You may recognise the title of this blog post from ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ by Oscar Wilde. I think most of us know how complicated his sex life was. Whether you are talking about a Victorian writer, an Egyptian Queen or the bloke next door to you, the concept of marriage is a fallacy. It proclaims ownership and honouring one’s partner, but rarely do those words mean anything, especially when the figures now suggest 1 in 4 married couples experience infidelity.
Time and time again on sites like Loveshack I read about married partners discovering their husband or wife’s long-standing infidelity. Sometimes it’s just been the one. For others it goes back decades with multiple partners. And it is why I don’t believe in what marriage implies or what it is supposed to do, which is to bind two people together through thick and thin until one of them dies.
Humans are not monogamous creatures, whether married or partnered. Relationships are fluid. People change, their ideologies change, their wants change and the premise that they should have to stick together through that because of what a law decrees and what society decrees, seems daft to me. Entire lifetimes are wasted by people who should not be together but do so for outside reasons.
I go into all my relationships these days, well aware that things can and will change. They are about journeys, learning and experience, not destinations. I like to know the expected outcome from the start and keep an open mind as to how that changes. If there are limitations because one person is married, or because, like me, falling in love with someone is not the preferred outcome, then that should always be discussed. Relationships with married people are, and should always be, an agreement with boundaries set and realistic outcomes discussed.
The idea that these new couples will eventually be happy ever after seems to pervade, but very very very rarely does this happen. More often than not, the married partner actually doesn’t want to take apart their life and start again with someone new. They just needed to fill a gap in the existing one, or inject some variety into an otherwise routine life. Sometimes the two halves of a marriage can go their separate ways in practice, but in reality they keep things together for children, for extended families, for public image, or for financial reasons. And there’s no reason to chastise someone for wanting to preserve any of those things.
Part of the problem seems to be that everyone thinks marriage is the destination. That it’s the big prize. That everything else is incidental. All life is a journey and marriage is just the start of a whole lifetime of work, negotiation, highs, lows, trials and tribulations. I tried it once, and it didn’t work for me. I will openly admit that I am a quitter. So far, I haven’t been in a relationship that I really wanted to fight for, because I knew the other person wasn’t fighting alongside me and because I don’t need a relationship that much.
Know your limitations, and go into things with your eyes wide open.