A WARPED LOOK AT MARRIAGE…(ps: Not to be taken seriously of course)
Marriage is a funny institution. Some may even find it ironic. Here’s a thought experiment, however estranged. How nice it would be if one could reduce marriage to just knowing someone, befriending her thereafter, and then embarking on a pleasant vacation as a form of unofficial honeymoon, and after all that, exchanging telephone numbers and then going their separate ways amicably until the urge to resume contact returns again... No commitment whatsoever. No strings attached. How nice eh?
Because if you see it the way Abraham Lincoln saw it, you will sense a twinge of resignation in his otherwise stellar marital commitment. “Marriage,” so commented Abe, “is neither heaven nor hell; it is simply purgatory.” At least, the 16th president of the United States minced his words a little by not referencing marriage to hell. But you roughly get his drift on how tough marriage can be.
To the young romantics or the airy-fairy newly-weds, maybe a little persuasion from Michel de Montaigne would come in handy before they take the plunge. The eminent French philosopher once wrote, “Marriage is like a cage; one sees the birds outside desperate to get in, and those inside equally desperate to get out.” Now that is someone who throws the whole chunk of crap meat at you without mincing it.
You see, the reality of marriage is akin to cold raw meat because of the dreaded sin of over-familiarity. If absence makes the heart grow fonder, then constant in-your-face presence may just stop it for good. For your digest, the subtle words of the Prime Minister of UK Benjamin Disraeli are rather instructive, “It destroys one’s nerves to be amiable every day to the same human being.”
The acerbity is not tempered here when the words of the comedian, writer and producer Carol Leifer are considered, “Sex when you’re married is like going to a 7-Eleven. There’s not as much variety, but at three in the morning, it’s always there.” If you read in between the lines, the operative word in that quote is “it’s always there.” Just like a penniless, annoying uncle coming over to crash your love pad.
Maybe, like bees to honey, marriage is an unavoidable institution. No idealistic youth, bursting at the seams with passion and lust, can resist it. It is like the most attractive honey trap ever conceived because it is sold with a brochure promising one night of lavished celebration coupled with a weekend of unbridled and even mindless consummation. What is there not to like about this awesome union?
But for many couples, the proof is often in the pudding. And for those who are fighting in a bitter divorce, the pudding is often more sour than sweet. Sometimes the pudding may even turn rotten to the core. These words by the king of late night TV show Johnny Carson make somewhat the same point but in his characteristic bitter-sweet irony, “Married men live longer than single men. But married men are a lot more willing to die.”
In the end, I guess some couples would have to live a pretentious life in order to sedate themselves from the monotony of monogamy. If you think about it, this is no less a tragedy of sorts because of the highfalutin declaration of the marriage vows. Till death do us part is often interpreted by the impenitent cynic as this, “we just have to pretend that we like each other even if it kills us.”
On this point, I think the famed playwright Oscar Wilde had it all covered when he penned these words, “The only charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception necessary for both parties.” In case you pretended not to hear that, here’s another quote from the witty American journalist H.L. Mencken to hit you between the eyes, “A man may be a fool and not know it – but not if he is married.”
I guess I have come to my tethered end. If there should be a conclusion befitting of the wry tenor of what I have written here, it would be this: The institution of marriage is often the stoic warden in a prison-like sentence binding two unwitting souls together whose only offense is the crime of passion. And as a watchful warden, the couple must accept the sometimes harsh discipline that he metes out. If the couple survive it, then good for them.
If not, alas, then allow these words by the great philosopher Socrates to be your soul provider, “By all means marry; if you get a good wife, you’ll be happy. If you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.” Now, that’s quite a bargain if you are not too fussy. Cheerz.