Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Why I Have Trouble Taking Marriage Seriously

NOTE: Actual Mrs. Russo not pictured.
When I was a junior in high school, I had a very attractive English teacher named Mrs. Russo.  (Okay, that wasn't her real name, but I don't want to give that away, so, that will be her name for this post.)  A pretty young blonde fresh out of college, and easily mistakable for a student, guys throughout the school were simply gaga for her...and me probably most of all.  I couldn't stop talking about how "hot" she was, to the point where it was driving others bonkers; one guy at my lunch table said, "What is it with you and Ms. Russo?" However, there was a problem with our infatuation: Mrs. Russo was just that; a Mrs., aka a married woman.  In fact, her husband was Coach Russo, a longtime teacher at our school; word among my friends was that Mrs. Russo was Coach's student, and that they had gotten married just before she became our teacher.  I actually got into a bit of trouble with Coach Russo; when one of my other teachers notified him about what I was saying about his bride, he saw me in the hallway and said, "I heard you were talking about my wife!"

However, as serious as Coach was, I honestly laugh every time I think about that incident.  Why? Simply because, less than four years after they said, "I do," the Russos divorced.  I don't know all of the details--frankly, they're none of my business--but, for Coach to go from telling me not to talk about his wife to no longer having a wife in well under half a decade's time is simply laughable.  Of course, divorces happen; they were happening even back in Bible times.  Still, it's incidents like that and others--mostly involving friends or other people I've personally known--that make it difficult to take marriage seriously.  Another couple I knew got married when I was in middle school, only to be separated well before I finished high school and eventually ended up--you guessed it!--divorced.  Other couples I've known have done everything from split up once their kids moved out, to go from leaving their spouses to having new fiancees in a mere year or two, surprising right many of their friends.  It just seems to be happening left and right, and not just in Tinseltown.

Those of you who are around my age or older probably remember when Pokémon came on the scene in the late 90's.  I actually was late to the party; I was one of the last kids I knew to have any of the cards and especially the original Game Boy games.  When I heard people talk about the games, I tried to imagine what they were like...but, when I actually got one, it was nothing like what I had pictured.  Eventually, many kids ended up giving up on the franchise; an article in the local paper titled "Interest in Pokémon is waning" blamed Nintendo's pokiness in bringing the "next generation" of games to American shores, and Wizards of the Coast's doing the same with the newer cards, which led to many kids actually catching all of the monsters, both in card and video game form, which made them bored with it.  Some kids even became seriously critical of other kids who still were fans; I knew a guy once who went from wanting to name his family's new cat Pikachu to making fun of me for playing the games within a mere two years.  Not only that, but...many adults made fun of the franchise itself, mostly because they didn't understand it.  As one article I read said, "Kids everywhere know about Pokémon.  Most adults just scratch their heads."

I mention that because many grown-ups attitudes towards Pokémon echo my feelings about marriage.  Though I know what I've heard people say about the topic, I'm pretty much an outsider, and don't really know what it's like to be married or even in a serious relationship; it's hard for me to understand what romantically involved folks go through on a daily basis.  When I see people's marriages turning out to be fads--that is, they're short-lived--it makes me wonder why they even got involved in the first place.  It's easy for me to criticize what those in relationships do, because I don't ever find myself in such situations, and the writing on the wall says I may never at all.  There's been a recent meme on Facebook that uses the mishaps of celebrities ranging from Elizabeth Taylor to Larry King to Britney Spears to Tiger Woods as an argument against the sanctity of marriage; I can agree that, despite its divine institution, it has become a very big joke.  The splits of countless couples I personally know or have known only augments the point.  Even when couples don't split up, marriage is still poked fun at; how many times have we seen movies or TV shows--especially sitcoms--that focus on problems between spouses? I'll tell you right now that I have seen married couples fight in real life, and it is not the least bit funny...yet, that didn't stop Tim and Jill Taylor's disagreements from being punctuated by a laugh track!  Other sources--including non-entertainment ones--liken marriage to being a punishment or an otherwise not good thing.  With all of that...how on earth can I take it seriously? Half of the people involved in it don't seem to!

I will conclude by saying this: I know that many of you reading this probably are married or otherwise romantically involved.  I don't want you to think that I look down on you because of your relationship status; I don't feel that way at all.  In fact, I did a post about a year ago that talked about how entertainment was my significant other, because I talk about it often, spend most of my spare time with it, and even work with it at my job; one I specifically chose, that is.  Still, for most people, that's hard to understand; they've never had a "relationship" with an abstract entity.  Well, guess what? I've never had a romance with another human being; I have just as much trouble understanding your romantic situation as you do mine!  It's difficult to understand a situation that's not your own; when my oldest sister--who was severely disabled, mind you--was alive, people used to wonder why my mom was doing what she did.  When my mother started a day care in her own house after being unable to find reliable care for my eldest sibling, people would ask questions such as, "Why don't you get a job as a substitute nurse?" They didn't understand what it was like to have a kid like my oldest sister; those of you who have kids or other family members with disabilities probably feel her pain.  When it comes to marriage, I'm just as much of an outsider; part of me just doesn't get it, whereas another part of me just says to let the married folks do what they're going to do.  Maybe I'll understand someday...but, these days, I'm doubting that more than ever.

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