A lot of people ask me if I knew my husband before I got married. I sometimes lie, sometimes lash out with the truth and sometimes leave enough nuggets of obscure information that will make for some charming investigative journalism for these solvers of mysteries. But if truth be told, I wasn’t supposed to end up with my husband. I was actually wasn’t even supposed to be married. But married I am to my husband and since this isn’t a huge event therefore I haven’t explored it on this blog but because we are talking about it, I think a little firsthand experience as a forewarning is always so good to leave behind as our legacy.
My I had thought, growing up, that I’ll go to medical school and get a degree as a physician and mind my own business in the depths of a dingy office where I’ll see women who are impregnated by this misfortune or that. I had always imagined my life to be a split between colossal drudgery with moments of orgasmic bliss that I’d experience if I was just given my favorite flavor in ice cream accidentally by the street vendor. Beyond this, I didn’t aspire to much. I didn’t hope for a lot. And I certainly didn’t imagine to be married. Marriage, in my opinion, was something that happened to people who had the time for it, or the bandwidth.
But it is surprising how a woman can continue to create the bandwidth for things that she absolutely abhorred once. Feminism, the very program that my parents raised me on, didn’t make it past slogans and passionate speeches in my household either. As soon as I was 18 and looked like I could get into medical school, everyone suggested that I should be paired off and matched up.
This process isn’t as easy as you might think. A woman has to kiss many frogs from a distance to discover the toad she is going to make hers. And the mission doesn’t end there. Once you sign up to be Mrs. Toad, many things that you once aspired to be can go up in wisps of pond smog.
In my case, I didn’t give up a lot. Maybe a little dignity, self-esteem, private time, hair and the fluidity of my non-binary self. But I did get into medical school and for a brief moment, even took care of women as they labored for children that they had never wanted.
A lot of material on this blog comes across as anti-marriage. I get it! When women have been taught to revere the biggest patriarchal institution, any account of this so-called institution that’s not savory is perceived as rebellious and unworthy of expression.
But my musings on marriage or committed monogamy aren’t because I am not enjoying my relationship. It’s because I have realized, through time and the tests of time, that marriage alone can’t answer all my problems. It actually adds a few problems of its own.
I had to get married, I now realize, to understand the vices of marriage. The further glorification of already-glorified acts and processes like marriage, parenthood, relationships, education, health, family isn’t in favor of human evolution. Accepting status quo is not how we are expected to grow. Shaking the system and in some cases, questioning the purported stability of the system, helps us grow more.
So I wouldn’t have been here, a place where I can criticize the very phenomenon of marriage that was sold to me many years ago, if I hadn’t experienced it and evaluated it. I think evaluating it with a single-minded but essentially mindless commitment to its unchallenged sanctity hasn’t helped women. It has made us fall deeper into the pits of the patriarchy.
Sometimes, lessons don’t come to us in form of books or quotes or words of wisdom from our elders. Some of the most lasting lessons came from my own experiences. It’s a brutal exercise, I understand. It’s also unnecessary. Women shouldn’t have to experience marriage to know what it can and can’t do for them. There should be enough truthful documentation of it around us that we can draw our conclusions without risking our lives.
Would I have been a woman in the patriarchy dying to get married if I hadn’t been married? Chances are that I would’ve been. Marriage has been so glamorized that I would’ve been wanting it despite all the sad and bad marriages around me. Mine would be different, I’d have thought. These women don’t know what they’re doing, I’d be righteous.
But am I instead a woman living the patriarchy by being married? Yes! That’s also true. I have realized that understanding how we conform to the patriarchy by being married is important for women to get further in our aspirations. And if some of you say that we can be married to men and still have marriages that aren’t patriarchal, I agree with you. I agree that there can be marriages that don’t have a power gradient. But what I have learned in my journey is that just because there isn’t a power gradient today doesn’t mean that if ever there is one, it wouldn’t automatically favor the patriarch in our marriages.