Marriage Mirage

Marriage!  Oh!  How my opinion has changed on this subject over the past two decades of my life!  So much has happened.  To me…To my friends and family members…To the students I teach…To co-workers…To friends of my children…To parents of my friends…Even society itself, finally allowing same sex marriages!  I have really learned so much.  Heard so much.  Experienced so much.  And lived so much.  Marriage is really just a mirage.  The longer I am on this earth circling the sun, the more I realize I know nothing and should never judge anyone or anything.  Especially other people’s relationships!

Over the past 20 years I’ve witnessed many of the marriages that I attended in my early twenties crumble.  It happens at all stage of marriage.  I’ve known some marriages to last only a few months…not even a year!  I’ve also witnessed people who move on from marriage after their children are grown and have grandchildren.  There seems to be no time constraint on the dissolving of a marriage…it just happens.

On the other side of the coin, I’ve heard of many people who just stay in their relationship for the children.  I know of others that stay under the same roof but sleep in separate beds.  Then there are open marriages that are always scutinized.  And I know of many marriages that have worked through infidelity.  There are few…if any… “normal” marriages anymore…or what I had imagined a normal marriage to be when I was younger.  Marriage is more of a mirage.  An optical illusion to anyone that is not in that particular marriage.  A fantasy for the couple in the relationship.

But who are we to define what is normal?  What right do we have to give people advice on a subject so fragile?  Something that is really happening to them only.  It’s their mirage.  Did you realize that loneliness has become the number one epidemic in America even above obesity!  Crazy right?  They have deemed this the number one public health crisis now.  Loneliness.  And how many of your reading this blog are feeling some degree of loneliness?  Every living thing straddles the ideas of stability and change.  We all want the stability of a relationship.  We love the familiar, the known and the comfortable.  But we are also changing and we crave this in our lives…most marriage don’t really foster this need.  I know I have definitely changed tremendously since I was first married in my mid-twenties.

Interestingly, I discovered from studying different religions that, from the Buddhist point of view, marriage is neither holy nor unholy.  Buddhism doesn’t put any religious label on marriage and doesn’t make it out to be this divine intervention that is ordained in heaven.  Buddhists also believe in non-attachment because nothing is permanent and we aren’t supposed to let ourselves get attached…but try not attaching yourself to your children, or your parents, or anyone you truly feel you love…I think it is impossible, but this is the Buddhists’ practice!

Did you know that the Buddhists only have a 10% divorce rate?  Maybe they are onto something.  Their practice of a relationship also includes that of impermanence. Their view is that nothing last forever…which is true…not even a marriage.  All relationships come to an end…they either break-up or die.  This is inevitable.  They realize that marriage is a mirage.  Maybe we should take on this mindset too?  Realize that nothing is permanent and stay in the now with your relationships.  Life is all about change.

I like the teaching of Esther Perel, a marriage counselor who says that we will go through approximately three marriages in our lifetime.  We can have three marriages to three different people or we can have three marriages all to the same person.  It is our choice.  Either way we have to recognize that we all change and that this is totally ok.

I love Eckhart Tolle and his book the Power of Now.  He explains the importance of staying in the now and realizing that everything is happening for a reason.  “Life will give you whatever experience is the most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness.”  Remember life is happening for you…not to you.

Every relationship has to stay in the now and let what is going to happen, happen.  Instead of setting crazy expectations for this institution, have more of a Buddhist mindset and realize that nothing is permanent and we should not attach to anything.  When it comes to other people’s relationship journey don’t judge whatever is happening and provide the support, love and kindness that everybody in this society so desperately needs.  Kill the loneliness and kill the judgement.  That could be you or a family member some day.  Who knows.  It’s all just a mirage.

As far as your relationship realize what works for you, doesn’t have to work for anyone else.  It’s your mirage.  Enjoy it.  Embrace it…and don’t let anyone make you feel bad about anything you chose to do along your fantasy.  Especially yourself!  We can be our own worst enemies.