The Meaning Behind Marriage Essay, Research Paper
The Meaning Behind Marriage
Welcome to “Hell.” Welcome to the “trap.” Welcome to “the rest or your life.” These words are commonly heard everyday by couples who are engaged to be married. Encouraging words are passed around also, but we all know that few marriages last forever. Marriages should be based on total trust and “togetherness,” and without this, marriage cannot last. Marriage is about knowing the good as well as the bad, the thrills and joys versus the pain and sadness.
A formal definition gives us the scientific meaning behind a word. Dictionaries are the chief providers of these definitions of what people would like to know. According to Webster’s Third New International Dictionary 1986, marriage is defined as “the statute of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband and wife,” or “and intimate close reunion.” After looking into Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language 1996, I found another definition, one that is provided ten years later. The dictionary states marriage is “the legal or religious ceremony that formalizes the decision of a man and woman to live as husband and wife, including the accompanying social festivities” and “the state, condition, or relationship of being married, such as wedlock.” I am surprised that none of these dictionaries define marriage with love, happiness, or togetherness. Isn’t that what marriage is all about? Wrong. Marriage is about so much more. Marriage is about survival of the fittest. Only the strong survive.
After the immense possibilities of what marriage is, many would be surprised at what marriage is not. To find what marriage is not, we could express our feelings and opinions, such as marriage is not adultery, divorce, mistrust, disrespect, dishonesty, disloyalty, and convenience. The exact opposite of these words is marriage. Many myths about marriages have evolved throughout our lives and the problem is that many people believe these myths. Would you like to hear some examples? According to the source Psychological Self-Help, “people marry because they are passionately in love’” and “married people love’ each other.” This is just a beginning to the myths. Of course, love is important in a marriage, but do most of us marry because we are in love’ or because we actually love’ the other person? The myth list continues on and on with such things like, “good sex means good marriage,” “most marriages can’t survive a period of hate,” “married people understand each other without talking,” and “good marriages are just simply made in heaven’ and don’t require attention or work” (Psychological Self-Help n.p.). Most of these myths or beliefs’ may contain some truth, but not for all marriages. According to philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, “It is not the lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages,” (Psychological Self-Help n.p.). Could this be true? High School Sweethearts’ that marry and grow old together seem to think so. Marriage is knowing somebody your whole life, the good and the bad, and still wanting to be with them, completely. Marriage is not dissatisfaction, but overall complete satisfaction, despite the differences. (Lipthrott n.p.; Miles n.p.; Psychological Self-Help n.p.).
Just as we go through stages of life, within those stages are sub-stages. We grow from infancy to childhood to young adulthood to adult and then finally to an elder. Those sub-stages within these stages are just as important. The sub-stages of a someone’s life molds him/her into the person he/she later becomes. Some of us have horrible childhoods, others have great childhoods. It’s the luck of the draw. The first stage of a relationship is the actual first meeting. It is in those few moments of time that we realize whether or not this could be a friend, something more, or nothing at all. We can have our mind made up within minutes. Then we continue through sub-stages with others until we find that special someone we want to marry. Once we marry, the sub-stages continue on. Three out of the five sources that I researched explained marriage and the five sub-stages that go along with marriage. Within these stages, marriage is examined on why it lasts forever or why it fails. (Lipthrott n.p.; Miles n.p.; Psychological Self-Help n.p.).
Most people, women and men, want to be romanced. We go through “Consummation- – talking, touching, making love’,” feeling that everything is going to last forever (Psychological Self-Help N.P.). This “romantic love” blinds people. Most people take this stage as I am in love and it will always stay this way.’ Most believe that this is what marriage is. Marriage is this passionate love for one another, and nothing is ever going to change that. This is the stage when we start to talk about marriage because we feel that this love’ is going to last forever. Not only is this love on an emotional level, but “there are actually physiological processes that occur” (Lipthrott 1). In every human is a peptide called PEA, or phenoethalymine. This peptide “increases energy, feelings of well being, positive outlook, and diminishes pain” (Lipthrott 1). When the body produces PEA, it gives us the energy to wake up in the morning after no sleep, and it allows the body to function as if we had slept all night. PEA is proven to increase sexual desire, or those “impulses” that we act upon. It increases those “heat of the moment” desires. This stage allows us to feel perfect, in love, hopeful, and most of all, it gives us confidence. Confidence not only in ourselves but with our partner as well. (Lipthrott n.p.; Miles n.p.; Psychological Self-Help n.p.).
Fault finding, blame and jealousy are problems that occur in relationships and marriage. This is known as stage two, “Disillusionment / The Power Struggle. . . The Invitation to Growth” (Lipthrott 2). We begin to feel let down because we did not get what we expected. The high expectations that we set-up for our partner are flawed. We think, This isn’t marriage. We are supposed to be happy.’ Not only do we blame each other, but we blame ourselves. But in actuality, there should be no blame at all. This let down’ feeling is actually caused by the PEA. The production of the PEA declines and “because we see the other person as the source of our good feelings, we blame them when we don’t feel as good – not realizing that part of it is simply biological” (Lipthrott 2). This stage can lead to denial of certain aspects or bargaining. People begin to say If you do this for me, then I’ll do this for you.’ I know that I hate when people try to bargain with me, so in this stage, I get angry and frustrated and I don’t know how to vent my anger. I want to believe with my heart that marriage isn’t like this, but no one can deny it. All aspects of life are presented before us in a marriage; important decisions fall upon us like a drop of a dime. As I said before, only the strong survive, and if a marriage cannot survive this stage, it ends up in divorce. Hopelessness sets in and the easy-way-out is taken for granted. Divorce. Something marriage is not.
On the other hand, the strong couples at this stage “decide that this must be what marriage is, and try to just cope with it” (Lipthrott 3). I believe that if we would realize that marriage is work, love is work, life is work, then we could survive anything. As stated by Menander in a quote, “Marriage, if one will face the truth, is an evil, but a neccessary evil” (Bartlett 81). Things happen for a reason, and when they don’t go right, keep working. The key for success in life is hard work. Hard work never killed anybody.
When we, a couple, realize that we have the strength to go on, then we have reached stage three, “Acceptance,” (Miles 1), as well as “Knowledge, Awareness, and Transformation” (Lipthrott 3). Acknowledging and accepting these faults can compromise any situation. Once we know that we are committed to changing, the transformation takes place. Many say, Well, how do we move on? How do we change?” These questions are not for one person to answer. Experts’ suggest counseling, other’s suggest looking at other marriages, but I suggest talking and understanding. Remember the myth, “Married people understand each other without talking” (Psychological Self-Help n.p.). That is like saying, “I know him, even though I’ve never talked to him.” Besides hard work, talking is a key to success. It’s the level that the whole world communicates upon. We, as couples, need to talk about our problems, find what we can do to change them, and do it. Couples need to “grow together” (Miles 1). Both may try to resist the changes, but resist the resistance to change. One must find the needs, find the partner’s needs, and then compromise. (Lipthrott n.p.; Miles n.p.; Psychological Self-Help n.p.).
Who survives the transformation? Only the strong, I believe. Stage four is also transformation, but more complete. You both “keep in mind the whole picture of what you want to create together and then both work to make it happen” (Lipthrott 4). Work, how tough can it be? If we are dedicated to making our marriages work, and we finally can, then we have reached stage five, “Real Love” (Lipthrott 4). Not only are we together with our partner, we are still an individual. We can enjoy our time alone as much as we could enjoy our time with our partner. We both have “deep respect and appreciation of one another as separate and unique individuals” (Lipthrott 4). I believe that Dr. Linda Cooper Miles, author of the source, The Five Stages of Marriage, sums up marriage and relationships perfectly; “Having a good relationship is like learning to manage a fire. When we take care of the fire properly – add logs when needed and manage the potential destructiveness, it generates warmth, sensuality, and great beauty in our lives” (Miles 1). If we all strive to work for this attainable goal, this prosperous marriage, divorce wouldn’t be a question. Just remember, survival of the fittest. (Lipthrott n.p.; Miles n.p.; Psychological Self-Help n.p.).
For the most part, we generally believe that marriage is this sacred bond and that the love’ will last forever. Once again, wrong! Work hard, open ourselves up, let our self help our partner open up, compromise, and then we will be happy and have real love.’ Marriage is all about compromise. What is the point of having a relationship if we just give up? As Shakespeare wrote, “There is no safety, but in risking all for love” (Miles 1). Take the chance. Do it. Take that risk.’ Work hard for ourselves as well as for our partner, and we could lead a happy life. Decide what we want as a couple, work hard, strive for the goal, and we will survive and succeed.
W O R K S C I T E D
Bartlett, John. Familiar Quotations. 16th ed. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1992.
Lipthrott, Dawn. “Make Your Way through the Stages of Marriage and Relationship.” Online Internet. Http://www.magicnet.net/-dawnmar/stages.html/. 03 mar. 1999.
Miles, Dr. Linda Cooper. “The Five Stages of Marriage.” Online Internet. http://www.bridesetc.co./Stages.htm/. 03 mar. 1999
Psychological Self-Help. “Marriage and Love.” Online Internet. http://www.mhnet.org/psyhelp/chap10/chap10g. Htm #c. 03 Mar. 1999.