Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The marriage decision

For a few years I have been writing a letter weekly to my teenage granddaughter. I think that probably most teenagers need all of the emotional and spiritual help that they can get. I write. She does not reply, but I know that she reads the letters. Here is an excerpt from last week’s letter concerning her plans to marry Douglas.

You know the set of questions that I have offered to you at each of your last couple of birthdays? (You can expect the questions to come again in a couple of weeks with this next birthday.) It looks like it is time for another set of questions that you need to answer for yourself (and nobody else needs to know) about you and marriage.

This is not about Douglas (though he too should have a list of questions that he needs to answer), it is about you only V.

1) Will marriage bring you more or less happiness?
  • How?
  • In what specific ways? List more than one, more than five.
2) Will marriage bring you more or less security?
  • Financial security?
  • Physical security?
  • Emotional security?
3) Are you willing to give up looking at, flirting with other hot men?
4) How long do you expect this marriage to last?
  • Are you intending to not ever give up on it “until death do you part?”
  • Or do you see it as a marriage “as long as it works for us?”
  • Or “as long as it works for me?”
5) What are the boundaries, the limits, that you would refuse to allow to happen and still keep the marriage?
  • If Douglas has affairs with other women?
  • With men?
  • If Douglas gets violent with you, beats you, causes you physical harm?
  • If Douglas contracts cancer next year and loses half of his weight, and his job, and you have to work enough jobs to keep you both alive?
  • You find a guy that is rich, hot, handsome, who wants you?
6) What freedoms are you giving up when you marry Douglas?
  • Your mornings alone, or evenings alone?
  • Friends that you like but that you know that Douglas does not like?
  • The schooling, education, college, that you hope to have for yourself?
7) What is it about you that Douglas finds so good that he wants you all to himself?
8) What parts of you is Douglas allowing you to share with others?
  • Emotional (Will Douglas be “okay with” you going to a friends residence and crying about a huge disappointment in your life like the death of a loved one or a hurt that Douglas caused you?)
  • Physical (can you kiss another man as a friend?)
  • Financial (a friend wants to borrow $200 from you)

V, have you read into any of this that I disapprove of you marrying Douglas? I hope that you have not thought that. The decision for you to marry Douglas is completely, 100%, your decision. (And Douglas gets the same right, 100% his decision). I have tried to tell other people that I love, at other times in my life, that the person they were intending to marry was not right for them, or that that person was right for them. Through the “school of hard knocks” I’ve learned that I can not predict what will be a good marriage and what won’t be. I love you a lot and I want you to be safe and happy. If this marriage does that, then I will be very pleased. If this marriage harms you more than you have already been harmed by your short childhood, then I will be very unhappy and worried. But that is me. You certainly should not decide to marry or not to marry so that grandpa will be happy! That’s another very wrong reason to either marry or not marry.