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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

stuck in marriage?


Or marriage struck?

After my last post on temporary divorce I worried that some of my readers might question my committment to married life, or at least those who do not get my pathetic attempt at droll wit.

So worried was I, in fact, that I scoured back to the sad beginnings of my blog for an old post, one of my earliest, in order to camouflage my blogger's block shore up any doubts. Because the fact of the matter is, I'm about as emotionally dependent on committed to my husband as I am to inhaling the air around me.

And so here is my repeat post, which, for the record, enjoyed zero comments two years ago. Needless to say, I am hoping for a better comment showing the second time around.

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For the past several years at Edge, John Brockman has asked scientists and philosophers a provocative question and then posts their answers.

The 2008 question was "What have you changed your mind about?"

One psychology professor's reply reflected on his research. Daniel Gilbert suggested that the decisions which leave us with the ability to change our minds are less satisfying than decisions which are irrevocable.

Not long after he reached this conclusion he went home to propose to his girlfriend. After several years of marriage, he believes he loves her more as his wife than he loved her as his girlfriend.

For me, a longtime married person, its refreshing to learn there are theories out there that support the notion that love can grow precisely because of options lost.

Or make that, the choice to love only one.

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Because my own personal case study in marriage, my n=1, no double-blind-placebo experiment, has led me to the same conclusion. I felt stark panic considerable uncertainty about the decision to get married. I love him but is he the right man for me? Will it last? Do I really want to make Texas my home?


But once he put the golden band around my finger all doubts fell away. Uncertainty was replaced by a more complete depth of knowing than I ever thought possible.

The divorce rate tells me this isn't everyone's experience. But I do wonder about the satisfaction levels of other irrevocable decisions.

Having a child comes to mind. We all know how powerfully satisfying parenthood can be. I know in my case, I am always awed into silence when an indecisive childfree person asks me whether she should have children or not. My first instinct as a Mom, though not as a psychologist, is to say "You will not regret it. Not even for a half of a trillionenth of a nanosecond. It is the single most life changing and rewarding experience you will ever know."

How about you, reader. Once you put a sealed decision behind you, did your satisfaction grow?

13 comments:

Kathleen Scott said...

I don't know about the question...it's late and my 16 dinner guests haven't been gone long so I'm still in zombie phase. But I do know about being married to Denny. It was the single best thing I've ever done.

But I think marriages evolve. We're not so married Day 1 as we are by the time we've evolved to instinctive 'we'. I had 19 years between marriages to set a pattern of 'I'. It took years to think first 'we'. Now it's comfort.

phd in yogurtry said...

Kathleen -- Thanks to you, this re-post has enjoyed a 100% increase in comments! I like your description of marriage evolving into a an instinctive "we" and how it becomes a comfort. I very much agree. Sometimes I think I get a little too addicted to the "we" and strive for more balance. But I'd rather this imbalance than the alternative, I think.

Becca said...

I had no concept of "for the rest of my life when i got married and it kind of freaked me out. I was committed to the marriage but didn't understand truly what that meant. 11 years in the idea of NOT having this freaks me out, and I am very satisfied. Then having a child made it all even more solid.

phd in yogurtry said...

Becca -- Yes, kids can certainly solidify the feeling of committment.

Jocelyn said...

I love knowing about this study/question...as I do feel that marriage changes things, generally--but I've never been able to suss out WHY.

This helps.

Oh, and lovely writing about your feelings pre- and post-marriage!

Jocelyn said...

Oh, and I also wanted to say,

um,

I forgot.

But, LOOK: now you have LOTS of comments on this post.

Jocelyn said...

Plus even more now.

Jocelyn said...

Because readers really resonated with what you wrote about feelings of commitment.

phd in yogurtry said...

Jocelyn -- Thank you for your comment.

phd in yogurtry said...

Jocelyn -- And you other comment.

phd in yogurtry said...

Jocelyn -- And other.

K said...

So far, I have not regreted any "sealed" decision.

But I have a very good friend who wishes she didn't have her children - and it's the saddest/scariest thing I've ever seen. It's also something I can not understand as a mom - I love being a mom.

bernthis said...

I knew three weeks in that we shouldn't be together. Sadly, 14 years later, I actually left him.