A Little Insight

So I hear people talk about how they aren’t going to get married.  Marriage is a failed institution.  Marriage only leads to divorce.  Maybe they’ve already been through a divorce and don’t ever want to face that horror again.  The reasons and rationale are all fairly similar.  Somehow, not getting married is going to avoid the devastation of divorce.

I don’t think this makes a lot of sense.  It’s not as though you’re going to prevent yourself from becoming emotionally attached to someone just because neither of you intend to marry.  It’s not as though you hold back a part of yourself, whatever part that is (since it clearly isn’t sexual intimacy any longer), and holding that back somehow protects you or is less emotionally devastating than if you had given that part of you as well.  We don’t make such distinctions.  Or at least, some of us don’t.  Girls should be very, very aware that many guys are very capable of making this distinction.  And while I’m sure that there are plenty of women who make this distinction as well, I’m old-fashioned enough to believe that guys are worse.

I was out this evening with some guys and they were talking, as guys will do.  Being the only married one (and considerably older), it was a conversation between the two of them and not me.  One guy has been in a relationship with a woman for years.  Years.  His girlfriend at one point in the not-too-distant past was threatening to end things with him if he didn’t propose, but to my knowledge he hasn’t proposed yet.  The other guy was excited about a new girl in his life.  She was very motivated (which he was happy about because he didn’t want to support her), very busy (which he was happy about because he didn’t want to be expected to  spend all his time with her) and very fit and thin (which he was happy about because he hoped to be sexually intimate soon and expected his girl to take good care of herself so he didn’t get bored with her).

Now, it could be said that guys – particularly younger guys (if you consider late 20’s and early 30’s young, which I don’t) will talk and boast and say things that they don’t really mean to one another.  On another level, it was clear that they were telling the truth at least at a certain level.

They agreed that really marriage was pointless.  There was nothing to be gained by permanently binding themselves to one person, and plenty to lose.  Which implies that they both understand that marriage is fundamentally something different than long-term dating.  Most telling was the guy in the long-term relationship’s statement – As long as you don’t get her pregnant you’re not committed to her.   Wow.  Years together with the same woman and yet he still sees himself as essentially not committed to her just because he hasn’t gotten her pregnant.  Years together and yet he can still consider walking away if someone better comes along, because he is committed.  He isn’t married to her.

I wonder if she feels the same way?  If her Facebook feed is any indicator, she seems pretty committed to him.

I think about my daughter and about the guys she will meet in her life.  I think a lot about how to prepare her for those encounters.  For their charm and their handsomeness and for the giddy rush of emotions (and hormones).  I think a lot about how to give her insight, how to give her wisdom about the decisions she will make.  I could get very cynical and despair that she’ll even find a guy who has his head screwed on straight and won’t simply be looking at her as a means of fulfilling himself with no thought ultimately to her.  But I won’t go there.  I just pray that we can help provide her with the good sense to weed out the boys from the man.  That we can help her see that words don’t mean a lot unless they are backed with commitment.  That we can show her that while a marriage license is no guarantee of a guy’s intentions or worthiness, it goes a long way towards clearing out the wheat from the chaff.

And I hope that the guy she marries won’t be out complaining about her to his friends, or acting as though she’s some sort of nose wart that he puts up with reluctantly because the benefits are too compelling or nobody better has caught his eye yet.  A guy that talks like that when he’s out with his friends, even if he’s mostly bluffing, doesn’t deserve my daughter.  Or anyone else’s, either.

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