I have a theory about marriage in these days of longevity. Yes, I know this won't be a popular idea, but here's what I think. We live much longer than we used to, and now we need a partner for procreation and then one to hang out with till death. Some of us have the great good fortune, prescience, and smarts to meet this hang out till death person in the procreation stage, but many of us get to the empty nest and decide to leave it ourselves.
Now, this isn't the starter partner thing I'm talking about. I never managed a starter marriage. I had what I described above (thus the reason I believe in it so fully). I have run into people who were married one, two, five years, divorced that person, and went onto long term procreation marriage. This is not to say they won't need hang out till death marriage later as well. Three times is a charm, as they say.
Who we pick to reproduce with has been analyzed to death. There are theories about gene pool and providing and nurturing and hip size. Apparently, we size up our mates based on ancient human knowledge resiging in DNA. We know who we need instinctual, trying to create the babies that will survive on the planet.
Later, the man with the great job and the woman with the big hips might not be the ones we want to stay with. We want someone who will talk with us about Gaudi and Camus and go bowling with us. We want to travel to Nepal and Belize and scuba dive. We want to make pasta and sit out on the deck and talk about our feelings. We want a connection that we don't have any more or never did--because the connection we had was based on tribal need. Or just one wild night. Who knows.
But we turn to the person who has been with us, and for no other really good reason (ie, abuse) we want out. Maybe the reproducing partner wants to play golf and eat steak and won't go to therapy. Maybe now that the reproducing is all over, intimacy is over as well.
I watch many of my married friends, and I can see some of the marriages have evolved into a "I can't leave, but I don't want to stay" form of functioning. Both partners lead separate lives, emotionally and physically. Different vacations. Different interests. Same house.
It's likely that this split partnered life has been around for a while. Thus the need for commandments and social sanctions and adulterous affairs. It's not easy to break up with the person with whom you had children, as there is no real break at all. For the rest of your lives, you will have the connection of actual human flesh between you. Human flesh you both love. There will be graduations and marriages and grandchildren. There will be struggles and needs and issues you will have to talk about. For some, that is reason enough to stay.
And there is that love you will both carry for each other because at one time you both came together to do something so old and instinctual and human. You made a couple of babies together, raised them, watched them grow up. That is a bond like no other, truly.
In a dream world, we would be able to part more easily, but we grow attached to everything that is past. What is new is scary. Change means we have to change. Wanting something is different than actually going after it and is not for the faint of heart. Frankly, I don't always recommend it, as the journey can be too frightening. There is always the possibility that we won't find the new partner we want. Or maybe being virtually partnered while partnered is a perfect balanced of independence and dependence. We do not rely on the other for emotional support, but if the house burns down or we are injured or ill, there our partner and his or her benefits are.
If medical science keeps improving, we might end up living until we are 120 as a matter of course. It's likely our relationship patterns will adjust to these new biological facts. Maybe we will end up with three partners over the course of a long life, all based on the time we are in.
Okay, enough of my theory. I am sure someone has an opinion about this one!
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