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Radical Traditionalism I – Is Marriage Truly About Love?

(I want to credit much of Radical Traditionalist Theory to my sister and to mind-blowing conversations with her.)

Okay, marriage is about love
At least nowadays it is. But historically marriage was not merely a celebration of blissful love; nor, as I caution here, should it be.

Call me odd, un-romantic, bitter?

Ah, those hilarious Lockhorns!

Lockhorn Spouses - traditional marriage?

Shucks – please just call me old-fashioned. Not as in return-to-traditional-values-of-the-1950s-conservative; and I’m not talking about our tradition of Lockhorn spouses (though I can’t seem to get enough of their enduring mutual resentment – LOL!!).

I’d rather think I’m really old-fashioned; a thoughtful throwback; a Radical Traditionalist.

The long, celebrated history of marriage, blithely cited by so-called defenders of it, needs some brushing-up in the education of most people around you: for historically, marriage was dominated by a selection from this brief and not-so-tempting smorgasbord:
– arranged marriage,
– shotgun marriage, and

Mmmm, delish! – although you might prefer the buffet
at Circus-Circus Casino in RenoI know I do!

What About Love? Don’t you want someone to care about you?”
Isn’t marriage all about love?
Well, sort of: around the turn of the last century, in certain parts of the world, and among certain social classes, arranged and shotgun marriages were supplanted by unions designed for creating a structure around Love.

Ah, Love! (Take a moment here to sigh.)
Bunny-love, warm, fuzzy, sexy, divine. Yours is/was like no other – the kind that no-one around you had quite the depth of emotion to comprehend – in profundity, beauty, originality.
(A note: Bunny love, when it doesn’t work out, is later-on often referred to using terms such as narco-love or, more gently and academically, limerance.)

There is nothing quite so powerful as love, and bunny love can therefore lead to problems, like teenage bunny girls with baby bunnies, while dad-bunny is out sponsoring other girls’ baby bunnies.

Grandparents don’t like to see such burdens on their daughters-as-parents. Having been through the tides and storms of graver decades than you have, they want their grandchildren to have every opportunity – opportunities such as that money they put aside instead of spending on themselves – and so they have motivation to put rules around union… marriage. (Grandma and Grandpa know what they did and didn’t work their asses off for.)

Ever notice how closely patrimony resembles the word matrimony?
Consider your son’s very natural urges (or if that’s too gross, think of your own, more justified ones when you were 19). Now think of your family’s savings floating like a spirit above his bunny-love bed, looking for a place to land. (If you’re a goat-herder, this can be an image of your flock – radical traditionalism works for you, too.) Got the image? Now think of that college money or goat herd alighting on his special-someone-du-jour. Is s/he going to spend it, maybe, in Vegas or Gomorrah?

There are also problems other than patrimony that come from bunny-love-matrimony. Let’s say, for instance, that you would like to see your grandchildren once in a while, before they re-discover you in the rebellion of young adulthood. (Less clan-commited offspring-in-law aren’t into your bad influence, especially during the infancy of their first-born, when they don’t see your babysitting as a value-add and are getting everything right without your input.)

So ask: what’s the future son/daughter-in-law’s commitment to the clan? Is there a more romantic bunny lover than one with a cute accent, who will spirit the family’s child far away, to a much more romantic place (e.g. anywhere else unless they were raised in NYC and Paris)?

Or much more serious, consider a son-in-law who doesn’t like his old lady to be seen in public where there exist other male bunnies – you know the scary controlling type. (Of course you do, and it strikes fear into your grown-up heart to consider the poor object of his freakish “love”).

Okay – one last set of images. When a lover or spouse enters the clan, there are potential implications to the safety and well-being of every niece and nephew…, impacts positive or negative on every important family event. (Ugh – let’s move quickly along.)

Love between Loving Lovers
The “long and sacred history of marriage” is not primarily a celebration of blissful love between loving lovers. And it’s not primarily a history of sanctity (I don’t have the interest, but you can go to Wikipedia and skim, or find a better source, some book). The long and actually not-so-sacred history of marriage is one of protection over marriage-ready offspring (this protection includes the money saved to nurture them) by loving parents.

In Short:
In short, what I’m saying here is that marriage should be undertaken only when you are ready to pledge, in addition to your deep love, your will and commitment to the state of your lover’s clan; and when your spouse-to-be seems the kind of guy/gal who will truly do the same. This choice to focus one’s marriage beyond the wedding couple is actually deeply traditional, but to do so now by choice rather than by expectation is radical. And so I say: to the extent that you value your clan and accept the support of your clan, marriage should not be simply about your own love. (I say “to the extent..” because some clans are such that it would be self-defeating to stay in touch with them. Sound like yours? Go ahead and marry that gal who would believe you love her if only you didn’t call your family – or that guy, if you must, the one wearing the spotted-fur toga, toting a club. )

Have a Radical Traditionalist marriage:
So next time you marry, or the time after that, give a brief nod to history. Consider an additional vow to your true-love’s family, promising to do what you can to be a positive addition to the clan; vow to take good care of their grown-up baby.

Sure, of course: go ahead and invite your wedding guests to “share in celebration of your Love” – but consider that among the guests will be those older, jaded, post-limerance realists, who love you dearly. And more than celebrating the unique beauty of your new love, they will be sitting on rented folding chairs, bearing with each loving tear and benevolent fear, a silent cheer of deepest sincerity, the wish that you and your new spouse (+grandchildren, God willing) will be safe and loved and well-cared for, well-provisioned to bear the tides and storms of graver decades.

Post-limerant love?

Traditional marriage? Beware the Bunny - marry for love... and more.

9 Responses

  1. Following along that line of thought, move to a larger community. While I ardently argue that “one size” does not fit all (at all!), it does seem that marriage as commitment is something that strengthens the bonds and networks of mutual support that benefit the clan (community). I fail to see the logic of allowing only *certain* people to make that commitment.

  2. Addendum: …or to receive the legal benefits that support that commitment.

  3. If “Marriage” is not what its purported to be, and the history of which is not so sanctimonious but only a license (from govt.) that legally binds a woman and a man, why not create something new, no matter what the eligible-for-marriage folks think. Legally binding relationship with a completely new name with all the rights a Marriage brings and make history for real!?

    Editor: Silk, along these lines, I asked for some time what is the role of the standard state contract when we also have pre-nups – what role does the state even have in designating a separate status of married/unmarried? Why not dispense with the standard contract with the stacks of law underneath – and have a “pre-nup” form that people customize according to the understanding they want on their own relationship’s economics etc., creating the understanding that those involved want to commit to? -dsp

  4. to add to it: When did we stop fighting for “equality” and start fighting for “marriage”?

  5. I want Equality, Liberty not marriage garbage

  6. henceforth, rechristened as Silk.
    Actually, Ed (short for Editor), that would make you an extreme Republican! – I mean don’t you think that it will be “No Govt” instead of ‘small Govt’? 😉 But honey, No-Govt is not possible, that will be anarchy. Or most importantly, who will pay for Social security, Health care, etc? You mean you are going to bundle that in a pre nup? That would be the day when everyone is an island, country, and its own govt! WOW!

  7. to elaborate, if Marriage is only about two individuals and their property, then there may not be a necessary for state intervention…even then, who is going to mediate the conflict resolution?…. the moment there is a need for a 3rd party, the flood gates get opened for all types…I am not even talking about citizenship, tax-money…oh wait, I already mentioned anarchy. so I am done

  8. this is Not intended to imply that anyone *should* marry. Or what any relationship should be, for that matter. Yuck. But when so many powerful benefits are available only to legal family (protections for the clan, health insurance and medical decisions, custody, taxes, inheritance, etc.,), every adult and every child should have equal access to those benefits regardless of the sex/gender of those involved. Call it whatever you want, but separate is not equal.

  9. You would be quite proud of your two nieces here in AZ. They have been actively promoting a NO vote to the proposition here in AZ that is trying to discriminate against who can and who cannot enter into this thing we now call marriage. They have used many of the same arguments you are saying here. I’m quite proud of how well they have stood up to many people so far. We’ll see how the vote comes down today.

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