Over the last several months or year, I feel like I’ve been standing on the edge of a freeway. Cars are zooming into view, some are spinning out of control, and no matter how much I scream, “Slow down! Go a different direction! Steer IN to the skid!” no one can hear me. There’s nothing I can do to stop any of it. Nothing I can do to help. Nothing I can do but watch the cars collide and stack on top of one another.
Since I can’t prevent the accidents, I try to set up a triage station. I try to help the injured and guide them back to places where maybe they’ll feel better. But I think most of them just nod and walk away with wounds gaping. They will get back into their cars bruised and broken and maybe they will go out and get into a dozen more accidents.
It’s hard to watch. It makes me wonder if crashing is inevitable.
It makes me wonder if marriage is really just an out-of-control vehicle that’s destined to hit walls and hurt people. It makes me wonder if we’re keeping an institution on life support that should be allowed to pass away quietly. It makes me wonder if it is at all possible to stay on a safe, sturdy path and not flip upside-down if you choose to say “I do.”
Even the marriages that look healthy and happy on the outside raise questions. Maybe there are things we don’t see. Maybe someone is hiding something. I don’t know. I don’t know if people stay together because they’re afraid to be alone—or if being together really is gratifying.
My parents have a marriage I’d like to model fairly closely. I have no memories of big, terrible fights. Nobody ever called each other names or walked out on one another. Nobody questioned their feelings. Or maybe they did, and I just never knew.
It seems like there are steps you can take to avoid going off course and smacking into a line of trees. It seems like the accidents should be preventable. That if you truly, honestly, 100% respect each other, and you’re truly 100% passionate about each other, and you’re truly 100% certain of who you are as an individual, maybe just maybe you can forge a life together that works. But I just don’t know.
I don’t want to lose my faith in the idea of marriage. But typing that makes me think, is it really I who doesn’t want to lose faith, or has society conditioned me to think I should keep the faith. How much of what we all think and feel is based on antiquated notions of the way things should be?
As much as friends and family tell me how they can’t wait to see me engaged, I hear them make sarcastic remarks like, “this is what you have to look forward to,” and even, “you should just be smart and become a lesbian.”
Is it possible anymore to have a good marriage? Was it ever possible? Or does the majority of the population just not know what they’re missing? Do they stay in situations because they think they’re supposed to—or that what they have is as good as it gets, when really there might be something out there a million times better.
I don’t know. I don’t know anything. I just know that it’s incredibly hard to watch the people around me keep crashing. It’s hard not to wonder if one day I’ll skid into the pile-up, too.