Because of our distorted image of human relationships, especially of marriage, many people walk around in the world feeling rejected and worthless.
This is a post about marriage and relationships. Yet, this isn’t a post about how to fall in love with being single before entering into a relationship. Also, this isn’t a post about how to find the love of your life. This is a post about the disintegration of marriage that has resulted in me and many other young ladies and men living as single people today. I want to speak about the problem of which no one seems to want to address: The Confusion About Marriage.
I am not claiming to be an expert, here, but I am a consistent thinker and observer of life. The way I see it: marriage has become a very confusing concept for many people for various reasons. In this post, I will aim to capture all of my views on how I think people look at marriage in today’s world and some possible causes for why they might view marriage the way they do. Then, I will pose some questions about how me and other Christians (especially Orthodox Christians) look at marriage. Let’s go!
1 – Marriage is the “Happily Ever After” of a fairy tale!
Even if we don’t realize it, the media has engrained in our minds that marriage is the happy ending of a fairy tale. Although the media portrays marriage as something desirable for couples, the real goal of marriage has become nothing but a joke for the media. When two people fall in love, they struggle for a while, and then they finally realize that they are supposed to get married and live happily ever after…The END.
Why do the characters want to get married in the first place? Are they even a good match? Can Cinderella realistically marry the prince? Should Cinderella marry the prince? Are finances and social status really not an issue in modern marriages as much as we have to believe? I think not! I have heard of men who don’t even want to approach certain girls if they know that the girl has school loans! So, tell me, finances are meaningless in real life and I will never believe you. Tell me that marriage is a the start of an endless supply of joy and pink colors and I will never believe you. Tell me that marriage is easy and I will certainly never believe you!
Marriage is not the happy ending of a fairy tale. Marriage is the beginning of a life-long struggle for two people to try to reconcile their differences and biases to create a loving family.
2 – Marriage is a financial deal!
In today’s society, at least in the Western world, being single is financially disadvantageous. When you pay taxes as a single person, a nice chunk of your paycheck goes to the government. No disrespect here, because I am all for paying taxes. The only problem is that paying taxes as a single person is more of a disadvantage than if you were married with children. This concept is very much ironic to me. Do the powers in charge want people to be married, and that’s why they discourage people from being single in the financial realm? If that is, indeed, the case, then I would like to understand why? What is the standard by which governments measure that a married person is an advantage to society? I personally believe that marriage is important, but that is because I am looking at it from a religious lens – from the lens of being a Christian. What is the lens used by governments at large to decide that marriage is a good/bad/or even neutral thing?
Besides being a financial deal, what does marriage mean to a secular, non-religious, person? I will probably wonder about this question for a long time. If the goal of marriage in a secular society was procreation, most of the Western world today doesn’t believe that marriage is a moral pre-requisite for procreation. So, what is the point of marriage besides being a financial contract between two consenting adults, whether male, female, or neither?! If that is the case, I think perhaps we should begin calling it “the financial contract of mating” instead of marriage! This name makes sense economically and it makes sense evolutionarily, in case the mating is capable of producing offspring to encourage the continuation of the human species!
3 – Marriage is what we are supposed to do!
Now, I am going to shift a bit from the Western concepts and into the Eastern concepts about marriage. From my limited experience with individuals of Egyptian descent, I am confused as to why they desire to get married without having a solid understanding of what marriage means. I cannot make this a generalization – in fact, I hope that none of what I am saying in this post is taken as a generalization. There are certain individuals of Egyptian (or Middle Eastern or Arab) descent who know why they want to get married and they have a clear goal. These individuals of a certain (unnamed) religion want to take over the world! Their goal is very simple and direct, so they know exactly what to do and how to do it – get married as many times as possible and have as many children as possible. End of story there (there is evidence for my claim here, but I encourage my readers to research it on their own).
The other side (Christianity), of which I am more familiar, consists of individuals who are lost – really, they are lost! They don’t know whether to follow the Western ideals about marriage or the Eastern ideals about marriage. They try to do both and often they fail. Well, some fail and some succeed – again, there are exceptions to every rule.
Yet, that’s not all. Once you add Orthodoxy, you add another layer of confusion. These individuals now don’t know whether to follow a celibate lifestyle (whether in the world or in a monastery) or to actually get married and have children and family. So, if they decide to get married, many strongly believe that marriage is just what they are supposed to do. They want it but they don’t know why. They want it but they don’t know how to be loving and sacrificial. They want it but they want single life too!
4. Marriage is the (only) way to intimate relationship!
For those who believe that marriage is the only holy way to have an intimate physical relationship with another person of the opposite sex, marriage becomes a means to an end – sexual intercourse. It is a means to achieve a physical relationship, but what about the responsibilities that come with marriage and what about all the needs of the other person (emotional, financial, physical, and mental)? Is this a selfish way to view marriage? Perhaps, but it is not the only selfish way to view marriage if we consider all the other points combined.
Would marriage be necessary for someone who is burning with desire? The Bible says that it can be, but what about when the fire behind that desire cools down? How will that person deal with the reality that he/she is now sharing the rest of his/her life with a new (familiar) stranger?
5. Marriage is a way of improving social status (and Facebook status)!
I think this point applies all over the place – in the West and in the East. Families, friends, co-workers, the mailman and other random people in the streets pay attention to whether someone is married or not. The way that people view a single person is different from how they view a married person. How do these different views look exactly? I don’t know, because there are so many and I have not had the privilege of reading the minds of everyone.
Yet, there are certain things that are more obvious than others. For instance, moms of single men might look at girls who have reached a certain age and haven’t been married as though there is something wrong with them (and vice versa about moms of single girls). Friends and family might do the same thing. Another example is that a married couple might be more hesitant to hang out with a single person than they would be if they hung out with a married couple – or a couple in general, whether married or not. Going out as a couple is nice at restaurants instead of eating alone…
For Facebook, it goes without saying now that Facebook status has become more important than booking the wedding reception! Couples all over the world make sure that they update their Facebook status and post a plethora of pictures to ensure that everyone has become aware of their holy matrimony – whether that couple even believes in holy marriage or not! Yeah, marriage is a kind of a big deal on social media! How else would you entice the envy and jealously of all single or sadly married people?! I don’t see any other way, really!
6. Marriage leads to the creation of a family and having children.
I am not biased…well, OK I am! I, personally, think that marriage should be about partnership, creating a very deep connection with another person, and creating a loving family. I don’t know if this is exactly what my own Church believes, but it is what I have concluded based on her teachings so far. This is also the only thing that makes sense to me. Why else would you call marriage, “marriage,” if the ultimate goal was anything other than creating a loving family? Marriage was not meant to happen so that divorce happens a few years down the road! It was meant to last – family is forever!
To add, for me, marriage represents the love that is between God and His Creation. He loves His creation so much and forever. God doesn’t become intimate through His love for us one day and then leave or abandon us the next. He doesn’t love us for any evil or selfish motive. His love is pure, intentional, sacrificial, and eternal. Along the same lines, marriage is a smaller version of this pure, intentional, sacrificial, and eternal love.
7. Marriage is many other things to many other people….
[you may insert your own views here on what you think marriage means]
Why would marriage be doomed for failure like we often think in modern society? Why are marriage and married people the butt of jokes in the media? Why is marriage supposed to be something we do in a hurry to appease the onlookers or to elevate our social status? Why is marriage just a social or financial contract between any two consenting adults? What is the meaning of that, anyways? Why is marriage looked at as the means to achieve a physical desire and neglect emotions, intellectual, and social needs and more?
For us Christians, Orthodox Christians…Ok, Coptic Orthodox Christians, what is marriage? What is marriage to all the young men trying to imitate Westernized, secular, standards of “dating” and “experimenting”? What is marriage to the young lady who is only concerned about her financial security with a rich husband? What is marriage to the single person only concerned about changing his/her social status? What is marriage to the lonely people who are just so confused why everyone is looking for money, education, or social status in a partner? What is marriage to all the people who cannot create a family of their own because they have a certain deformity or weakness that no one seems to be able to accept? What is marriage to the high and mighty arrogant people who want their partner to be perfect IN EVERY POSSIBLE WAY? What is marriage to these day dreamers?
I don’t know, perhaps, I am cynical. Perhaps, I am opinionated. Perhaps, I am ignorant. Perhaps, you are wondering what this post has to do with the theme of the blog? Well, I will tell you.
Because of our distorted image of human relationships, especially of marriage, many people walk around in the world feeling rejected and worthless. They feel as though their only value is in how much another person loves and wants them. They get their hearts broken. They let their lives slide and they even fail at doing those things that they love most to do. They lose any sense of who they are because they wait for someone else to tell them who they are.
What a sad state in which we live! We cannot see or grasp the value of our own existence because we have lost and twisted our understanding of relationships, especially marriage relationships.