When Did “I Do” Become “I Think So”? (column from Frederick News Post)

Sometimes the newspaper (Frederick News-Post) takes my column, “Anne In Progress”, down faster than I can get it out to you guys that I wrote one – ACK!! Here is a re-post from the FNP website of the one I just did on open marriages…It’s a Part 1 of 2, because I have had sooo much feedback from all of you (thank you!!) Keep the notes coming and I hope you like it….

When Did “I Do” Become “I Think So”?

As a little girl, I’d go in the backyard and play with my invisible friends, Jamie Summers and Steve Austin (Yes, my invisible friends were the Bionic Woman and the Six Million Dollar Man). I would pick a few flowers, usually those periwinkle blue hydrangeas on the bushes outside our backdoor and then pretend to sashay down the “aisle” to an orchestra of crickets and birds singing in our magnolia trees, making my way to my ‘husband du jour’, Bo Duke or The Greatest American Hero.

In all the times I played “gettin’ married” as a little girl, I never turned around and played “now I’m going to cheat on you” nor did I say to Bo Duke, “Hey, I see you have a wandering eye, let’s discuss an open marriage.” It was the 70’s, but still…

A few days ago I asked in my blog, “Life My Way” on the Frederick News Post website, for feedback regarding thoughts on cheating and open marriages. The response was amazing. I have read and re-read so many of your heartfelt letters and stories you decided to share with me. The one thing I noticed that was a common thread is that a lot of us are wondering, where DID the tradition go? What happened to making a commitment and holding it close to our hearts?

I get it – it’s 2010. Whatever. All I know is to me marriage is a commitment. Personally I’ve committed to many things: Debt, drinking, quitting smoking, cleaning my house, finding a job, getting a dog, finishing my book…All commitments I have and will work my hardest to honor (Well, the debt and the drinking fell by the wayside years ago, now I have new commitments to health and savings. Took a DUI and some credit issues, but I got there!).We are all flawed in some perfect way, that’s the beauty of “us” as humans – to err, is it? It’s when our flaws suck other people in to our own issue vortex that the problems begin. Do we all slide? Yep. I have been known to let a bill go 30 days without paying. I’ve snuck a cigarette here and there. I’m not perfect. No one is. I do realize though, my actions have consequences.

I cannot say how it would be for me if I was married or in a partnership and had to deal with someone that cheated on me, as I have never been married.  In some letters I received, the “married’s” have said they would stick it out and work through it because of the fact they are committed to the other person and to the vows. Others admitted that they would make it a business arrangement, and in some cases already have; One where they just ride out the “end of days” together for the sake of the family, the finances, what have you. Excuses, excuses. That thought makes me ill.

That latter part I cold not do. Maybe it’s my dream world I live in (I admit, I like it here), but I think marriage should be about love, honesty and happiness. The want to be with someone for what they bring to the table, not because you have to. If you are getting married and you think that you may just not be ready for it, then don’t do it. Not only will you hurt the other person when you cheat, but you screw up your own head, too. At least you do if you have a soul.

Next topic: Open marriages, or the “Commitment Cop Out”. I feel that there is always one person that wants this situation more so than the other. It’s just the other one says yes for either one of two reasons: A. Because they love the other person more than they do themselves (UNHEALTHY) and are willing to sacrifice their own pride for them to have what they want or B. They are getting paid out of it.

In 10% of the cases out there, I’m sure I’m wrong: People are doing the open marriage thing because they can and it works for them. Still, why did you even bother to spend the money on a wedding (I mean really? Those things are pricey!) if you can’t even honor your vows that you made in front of your family and friends?

Open marriages are set up for failure – Someone’s getting hurt in the end. May not even be the couple, but the other folks that are on the outskirts as the “lovers”. Play with fire people and Company Three on Market Street is gonna have to come put it out.

In the end, we all choose what we think is the absolute best for ourselves. I guess I’m just asking that we really think long and hard about how our actions could affect others and if we are ready to take that responsibility on. A little bit of good-decision making can go a long way.

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