Monday, February 26, 2007

A nice note from the Mystery Cookie on Marriage and Parenthood


Things have certainly changed a lot since my parents were young. My mom got married when she was eighteen and had her first child a year later. And the same was true for her siblings.

Today it seems like marriage gets pushed off further and further.

I'm guilty myself. Here I sit at the ripe ol' age of 35 with the possibility of marriage still a distant prospect. Like so many others I originally blamed my pursuit of higher education and then more recently my career.

But I still think about marriage. It usually goes something like this, "Why would I want to get married?"

From a purely selfish perspective there doesn't seem to be much in it for me. I would have to share my bed, my paltry savings, and my time. The idea of sharing my space is also a tough one.

So why would I do that when I could just date and get most of the benefits without the long term downsides?

After all, if a person never marries then they'll never get divorced. Right?

Well, there are some things about marriage that are different than simply having a boyfriend or girlfriend. In most countries marriage implies a special type of commitment and responsibility.

I know, two things most men avoid like the plague.

And perhaps that is why so many marriages fail. I think we've lost an understanding of what marriage means and the sacrifices required. It's not all fun.

It's often sacrifice!

For males it means we can't sleep with every girl that crosses our path. And that is one that trips up a lot of well meaning males, because biologically we're attracted to just about every female that crosses our paths.

Although most married men won't admit it.

And being "responsible" is a novel concept for many of us. That means we cannot just spend all of our money on stuff we want since there might be the needs of others to consider.

Although a few of my friends got married but still spent their money as if nothing had changed.

And then there are kids to consider. And that is a lifelong consideration, because if they're anything like me they will do everything in their power to put off adulthood until it's forced upon them.

Although I didn't have this luxury, many of my classmates had their entire education paid for by their parents. And some moved back home for a few years. And it goes on and on.

At least back in the day you could put the kids to good use by sending them out into the fields. Today they're an economic drain from the moment they're born until the moment the parent passes on. ;-)

And what kind of thanks do parents get for a lifetime of sacrifice? Which reminds me, I should probably send a thank you note to my parents.

And that is why I consider marriage and parenthood a noble calling. I don't mean the act of creating a child, but the lifelong effort of raising and supporting a child. It's a selfless act that should be respected and honored in our society.

Parents are heroes.

I know there are people who had no business being a parent and the children suffered. But the vast, vast majority of parents did a pretty good job. I know, because I've met a lot of you.

But why did so many marriages fail despite the kids turning out okay?

Nobody wants to take the blame for a failed marriage. It's always the other persons fault. But maybe too many of us enter into marriage with the mentality of a child and expect to "get" and not "give".

That seems normal since we're given so much by our parents.

So the next question I have to ask myself is whether I am the kind of person who can put the needs of someone else before my own. Even if it means I might not always get the benefit of a "thank you" at the end of day. If not, then I risk becoming another divorce statistic.

But when was the last time two generous people focused on helping each other gave up?

Food for thought.

-Mystery Cookie

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