Sunday, November 23, 2008

Marriage and Equality


I was sitting at the kitchen table as grandma was preparing lunch when I asked her about the equality of two persons in a marriage. She just turned, wiped her hands on her apron and with a smile came over and sat down across from me. Her words seemed to purr as she spoke of something that could only be spoken from love as she said to me,

“Boy, marriage is not about equality. It is about being united to a person whose needs you can fulfill. If everybody had the same needs then we could speak of marriage in the sense of equals. We are all individuals and as individuals, we all have different needs. Marriage is about finding that one person who can uniquely fulfill each of those needs.

The problem most people have is that marriage is always a work in progress, not the fulfillment of a dream. When we understand that, we can see the need of commitment, that marriage demands from each person. It is not so much a commitment to each other as it is a commitment to the promises we made. It is a commitment to fulfill the goals we have set. It is a commitment to the future of our lives regardless of past or present problems.

Don’t get me wrong, boy, your grandfather and I had our problems, especially early on in our marriage. There were plenty of nights that your grandfather slept on the couch. We learned though that most of those problems had to do more with finding out about the needs of the other than it did with the problem itself.

I think we finally realized the beauty of what marriage meant when we saw that it was not our needs that marriage was meant to fulfill but our need to fulfill the needs of the other. It was then when we realized just how unconditional our commitment had to be. It was then that we knew that marriage was a lifetime commitment for each other.

It is then we stop expecting of the other and fully commit ourselves to being what we are.

Your great great grandmother once told me that marriage is a lifetime of learning to understand and live with the impossible. It was your grandfather that taught me how true that is. There are times he can be the most impossible man on earth. Even after all the years we have been married, he still can be impossible to live with at times.

Marriage is a unique institution in that two people make a commitment to the impossible. A woman is a woman and no man can fully understand what it means to be a woman. It is impossible for him to see life from her perspective because he can never experience life as she does. The same is true of a man. If a time ever came that each could experience life as the other did then that would be the time to talk about the idea of equality of relationships.

Equality is an overrated concept. It is a concept that people will usually seek for others but are fully content in being themselves. It is a concept that demands change in attitude of another but never of the self. Equality is a concept used by too many to make themselves feel superior to others. As a man once said

Americans are so enamored of equality, they would rather be equal in slavery than unequal in freedom.”

So, boy, when you have found that lady that you think you cannot live without, just remember this. Don’t worry about whether or not you will treat her as an equal. Do the impossible; think more about whether or not you are treating her in a manner that makes her feel like a woman.”

I just sat there, my elbows on the table, my hands holding up my head, grinning as I nodded.

11 comments:

BB-Idaho said...

de Tocquiville may be applied to marriage, but us survivors (going on 44 years) follow the pragmatic
offering:
To keep your marriage brimming,
With love in the loving cup,
Whenever you're wrong, admit it;
Whenever you're right, shut up.
~Ogden Nash *heh*

The Griper said...

especially if you're a man, right, BB? hehe.

BB-Idaho said...

Ya know, Griper, this marriage thing reminds me of the synergy concept..the sum is greater than the whole of the parts. In marriage, ideally, the strengths of each outweigh the weaknesses of each. (Of course, I would be remiss to not mention a management course I once took, wherein groups were assigned; tests were taken individually, then by group discussion and consensus, taken as a whole. Invariably the groups did better. Then the teams were
re-jumbled. It was my misfortune to be placed in a dysfunctional and ill-informed group. We set a record..my test turned out better than our group..first time ever in that course. From which it is learned that the loudest is not necessarily the most correct. Which, on occasion, I remind my
superior partner...:)

The Griper said...

i think what it comes down to, BB is that we men appreciate women more than we like to let on. we may not show it as well as they'd like but it still is there beneath the surface.

Kat said...

I whole heartedly agree with your wise grandmother.
My husband and I counsel couples from our church who are preparing to get married. We always tell them something similar. And we also tell them that marriage is not 50/50. Sometimes it is 90/10. Sometimes it is 30/70. But hopefully the balance will go back and forth, as the couple takes turns taking the lead.
And your comments on my last two posts are exactly right.
Thank you for sharing your wisdon with us!

The Griper said...

wisdom, kat, i leave that to the man above. if i had any wisdom i would not have had so many plates bouncing off the back of my head in the past.

tweetey30 said...

Griper I couldnt have said this any better. Hats off to Grandma for telling you this exactly how it goes. After 13 years together meaning Jeff and I things have bounced pretty well... We have had our share of fights too and neither of us has won.

Janah said...

Just stopped by from Kat's blog. This post was amazing. And made me actually think about the things I have been saying and doing lately.
'Equality is a concept used by too many to make themselves feel superior to others' - I think I have been just hoping for some appreciation lately, but I keep hiding behind the "things aren't equal around here" line. I keep trying to prove to him that I have been handling a lot of the burden lately.
Then when I read Kat's comment, I realzied that I need to be more understanding that my marriage isn't 50/50 all of the time. I guess I so quickly forget when the scales aren't in my favor. But am quick to jump on him when they are.
Loved this! And I will probably read it a couple more times!

The Griper said...

he smiles with a tinge of red in his cheeks. thank you, janah for such kind words. know this, you are always welcome here. as i told kat, it was her post that inspired it, so i give her and todd the most of the credit.

The Griper said...

yes, tweety, life is full of fights, especially in a marriage. but as the wise BB says, apologize when wrong, keep quiet when right.

Karen Howes said...

Griper, a successful marriage can be summed up in one sentence: the woman is always right.

Once the man realizes this, problem solved! :-P

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