Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Life (or something like it)

So when I created this blog, I didn't intend for it to become an inherently political blog. However, since I have a penchant for politics, it usually tends to be an easy and interesting topic for discussion.

But here I will take a break from politics, and go back to the original goal of this blog which was to examine the interesting, and often odd, routes that our lives take as we attempt to live them out with some sort of normalcy.
It may not bode well for me, but for some reason the quote "the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation" seems depressingly accurate. I'm not saying that I personally live a life of quiet desperation, or that I'm pointing fingers at anyone else, but it seems the modern standard of "making it" or "settling down" has less to do with success and happiness, and more to do with simply spending time with your family; not even necessarily quality time, just time.
As an unmarried man, childless man, I have a freedom to spend time with my friends whenever they're free, and pretty much participate in whatever activity they're interested in doing. Now, I don't expect life to be exactly the same once I get married, and especially once I have kids, but I've never understood this phenomenon of men (and women) essentially disappearing from their lives with their friends, and only seeing them on a very infrequent and time-sensitive basis. There's always one person that dominates marriage relationships, and that person's friends inevitably become the other person's friends (by default); the friends of the other person just fall by the wayside, and are only see sporadically, and it's usually when the dominating person it out of town, or spending the day with one of their close friends.
(Just to clarify, I'm not disparaging my friends, and I'm not referring to anyone in particular, I'm rather highlighting what I consider to be an unfortunate phenomenon.)
Back to the quote above: I consider this phenomenon of people (often men) losing their individuality and friends once they become part of a relationship - especially a serious relationship - to be rather disconcerting, and to be not only a factor, but a MAJOR factor in the high incidence of infidelity and divorce. Men and women cannot get everything they need from one relationship; they can get sex, love, intimacy, friendship, and much more, but that's still not everything. Men and women have friends in the first place because those friends share their interests, and so they can talk about things and enjoy things together that others are not necessarily privvy to.
Most life partner relationships involve some aspect of this (and should), but that still doesn't mean that one doesn't need any outside contact or relationships. In fact, in that situation, just the opposite of what would be expected to happen is probably happening. The people think they're in a perfect relationship because they have so many shared interests, but fail to recognize that no one person can provide anybody with everything, and therefore there are still pieces of you that are not being nurtured.
All in all, I'm terribly troubled by the fact that so many relationships go down this road. It starts with not being able to stay out all night, because the spouse/girfriend/boyfriend expects you home. Then it's not being able to hang out because the spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend wants to hang out with other couples. Then you can't hang out because there is housework to do. And then you start making excuses for why you can't do things, because it's just easier than dealing with any blowback coming from the spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend for hanging out. And all of this is before kids even come into the mix. It's easy to see how this scenario causes people (especially men) to lead lives of quiet desperation.


Naomi said...

From my Family Systems class today
"of all dilemas of the life cycle, the existential dilemma of coupling is probably the most difficult interpersonally. Marriage is the only family relationship we swear is both exclusive and forever, and it is the family relationship least likely to be either"- Monica McGoldrick (2010)

mpm210 said...

That quote is very interesting and accurate, but also rather depressing.

Christine H. said...

I still think you can make marriage or a partnership be whatever you want. We not only do a lot of things separately, we often go on one-week or two-week trips without the other. This works really well for us, because we have a few common interests, but a lot more that aren't shared. But then again, I never ever had that desire to be joined at the hip.

What we do find though, is that as soon as our friends have children, the schedule changes and they are hardly ever available...and then they tend to gravitate towards other people who have children. It means that if you remain childless your circle of 'old friends' is likely to diminish.