I have to admit, even Brad and I suffered from short bouts of wedding fever when we first met. Shortly after we started dating, he left town for an old friend’s wedding. He called me drunk during the reception and started ranting about how much cooler his wedding was going to be someday.
“I’m going to be galloping around in the woods on a big white stallion,” he said. “I’ll keep coming back and forth, to tease the audience. They’ll wonder if I’m getting cold feet. I’ll let the suspense build and build, until finally I come charging back, and there will be fireworks and music as I ride down the aisle.”
“Not at my wedding,” he said. He wanted to be the star of his own show, as he should be.
Fast forward nine months… Brad found himself on the phone, pacing our one-bedroom apartment, breaking the news to his father that his girlfriend was 5 months pregnant. The first thing his dad wanted to know was whether we were getting married. Brad told him plans for a wedding were in the works, even though a wedding was the last thing on our minds.
My mom wanted assurances of wedlock as well, most likely to make sure Brad wouldn’t try to escape his “duties” as a father. I told her I didn’t want to be pregnant in my wedding dress, and maybe we’d wait a couple of years and have our daughter be the flower girl.
As the years passed after her birth though, a wedding seemed more and more pointless. We thought, if anything, we’d have a party someday to celebrate our love, not to legally chain ourselves together. But now, even that seems stupid. What would it signify? What would it mean?
It would have no religious or legal significance. Neither of us believe in the church or government sanctioning or regulating our love. It wouldn’t represent any personal contracts, commitments or promises we’ve made to one another. We don’t have any of those.
I know marriage would’ve given some people a (false) sense of security that Brad was going to stick around and be a father to his child. But I understood all to well that gold rings and signatures on paper don’t have the power to keep two people isolated together. Only handcuffs can do that.
The only other reason I could think of for getting married – other than locking Brad into paternity – was locking him into sexual monogamy, which I also knew papers and rings couldn’t do, and I’ve since learned is not at all desirable.
Sexual monogamy. That’s what marriage all comes down to, doesn’t it? When we say we want to get married, what we really mean is we don’t want “our” man or woman to have sex with anyone else ever again.
But has anyone ever wondered why we don’t want them to have sex with anyone else? Is it a natural desire or a culturally conditioned one?
According to the book Sex at Dawn, early, prehistoric humans – like their closest relatives the bonobos – were glad for their sex partners to have other sex partners. They encouraged and celebrated it. In fact, almost all members of a tribe had sex with almost all other members. It was the cornerstone of their community – what bonded them them together. They even had sex with members of neighboring tribes from time to time to keep the peace.
All members of the society, apparently, enjoyed sexual freedom and social egalitarianism. They all worked together to feed and care for their young and it made no difference whose seed one generated from. When one member of the tribe killed an animal, the entire village feasted. If they killed more meat than they could eat, they shared with neighboring tribes, ensuring neighboring tribes would share with them in the future.
But with the advent of agriculture, the concept of private property was born and the rules of sexuality changed. When people learned to farm, they settled down and began filling their silos with grain and their barns with livestock. Men marked off the boundaries of their land and wanted to pass their property on to their “rightful” genetic heirs.
To ensure paternity, rules were created to ensure sexual monogamy, especially for women. A man might want to pass on his property to children from multiple wives, but he sure didn’t want to work to feed another man’s child. Thus, the control of women’s sexuality began.
So the pretty little fairytale the media has told you for the last couple of centuries about marriage being a celebration of love, is really the story of man dominating the earth, marking off his territory, and taking a woman or two as part of that property.
If you don’t believe me, just read it on Wikipedia:
“Historically, in most cultures, married women had very few rights of their own, being considered, along with the family’s children, the property of the husband; as such, they could not own or inherit property, or represent themselves legally.”
And since historically sex outside of marriage has been outlawed, women had to choose between celibacy and poverty or marital slavery.
Wikipedia goes on to talk about the gradual improvement of married women’s rights, including “giving wives legal identities of their own, abolishing the right of husbands to physically discipline their wives, giving wives property rights, liberalizing divorce laws, providing wives with reproductive rights of their own, and requiring a wife’s consent when sexual relations occur.”
While I’m glad the institution of marriage is becoming more tolerable for women, it certainly hasn’t turned out blissfully for most of the married men I know.
Baby Daddies, Bread Winners and Love
What does being a baby’s biological father and promising to go to work each day to win it and its mother bread have to do with erotic love? Nothing. In fact, the arrangement sounds like a real mood killer to me. Osho calls it “the fundamental slavery.”
The book Sex at Dawn describes alternative arrangements, where paternity and childcare have nothing to do with romantic love. In one ancient Asian culture that still thrives today, women are free to take as many lovers as they like, and their brothers help them raise any children they may have. In hunter-gatherer days, children were the responsibility of the whole tribe.
If marriage is the happily-ever-after we’ve been programmed to believe it is, why do up to 75 percent of married people cheat on their spouses? Whether it’s an emotional love affair, actual sex, masturbating to porn, strip clubs or a massage with a happy ending – the tendency for our eyes, hearts and bodies to wander is pretty universal.
The constant quest for novelty is a sign of intelligence, Sex at Dawn authors point out. If a baby only wanted to play with the same toy all the time, the experts would worry about his brain development. Smart babies are on the prowl, exploring, looking for new things.
As adults we’re still exploring, looking for adventure and learning about ourselves through our relationships to others. It is by seeing ourselves reflected in the mirrors of a gazillion others that we know who we are – a fragment of the whole, not a half of two.
People say it takes death to bring about new life. That’s why I think it’s time for marriage to die. It’s time for us to evolve out of bondage and co-dependence, out of being someone else’s other half, and become whole individuals – well-rounded individuals, whose sharp corners are smoothed and balanced by intimacies with as many people as possible.
It’s already happening. Marriage has been slowly dying since it began, and it’s only lasted as long as it has because humans have found loopholes to love in spite of it. We don’t need it anymore. We’re realizing it’s an ancient control mechanism and we’re done with it. We want to live on our own terms, not Moses’ (or polygamist Abraham’s).
I’m going to conclude with a list of awesome quotes by Osho.
Osho on marriage
“Marriage basically means that you are not able yet to be alone; you need the other. Without the other you feel meaningless and with the other you feel miserable … It teaches you your reality, that something deep inside you needs transformation so that you can be blissful alone and you can be blissful together. Then marriage is no more marriage because then it is no more bondage. Then it is sharing, then it is love.”
“The ordinary marriage is an unconscious bondage: you cannot live alone so you become dependent on the other; the other cannot live alone so he or she becomes dependent on you. And we hate the person on which we are dependent; nobody likes to depend on anybody. Our deepest desire is to have freedom, total freedom – and dependence is against freedom … Everybody hates dependence, and that’s why couples are continuously fighting, not knowing why they are fighting.”
“Love is creative, marriage is destructive. But love is not dependable: this moment it may be there and the next moment gone. And man wants permanent things; he is obsessed with permanent things. He wants security, safety, he wants to cling. Hence love is not reliable, so he created marriage.”
“Marriage is a plastic flower. Love is a real rose, but the real rose is beautiful in the morning; by the evening it is gone.”
“When a man thinks about a woman he thinks about love, he never thinks about marriage. When a woman thinks about a man, she thinks about marriage. Love is secondary, security is first. She lives in a different kind of world – maybe in the future she may not, but in the past the only problem for the woman was how to be secure … She is fragile, she is soft, she is weaker, she is afraid. All around is a man-created world, and she is a stranger in it. She needs security.”
“Man is less interested in marriage, very much less interested. In fact not interested at all. If he agrees, he agrees only reluctantly – because marriage means responsibility. Marriage means bondage, marriage means now you are imprisoned. Now you are no more free to move with other women. For a man, marriage looks like a prison. For a woman, marriage looks like safety, security, a home. For a woman marriage means home, and for a man marriage means slavery.”
“What is the difference between a prostitute and a wife? One is a temporary arrangement, the other is a little more permanent … If you go into it, it is marriage that has created prostitution. And prostitution will never disappear from the world unless marriage disappears; it is the shadow of marriage. In fact prostitutes have been saving marriage. It is a safety measure so the man can go once in a while, just for a change, to any other woman, a prostitute, and save his marriage and its permanency.”
“Once two persons are tied together freedom is lost and anger arises. When freedom is lost everything becomes ugly … You have bargained for permanence, for security, and you have paid for it with freedom.”
“Marriage is a way to avoid intimacy. It is a trick to create a formal relationship. Intimacy is informal. If a marriage [monogamy] arises out of intimacy it is beautiful but if you are hoping that intimacy will arise out of marriage, you are hoping in vain. Of course, I know that many people, millions of people, have settled for marriage rather than for intimacy – because intimacy is growth and it is painful.”
“Marriage is very secure. It is safe. There is no growth in it. One is simply stuck. Marriage is a sexual arrangement; intimacy is a search for love. Marriage is a sort of prostitution, a permanent sort … The arrangement is economical, not psychological, not of the heart.”
“So remember, if marriage [monogamy] arises out of intimacy then it is beautiful. That means that everybody should have lived together before they get married. The honeymoon should not happen after marriage, it should happen before marriage. One should have lived the dark nights, the beautiful days, the sad moments, the happy moments, together. One should have looked into each other’s eyes deeply, into each other’s being.”
“Marriage is going to disappear, should disappear. And now the point is coming in the history of humanity where it becomes possible that marriage can disappear. It is already an outmoded phenomenon, it has lived too long and it has created nothing but misery. Marriage should disappear and love should flower again. One should live with insecurity and freedom.”
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