that means, but I imagine it's hard to solve, like this.) There are things in this world that are worth fighting for. Love, authenticity, and peace of mind are worth it, and they all begin when you learn how to be honest about what's happening inside you.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

how about relationships prior to marriage? does your advice above apply to them as well?

Edahn said...

You mean regarding having an open relationship? Not necessarily.

Anonymous said...

but these relationships are PRIOR to marriage. your advice sounds a bit idealistic.

Edahn said...

Let me rephrase. I don't believe open relationships are practical. I think healthy relationships are possible, and commitment is possible too. Thus far, we're talking about marriage. If you meet someone special with marriage potential, I would put them in the marriage category and advise the same.

When it comes to dating and learning and exploring, I think open relationships are okay to experiment with because there's less on the line. In some cases, I'd even encourage people to have an open relationship if they need it to take the pressure off their primary relationship, if the primary relationship is about to burst.

Anonymous said...

what do you mean 'healthy relationships are possible'. meaning, healthy open relationships?
and even in a marriage, and i would think especially in a marriage, a couple experiences more ups and downs and would it then make sense to have an open relationship. and how would one define 'open' and to what extent. if it's open, more so in a marriage, should or shouldn't the couples be honest about who they're with or should they share everything about what they do to spare each ohter the hurt resulting from lies? if the couples, (whetehr married or not) want to stay together, then i would think they must share wiht each other that openness.

Edahn said...

No, I meant that I believe healthy, normal, closed relationships are possible and that open relationships aren't necessary. Could they work? Honestly, I don't know. I'm very very skeptical and I think we have to be careful about what we mean by "work." I'm not so sure that a typical closed relationship and an open relationship would measure success the same way and strive for the same goals. All of what I know about open relationships has been from an HBO's Real Sex documentary and very little anecdotal evidence. From what I've seen, I'm not a big proponent, but maybe it works for some people. I'd love to hear stories if any of you would like to share.