Since reading Brene Brown's books and following her blog I have learned a lot about vulnerability and how important it is. I have been able to recognize my vulnerabilities and how to deal with them. She helps you recognize the signs your body makes when you are feeling vulnerable or shame and how to react in more of a positive way for yourself and for those who are around you.
The thing in my life that has taught me most about vulnerability is divorce. Being a single parent of, soon to be, 3 kids has made me feel very vulnerable. I am actually surprised by how vulnerable I feel. Even though Clint and I are working well together and parenting our kids and helping each other that "safety net" of marriage that I never knew existed until now has been pulled away and I literally feel like I am walking a tight rope without a net beneath me. The fear at times can be overwhelming so I really can not think about it for too long or I will go crazy.
Since separating and getting a divorce I have had lots of people confide in me about their own marriage difficulties and beliefs. I have had quite a few people tell me they don't think monogamy is a natural human capability. And I am not talking about sexually although I realize that can make quite a debate. There are a lot of people that believe that getting married and spending your life with one person is not possible and since we grow and change so much in our lifetimes our preference in our partner will change too. I understand the argument and tried to justify it for myself for a while to make myself feel better. Now that all is said and done and I am on the other side of marriage I have a much better understanding of marriage and how it works and why it was invented.
Maybe humans, with their animal nature, were not built to be monogamous sexually or intimately but maybe that's what makes monogamy great and rewarding. I think there are lots of valid points on both sides of the "is monogamy human nature" debate. My own opinion is that it is natural for us to want to find someone to share ourselves wholly with and have babies with and eat lots of chocolate with It is up to us if we want to share ourselves wholly and I think that if we don't it can be a big problem in our marriage. I also think that not eating enough chocolate can be a big problem too but the weight gain might be more of a problem so the debate continues! And on we go...
I have found, and I know this is quoted a lot, that nothing worth anything is really easy. If something is easy for us we are not invested and we get bored. We naturally like to be challenged and marriage and monogamy is definitely a challenge.
I do think that marriage can make monogamy harder though. Let me explain. I think that when people get married some type of safety switch turns on in their brains. Marriage makes us feel all safe and snuggly. This person has committed to us and they are "stuck" with us no matter what we do to them. Marriage takes away the work of having to keep our partner happy and satisfied with us. They have made the commitment to us so the gamble is done, the games are over, the makeup is off and the weight comes on. They have to love us they don't get to love us. Now our partner tends to come last and friends and jobs and TV come first. Remember when you just had a boy/girl friend and you always ditched your friends for him/her and your friends would tease you about it? Well then you get married and now you are suddenly available at any moment for your friends because this partner of yours will be home waiting for you no matter how late you are and they aren't possibly going to go out with someone else because you have secured that they won't with the whole marriage thing. (This paragraph could be said with some big air quotes. Please realize I don't think this is the safe way to treat marriage but it seems that lots of married people fall into this "safety" trap. I am one of them.)
At this point let me just clarify that living with someone is a vulnerable thing. Your partner is going to see, hear and smell things that might be uncomfortable for the both of you. Lots of "mysteries" must be let go and lots of realities must be accepted. So I'm not saying that not wearing makeup all the time means your marriage is going to fail or that letting go those mysteries means you don't care about keeping your partner happy. Lots of times things like that help you grow closer as a couple. Being vulnerable and being your whole self with someone and then having that someone love you is such a wonderful thing that people risk a lot to attain a relationship like that. My point is that we want so badly to have that kind of love but once we get it and secure it the challenge of the get feels gone so we stop all the seemed nonsense of the getting and melt into the safety net of marriage not really realizing that the safety net can be stripped away at any moment or it may not be there at all and we don't realize it. Jeez did that make sense?
OK, so I will try to wrap this up because I realize that a lot of people don't like to read.
Through getting a divorce I have come to understand marriage better. I have come to understand why it is a good thing and how to have a more successful marriage. I have come to understand a lot of my own mistakes in my marriage and how over a long period of time a marriage can go bad without you even realizing it is going bad. Marriage is like a can of green beans. It actually has a pretty long shelf life so it gets pushed back to the back of the cupboard and we keep buying new fresh green beans because they seem so much better and those canned ones are going to last a while so we don't have to worry about them but then one day we are cleaning out the cupboard and realize they have expired and not only by a couple months but by a couple years. Are you sick of the lame analogies yet?
Marriage is not a guarantee of happily ever after.
Marriage is not a guarantee of love.
Marriage is not a commitment that can't be broken. And it is usually not a mutual break.
Marriage does not mean you get to stop trying to keep your partner happy. You shouldn't suddenly stop going to the ballet or watching sports because you don't feel like you "have" to anymore because you are married.
Maybe marriage isn't a safety net at all!?? Duh! That might be the problem! We think there is a safety net but we are really walking the tight rope happily and over confidently without realizing at any moment we could fail and fall and there is no net and no one to catch us. No on is obligated to catch us. The question should be will they want to catch us. (You just witnessed an epiphany, be honored.)
In another direction I understand why people choose to stay together but never get married, i.e. Goldie and Kurt. It almost seems like a greater commitment not to get married but stay together and I understand why that would work better for some people. I think it keeps you and your relationship more vulnerable which might keep you working harder for it but I also understand how this can get really exhausting. Everyone is different and what is going to work for some won't work for others so stop judging.
Hopefully this post will make sense to someone out in the world. I had a lot of thoughts jumbled in my head and I feel like I just threw them up without organizing them. I did attempt to though. I wish writing was my talent and I could eloquently write these thoughts and inspire loads of people. Sorry about that you few who read this.
I'm sure I could go on and on and I will post about this topic again. For now here is a picture for your reward of reading this to the end.
My cousin got married over the weekend. My brother came into town and he is the favorite uncle (also only) but the kids really love him. For some reason Eva would not join the group and cried when I tried to make her. It turned out we got this awesome picture out of it. I love it.