As a kid, I had a mild crush on a certain girl that I lived next door to. And by ‘mild crush’ I mean ‘severe obsessive infatuation’. I’d sit on the porch and watch for her when she came home and sit by the window in the morning to see her get in the car and go to school – pathetically smitten was I. One day I mentioned this to a friend who was slightly older and he told me that I should tell her something. So, after weeks of procrastination and internal debate, I told her to meet me behind a certain building that was under construction nearby. Heart beating, palm sweaty, behind a building, I struggled to get the words out. ‘I….I mean…uh…I…’ Deep breath, try again. ‘I really….uh….I…’ OK, maybe you’re saying it wrong. Find another way to say it. ‘Uh…well…do you like me cause I think I like you.’ Finally!
She replied ‘Was that a question?’
‘I guess so.’
‘Then yeah, I guess I do.’
Oh joy. I grinned with 50 teeth, pushing my ears so high up, I’m sure they were touching over my head. Then she pulled a sobering darkness that put an end to my intoxicating moment in the sun.
‘So what now?’
This story surfaced from the recesses of my mind as I read the debate on marriage last week: riveting stuff. I abstained from commenting because I had had that conversation before. Many times.
I had listened to woman after woman – the best of whom, by the way – sit across the table from me and denounce the whole concept of marriage as fundamentally flawed with a relentless deconstruction of matrimony; eroding it from a sanctum and divine union, to a cubicle and contractual agreement and sometimes to an indentured servitude and enslavement.
But at the same time, I’ve sat on the other side of that table and listened to testimonies of the beauty of marriage; witnessed the amazing feat of couples after decades of union comfortably orbiting around the same core, loving each other like they just met and working together like they’ve always known each other.
So I empathize with both sides. I also question both sides. One question, really: what is marriage?
You could read from the dictionary and lose points for not knowing; read from a Holy book and lose points for not understanding, or read from a website and lose points for not having an opinion. Or you could answer that question genuinely, from the heart: what is marriage to you?
Is it an agreement of convenience that unites like-minded individuals and/or ethnically homogeneous families under the pretenses of cultural/religious rite? Is it a holy union and religious duty that brings us closer to God? Is it a way to get laid, a way to get paid, or a way to get made into something more – a mere means to a less mere end? Is it a celebration of love, or a contractual legislation; a necessary biological imperative or a smart business/strategic move?
There is no right or wrong answer, but one needs to have an answer. And an educated one at that. You can’t hate or love something without knowing what it is. And you need to know what marriage is to you before being able to address the real issue at hand:
‘What is marriage material?’
How do you decide that you as a person are either fit or unfit for
consumption consummation? Where does one begin denouncing something they haven’t bothered to understand? Who decided in the first place that one has to pre-qualify for marriage?
You see I have a theory – one of my better ones, at that.
My theory is that most people are kids sitting on their porches overwhelmed with emotion trying to find a way to get it out. Or coming home from school, waiting for their he/she to give them a sign. Most people clumsily fumble with relationships and get caught in webs of blissful romance or lustful infatuation that glaze their perceptions and skew their decisionmaking skills. Which is how most people end up behind a building asking questions they really have not thought through, nay comprehend the implications to. Or they don’t out of fear and fallacious reasoning.
What I’m saying is that I think most people are afraid to assess, let alone reassess, the meaning of marriage. We just accept it. As a result, I think most people don’t completely understand relationships. I’ll take that one step further and say that most people are scared to.
As well they should be. It’s some pretty heavy sh*t. All of it. Impacting several lives and lifetimes with each action and inaction is something worth having second thoughts about. Third even. Definitely something to dream about, but also worth a few nightmares here and there.
Because at the end of the day, until you can stand on your own 2 feet in front of pastor, Imam, spouse and/or attorney, fully aware, afraid and unfaltering, you are probably not marriage material. Until you can read someone’s stance on marriage without it impacting your own; you are more than likely not marriage material.
Further, until you’ve found someone that complements and understands your perspective on relationships and marriage, you probably have no business even considering being marriage material. Because compatibility tests are between two people; not a person and a concept. Which is how people who hate the world still have friends. People who hate/love/are uncertain about marriage can still find a pairing.
And until one can fully accept their position in the game, they probably shouldn’t play it.
It’s that humility and powerlessness that most are afraid to submit to. This is probably how the concept of ‘marriage material’ even came to exist. It’s really just a round-a-bout way of saying ‘readiness’; that most people are too afraid to admit lacking.
But that’s just a theory, mine at that. And we all really should have one, at least a vague idea, before beginning raising our voices for or against our readiness or willingness to marry; let alone slipping jewelry on anybody’s finger.
Think first. Act second. Regret never. Be merry. Live long.