In celebration of LOVE and re-designing marriage

As commercial and contrived as Valentine’s Day can be, it is also a day carved out as one in 365 with a focus on ‘love’. Be that romantic, friendship or familial – it can’t be all that bad right? And so, on this Valentines Day, in celebration of love, I thought I would discuss how I think traditional marriage might be a ‘love killer’ and how re-designing our modern day marriages can inspire love to grow.

LOVE needs to be celebrated in whatever form it presents itself. It just seems to be glaringly obvious to me that if two out of three marriages end in divorce, there must be an inherent malfunction with a ‘structure’ that is supposed to be a container for love, but is somehow failing miserably.

Fairy tales, Hollywood, Mills and Boon and E.L. James have filled us with romantic ideals of the ‘fairytale love, wedding and marriage’. Boy meets girl, they struggle with their internal demons and exes, they conquer it all, fall in love, have lots of awesome sex and live happily ever after. Historically, it has been two heterosexuals who love each other (preferably for the male to be slightly older than the female, of the same culture, same ethnicity, same religion and same ‘class’) to marry. The poor sods who recognized we are spiritual beings having a human experience and who understood that when two souls connect (regardless of the ‘human form’) their love and connection should be celebrated, drew the short straw. Their love has not acceptable and the privilege of ‘marriage’ not bestowed upon them.

Getting ‘married’ and being ‘married’ is, the way things are done around here (if you want to be seen as ‘normal’). In fact, there must surely be something wrong with you if you are not and do not want to get married. It has become a human stage of development that if missed, will cause severe psycho-spiritual damage. Or so we have been misguided.

Only as recent as the past decade (All credit to the South African government for making this possible) have same sex marriages been permitted. Despite the form they were born into (male/female/dark/pale skinned etc) and the belief systems they were molded into (Zulu/Jewish/Hindu/Xhosa etc), many individuals are able to see beyond the packaging and fall in love with the essence of the person in front of them. These brave people- who have eyes that are not limited to seeing only the outside packaging and aren’t restricted in any way by the societal norms imposed on them – are the real vanguards of love.

Given that it has taken over two centuries to allow same sex marriages, inter-faith, inter-racial and polygamists to marry (and that is only for an alarmingly small amount of countries,) how long will we have to wait to recognize other pairings/unities?

The idea that two people who wanted to be together and recognized by the law has meant that we have had to re-design marriage to include something more than old fashioned, out-dated traditional concepts. Marriage is evolving. That is the good news. The form of ‘marriage’ has  evolved somewhat in order to fit into our contemporary, soulful lives. But there is still some way to go.

We have previously defined a good marriage as one that endures over time. Not one that inspires love, joy, transparency or spiritual growth. It is a marital ‘success’ because the housing/structure/form or carcass has survived. The ‘marriage’ as a container, has lasted – despite contaminating and slowly sucking the life out if its inhabitants.  This is one of the reasons it is not working for us anymore. We want more for ourselves that the perceived status that comes with achieving a ‘lifelong marriage’. Especially when it is means we have to remain small in order to fit into the mold.

We want more for ourselves than a co-habiting partner with whom we raise a family. We want to live a life of joy, freedom of expression, expansion, love, transparency and integrity to ourselves. We hope to feel deeply connected to each other and bonded with a cause greater than ourselves. We desire to ‘live our truth’. We expect to feel empowered and fulfilled in our unions. We expect our partners will respect and support us in chasing our dreams. And so, when the rules, regulations and expectations of traditional marriage quashes these contemporary ideas, we end them.  It’s not such a surprise really. Maybe if we had different expectations and more flexible boundaries it would not go so pear shaped.

So if marriage needs evolving, what does ‘redesigning marriage’ look like?

First of all, it is supposed to be container for love so if the container is SO restrictive and SO unbending that is begins to destroy the two people in it; it is not doing its job properly. Marriages need to be redesigned to accommodate the two people in it. Not accommodate one person. It needs to accommodate for the 21st Century for goodness sake. We are not living in the dark ages and yet some of the expectations of marriage seem to come from there. If being with one person for the rest of your life excites, moves and inspires you both then defining how that plays out is up to you. And, what works for one couple does not necessarily work for another. Marriage needs to be customized to suit the two, three, four or more people living in it. Whether that means living in separate homes, including additional lovers, excluding sex completely, re-contracting and re-committing to marital vows every 5 years, swapping gender roles or living with ones extended family, whatever keeps the love alive and spark ignited is a good thing. Just let go of the idea this other person is going to complete you and this spouse is responsible for your happiness. It is not true. You are accountable for your own fulfillment and empowerment in life. Marriage is not going to change that. Expecting that it will, is going to leave you feeling very angry/disappointed.  It is also going to kill the love in your marriage.

Same sex, cross-gender, threesomes, foursomes, cross-generational,  sexless, emotional pairings and social pairings are going to force us to rethink our expectations of one another and what marriage ‘should’ look like. The fairytale image of marriage needs to be stretched and maneuvered to suit us and our lives. Not for us to remain small and repressed in order to ‘fit’ into the marriage mold.

When it comes to love, the soul is not interested in form. The soul connects with whomever it connects. It wants us to love one another, whatever the recipe looks like.

Hollywood needs to help us rethink and recreate the modern day fairytale of ‘love, wedding, marriage’ whereby LOVE is celebrated, regardless of the form it presents itself, and getting wed is not the climax of a shared life together.  Everyday is an opportunity for love. If that includes a contemporary version of marriage, great. If that means never getting married, great. Just make sure you love one another. Don’t let ‘marriage’ get in the way.

Do not go forth and conquer, go forth and love one another.  Today is the day for it.

“The spiritual part of us of each of us will never be fully satisfied by any one human relationship”. Daphne Rose Kingma- The Future of Love.