Mixed Salad of Thoughts

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Marriage/Commitment/American Dream/Chastity

Why has the status of marriage sunk so low that we believe we can get by with on-the-job training rather than years of disciplined study and growth?

A friend of mine was talking to me recently when she said this:

"So anyways monogamous bliss isn't so blissful all the time"....."in fact it lacks a little spice".
So today I was on a Myspace group page with a bunch of Baha'is talking about chastity and I came across some interesting views and a cool analogy that reminded me of her words

Here are some excerpts from the discussion:
[sex has] become totally MATERIAL. People are viewing the material in a significant other before anything else, thus they idolize it....sex becomes another activity, a material activity like any other - one to explore and take lighter than these standards [the standards of chastity and upright behavior set by religion].

It's like food. If you visit cultures where they eat the same thing everyday, they are not discontent with that at all. They never say, "oh I wish I had a different food". Of course not, because they don't know of different food, they are comfortable with what they have. Likewise if you try to get them to eat something totally foreign, they would be compelled to eat what their diet is used to. However, if you or I were asked to eat the same thing every day, we couldn't take it. Why? Because we are so used to having something new all the time.
I don't know if it's just having something NEW, we're used to having sweet, and savory, and spicy. We try it all, and we can't imagine life without dessert. If and when there aren't limits (such as weight gain, cost, and societal norms) governing us we tend to overindulge and gorge ourselves on these things. (I know I would live on chocolate, cheesecake, dr.pepper, and fatty cheeses and sugary desserts forever if I could). But take a poor child in Africa and ask them the last time they "ordered" dessert, or gorged themselves on cheeses or chocolates. Perhaps it is not their CHOICE whether or not to eat these indulgent foods, but in their world they do not yearn for them either, or miss them the way I would if they were taken from me.

How different are the pleasures of "the flesh" from the pleasures, desires, and cravings of palette? Do our actions create our cravings?
It is the same is with our "romantic relationships" in the West. We are surrounded with it in this society. Not just in practice, but in how there is just an exaggerated emphasis put on it in society. It is very very very VERY difficult then, to go from having all of that [liberty, variety and sexual freedoms], to going to a stable monogamous relationship. People get discontent so fast with another, and no longer wish to stay in [the relationship], then go off and find something else.

There were days in this country where the focus from the beginning of a young person's life was to find a good partner and then marry them. That was the dream. What was the classic tale of the 50's? Marry your high school sweetheart.
Today it seems that dream has been contorted into something where most people believe it is normal, expected, and ideal to:
-have a sexually adventurous life while young and "free",
-become emotionally and financially independant, and
-get some great toys,
and then you will settle down and have kids when you find someone who complements you (sexually, financially, and socially).

If this truly is to end up in marriage and child rearing, this is not only an improbable dream, it is set up for failure, as the things one would need for the end result are not taught through the practices at the beginning and indeed, the opposite values and needs and desires would be nurtured and grown.

Would you expect to become a CFO by
-taking many short term jobs,
-dating a lot of people and
-shopping yourself into debt?

No... why not? Because in order to become a CFO you must not only prove yourself to the people that will hire you, but you must spend years to develop your skills. Those skills being nurtured by
-long-term employment and responsibility,
-relationship building and management skills, and
-financial planning skills.

THIS is why CFOs are more likely to have had longer term employment, be married or in a stable relationship, and be personally financially sound. Not because they became a CFO and then found these things, but because they became the sort of person that would have the qualities necessary for being a successful CFO and eventually became one.

So why would one think that

-having a sexually adventurous life,
-becoming emotionally and financially independant, and
-getting great toys

would prepare them to be a suitable spouse... Where

-shared finances and an emotionally co-depentant relationship, and
-a bit of sacrafice and restraint in your buying in order to save for children and future expenses

is going to be important.

Could you be a great CFO without the work experiences? Maybe. Could you be a great spouse without the experiences that help you develop skills for being a successful partner? Maybe. But do you really think the person who has been at many short-term, low-responsibility jobs will adjust easily to the pressures, hours, and responsibilities of a C-Level position? Do you really think what we (of the West) seem to consider "ideal" for a young person today is really best preparing them for a married life?

Why has marriage been alloted to the type of low-status ideal that has on-the-job training? Might lack of training, be why it also has 50% turnover rate?

Why do Americans spend millions of dollars reading self-help books to find out how to "make things work" and develop better timesaving, business, organizing, and managing skills and so little time or energy becoming more loving, more nurturing, more kind, more giving...becoming the kind of person who is READY for a loving relationship and that can raise intelligent, thoughtful, creative, and loving children?

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Blogger Trope said...

Hey Val! The answer to your question is Delaware, OH.

I found this logical progression really interesting; as someone who's struggling with her next career move, I got a little distracted by the CFO analogy but I got back on track. (grin) I'd like to do a roundup tomorrow and post my response then.

11:17 PM  
Anonymous Lacey said...

Really great thoughts here, Valerie. In hindsight, I see now that following the laws of our Faith ultimately guide us into being the people God wants us to be. I wish I could tell younger Baha'is that now...you may not understand why your will is counter to your Faith, but you have to trust it. It's really for your future self that you're doing (or not doing) these things. Thanks again for posting this!

10:03 AM  

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