Thursday, May 27

Desert Island Spouse

As all good theories about marriage come about this one was also born over a home cooked dinner with a bunch of clever mates. Although it doesn't matter much to the content of this post, this idea did come about during a meal in South Africa. I guess there's no holiday for marriage talk.

The question was regarding how to know if someone was right for you. That you "just know" wasn't really good enough, especially during a time when people already married for a few years who also "just knew" are also claiming that they should have "known better". Faced with this question, I offered the desert island test.

The trick would be to find someone with whom you could live on a desert island, alone. A remote mountain also works, but the point is that you would have no other worldly inputs or distractions. You would grow your own food, and work to live rather than getting your name on a business card or magazine, and the goings on of anything outside of the island would not be of any concern to you. Your only interactive input and output would be with your partner (and maybe a pet hamster).

Would you get bored in this situation? Or for those who are already married, could you survive under such conditions?

What I was essentially trying to do was to normalise relationships, and remove the guff that many of us think contributes to one, but doesn't really. On a desert island, it really is the person who matters and nothing else. Of course in this day and age it's an unrealistic test, but the idea itself tends to frighten the hell out of some people.

As soppy and naive as it sounds, there was once a time when for the typical Joe and Jane on the street the only thing that mattered in life was to find a good partner (where "good" means many things) and raise a family with them. That's really just about it and everything else, including jobs or pastimes, were just incidental. But increasingly nowadays marriage isn't about finding someone around whom your world revolves, but instead someone who fits in with your already defined sense of self and individuality. We now want someone to add and enhance the lives we have already built or are building and marriage is now merely one part of many which makes up who a person is: so X is now a successful, smart intelligent and strong person who, as an aside, happens to also be married to Y.

Things like obedience and devotion are now seen as weaknesses, signs that a person isn't an individual. We now have to think about ensuring our survival without relying on the people we've committed to, and as such partners are no longer necessary to complete ourselves. There was a time when phrases like "she's at the centre of my universe" and "we were made for each other" where in common use, when women would dream about taking on the surnames of the guy they were in love with. And when they eventually did cement their relationship, as long as these people had each other nothing else mattered to them. But alas it seems that these concepts have now been relegated to unrealistic or outdated ideas or fictional romanticism (I'm looking at you, Twilight). It's not that this state is unachievable, but more that it's undesirable.

However I'm not suggesting that society has it wrong. What goes into a good and strong relationship, and indeed what a relationship is, evolves over time and means different things as we progress. In that sense the desert island test is simply just out of date, something which refers to a highly idealised and possibly over-demanding view of marriage and romance that has no place in this day and age.

That said I certainly don't think reaching such a state is impossible in this day and age - looking at the popularity of stuff like Twilight (spit) anyone would think that old fashioned romance is all anyone wants. I guess the trick to a happy relationship is, as always, to find the one person who has the same view and needs of hooking up, getting married and becoming a spouse as you do, no matter what level of involvement that actually entails.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, i could happily live on a desert island with my hubs :-D *swwoonnss* never even thought of it like that.

    word verification is THWIN :-D