I was talking with a buddy recently and the topic of marriage came up. He’s a young guy, in his late 20’s and is in a fairly new relationship. I can’t even recall how the topic of marriage came up, but we were talking about how marriage is supposed to be a lifetime commitment, and he wasn’t sure about that side of it. What he said about commitment really stuck with me. He said:
I don’t know man, forever is a long time. It’s like pizza. I love pizza, and I could happily eat it every day. But you know what? Sometimes I’ll be walking by a hot-dog stand and I’ll be thinking I could really go for a hot-dog right now. It doesn’t mean I like pizza any less, but sometimes that hot-dog looks really good.
We had a good laugh about it, and I have to admit the sight of a hot-dog stand now brings a smile to my face.
Today’s entry isn’t about sex, or infidelity (both are topics for another day). Rather it’s about the idea that committing to a lifetime of pizza is a sacrifice, except of course I’m not really talking about pizza.
*** Side note – as a heterosexual male the imagery of craving a hot dog once in a while instead of pizza doesn’t quite sit right. I can’t really think of any foods that look like female genitalia though, so maybe a melon stand instead? That doesn’t quite work as I can’t say that I really see many melon stands around. If I lived in Florida maybe, but I don’t.
Oh well, it was my buddies analogy anyhow and I’m just rolling with it.
Living in dreamland
We never got into the specifics of his concerns, but on the surface it seemed my buddy was talking about sex. I mean, he is a guy in his late 20’s – so a pretty high percentage of his conscious thought process likely revolves around sex. But is that really what it’s about?
Let’s say you’re in a long term relationship with someone. Now let’s say you notice someone else (you’re walking by the hot-dog stand). I get noticing the other person, sure. You may think to yourself – damn, he/she is hot. And sure, your mind may wander into the realm of fantasy, I get that too.
I’m not sure how your relationship “restricts you”. Does it restrict you from noticing and appreciating other people? No, of course not. Being in a relationship doesn’t mean you’re dead. Just because you notice someone else doesn’t mean that you find your spouse any less desirable or love them any less.
*** Side note 2 – I’m not suggesting that you gawk or anything, and it’s probably not a good idea to say “Honey, did you see the body on her? DAAAAAAMMMMNNNN!!!!”. Be respectful.
The only thing your relationship really restricts you from doing is going and messing around with another person. Is that really such a terrible thing? It’s not as if all the beautiful people you see day to day look at you and are immediately overcome with desire for you, and then proposition you for sex.
Maybe that happens in TV and movies, but it sure hasn’t been my experience in life (I suppose it could just be me though).
*** Side note 3 – This may be just a male/female difference. I’ve often believed that if a guy goes to a bar looking for sex, he may or may not find it. If a girl does to a bar looking for sex she will have a lineup out the door and around the building, and it doesn’t matter how nice she is or what she looks like. Sorry ladies, it doesn’t actually mean the guy gives a crap about you. We’re just wired differently.
Even if life did involve a trail of beautiful people chasing after you propositioning you for sex, so what? If you take them up on it would that really make you happier? Would that make you feel less restricted by a relationship? While acknowledging that this has never happened to me, I have my doubts.
The real issue here is that some people feel threatened by commitment because they perceive it as representing a loss of freedom.
Loss of freedom
Do relationships really restrict someone’s freedom? Yeah of course they do. The question becomes what is it restricting you from and is that really a bad thing? The way I see it a relationship restricts you from starting another relationship with someone else at the same time, or from engaging in casual sex on the side. Beyond that, a relationship means that you need to make time in your life for another person, and take them into consideration in the decisions you make. You can’t just focus on “you” all the time.
Ask yourself, is anyone truly “free”? No, there are restrictions on freedom everywhere. That what laws are about – they put parameters on behaviors that are acceptable within society. No one is truly free. You may have the freedom to do what you want, but it comes with consequences.
If I walk into a store and take what I want without paying for it I get arrested. If I don’t show up to work because I don’t feel like it, I may lose my job. If I don’t pay my mortgage the bank will take my house. Everything I do is a decision, and decisions have consequences.
*** side note 4 – There are extremes where relationships do involve a loss of freedom. You see stories of relationships where one person (usually the guy sadly) controls all aspects of the other persons life. What they wear, what they can do, etc. That kind of loss of freedom is abuse, and bad news.
Being part of a team
Have you ever heard that saying that “work isn’t work when you love what you are doing”? I feel the same way about the sacrifices involved in a relationship. Sure you lose a bit of freedom, and you can’t just do whatever you want anymore (not that you ever truly could).
These “restrictions” a relationship puts on you are also one of the strength of a relationship. Guess what, your life isn’t just about you!!! You have gone from being solely a “me” to being part of a “we”. Sure there are things you give up, but what you get in return more than outweighs what you lose.
There’s a sense of fulfillment and a sense of belonging. Knowing that you have someone who you can count on, and knowing the same person can count on you. Being able to look forward to a future with someone, knowing that no matter what life throws at you, you will always be committed to each other. Being able to work towards goal together and support each other in those goals that you don’t share.
Instead of viewing a committed relationship as restrictive, I think of it as freeing. Life isn’t just about what is in it for you, it’s also about what you are able to give. And how better to give, than to share your life with another person.