Friday, 9 March 2012

The Year in Which I Was Supposed to Get Married

When I was young I always imagined an ideal age for getting married. This year, in a short time, that age will have arrived. Any earlier than this age, I had always thought, is too early; one is too immature. At this particular age I am supposed to be sufficiently mature to take on the responsibilities of husband and father, or so I thought. But having reached it, I realize that it is not a fear of responsibility that prevents me from getting hitched. It has more to do with having waited too long. As time went by I've become more and more independent. I especially realized it with my X—when she in one conversation said to me that I do not need her. While I did not admit it to her out loud, I knew she was correct. Had she pushed me on the topic I would have had to admit: “Yes, I do not need you. I do not need another person to be a complete and fulfilled human being.”

I've always felt that a healthy relationship is not one where two people “complete” each other. Rather, it is two whole people that come together, find each other compatible, and in their respective wholeness create synergy together. However, for such people to come together and create such synergy, they have to at least have a longing—a need—for such companionship. But here is the thing, I do not feel particularly lonely and if I'm truly honest with myself then my occasional longing is more based on lust, than on an urge for companionship.

Yes, there are moments, infrequent moments, when I travel in some exotic place and have some novel experience or enjoy some exquisite scene; in such moments I do feel a need to share these pleasures with a loved one. But a friend could be an equally suitable substitute, maybe even more so than a lover. In any case, such moments are a handful a year. Hardly a big enough issue to make me even search for a travel companion. When I've set my mind on something, be it traveling to another country or watching a movie at the local cinema, I'm not going to wait around for someone else before I do it.

Where does this leave me? Over the last two or three years I've started to consider life as a perpetual bachelor. I'm at an age in my life where I feel a need to think about my eventual old age, about retirement, and so on. I have began looking into retirement options, particularly countries to retire in. One has to start early on such things, you cannot wait until old age have caught you off guard. If you are going to retire somewhere, it's better to settle into the place sometime before your actual date of retirement. In searching for such places, some points of concern have come up. There are particular questions that I ask myself: Is this country, this city, this neighborhood old-person friendly? Are there good medical services? Are they easily accessible for a weak old person that lives alone? Can an old person easily get by on the public transportation system? How far will my retirement savings stretch here? These are the questions of a single person; of someone that has come to terms with the possibility of staying unmarried.

Yet, it is not that I am in principle against marriage. I think marriage can be a wonderfully beautiful thing. If I were to meet a person that is compatible to my idiosyncrasies, someone who shares a similar world view, similar values, someone with whom I also feel a sexual connection, then I could imagine myself in such a unity. The problem is just that because I do not feel incomplete as I am at present, I do not feel a particular drive to go out and search for someone that may or may not be “the one.”

Someone told me the other day that because I have so many good friends their combined force fulfill all my relationship needs. I may be a little bit sexually frustrated (friends and sex have never mixed very well for me), but that is not enough reason for me to get married. Taking on a serious relationship just for the sex is a very superficial and selfish reason—dare I say, even an immoral reason—to engage in a serious relationship. I have good friends, it is true. I feel very blessed for it, and do not take them for granted. She could be right. Since I do have many good friends, I feel enough love from my loved ones, that I do not feel a need to for such love from a single source.

It would have been easy if I could blame someone or something: my parents or my circumstances that forced me into early independence, causing me to think of dependency on others as a weakness. One of the big expectations I have of myself is that I should not be a burden on someone. In one sense it is a ridiculous expectation as I do not hold other people to this standard. If one cares for someone, such burdens, though difficult, is something you carry with gladly. A mother that nurtures a terminally ill child sees her duties not as an unbearable burden, but as an act of love. While difficult, love makes it unthinkable not to carry the burden. In similar manner I also try to carry the “burden” of those I love when circumstances call for it. Why do I not want to allow another to carry the same burden for me?

Is this then part of the problem? Don't I think myself worthy to be a burden—worthy of love? Worthy of devotion? It irritates me, to be honest. While I enjoy flattery just as much as the next guy, devotion—overt, ardor of the romantic kind—irks me. I've even said it to a lady once while I was sick and she attempted to take care of me: “Stop mothering me!” Am I just suffering from a form of manly pride that sees the acceptance of such care as weakness. In other words, am I too proud to accept the complete care of a spouse? Of this one has to be careful! There is a reason the Christian thinkers through the ages concur that pride is the worst of sins.

Yet, is the mere existence of this essay not a testament to the fact that at least one part of me wonders about the possibility of a romantic, synergy evoking companionship? Clearly it is issue enough for me to take the time to contemplate it and put electronic ink to digital paper.

I'm going on a date next week. I have few expectations. I'm just going for the fun of it. Now that I've moved my Tuesday night Taekwon-Do training to Monday nights, I have the night free to enjoy other things. Going on a date sounds like a good way to enjoy a Tuesday night. It will be a couple of days after my birthday—in the year in which I was supposed to get married.


Christine said...

I used to think I would have been married a long time ago. I so think one thing that has prevented my getting married is that I was always stuck on the idea of finding a man from the same denomination. The denomination is small, so that reduces the amount of potential partners. I have noticed that many of the adherents no longer expect to find a partner of the exact same religious affiliation. It was something that was pounded into myself and others for many years, that in order to have a good home you have to find someone of the same religious background.
I had longed for marriage so badly. Yet I also wonder if I will ever get married. So many people I know of are unhappy in their marriages. Some of those people were so thrilled to meet their partner and couldn't wait to get married. They seemed so happy, and then in a few years everything soured. I think too many people have unrealistic expectations when they enter marriage. They could be anything, but one common belief is that the partner will complete them and help make them what they can be. They expect success, happiness, and fulfillment to come from someone else. People also can't change someone. "I love you, now change" is a foolish thing to think.
I also know I'm worried about being tied down and not being able to persue my interests. I am not one to stay home a lot.
Since childhood I dreamed of heading overseas to do humanitarian work, and even now I keep getting bombarded with sayings such as "shouldn't you just stay home and find a husband?", "how could you go alone?", etc.
I finally have realized that I don't need to have a romantic relationship in order to fulfill goals in my life. I don't want to throw away my dreams (like many women do) on a man.
I do think I will head back overseas again soon. I don't know if I'll live in Korea again. I may be there for the World's Fair later this year in Yeosu.

Skryfblok said...

Yip, I also had that idea that one needs to be of the same religious orientation. This idea is slowly changing within myself as well. I have friends and family who are married outside of their faith, and seem to be very happy. A part of me is reluctant, but another side says that if we both allow each other the freedom, then maybe that's the path to pursue.

I'm also looking forward to the World Fair. I missed the one in China and am happy that a smaller version is coming to Korea.