The Premarital Contract, HGM style, has been percolating – really just shy of boiling over – as of late. Time and again I found myself returning to this comment from D in response to the last post:
I can’t believe I’m about to say this but… I totally disagree. As much as prenups can and have been used as a safety net they are also used as a weapon. Do I think that the divorce rate would lower due to prenups absolutely! Do I think that the happiness factor will rise? Hell no. The mindset of “if I stick with it for another 6 years I get _____” I want to be loved and needed and wanted for years to come but not because my partner is contractually obligated. And while I see how in your situation it would of been beyond beneficial to have one I have a feeling “The Genius” would have found some sort of loophole, some snag something to get around anything that would of been in place. Call me crazy, or call me maybe but I would rather take the plunge with my rose coloured glasses.
I’ll call you thoughtful, D. And honest. Your ideas are similar to those I had when I married. I speak of only my situation when I say I was naive, left way too much to chance, and assumed that whatever cropped up we would handle it together. Because we married each other. And I firmly believed that he would never betray me.
While I didn’t like playing with dolls as a child and preferred the Wizard of Oz to Cinderella, I clearly drank the fairy tale brew with my rose-colored glasses pushed high on the bridge of my nose.
There was arrogance involved, as well. How could I make a poor choice? I didn’t even want to get married. I certainly wasn’t on the hunt. So, I assumed, it must be true love. The kind you don’t let slip away. It must be the kind of love that only comes around once in many lifetimes. I’d be foolish to not embrace the opportunity to realize true soulmate love.
During my energy session with Melissa, she commented that I must have known about the affair on some level. Then she asked,
What did you gain? You must have gained something. It must have served you on some level.
It’s easy to admit that I knew on a soul level that I was being betrayed, though my conscious mind chose not to pay attention. But I feel she was suggesting that my conscious mind knew something illicit was going on and I chose to ignore it. That’s a really hard idea to embrace. To think that I would allow myself to be treated poorly for some unknown gain on my end.
Did I not feel I was worthy of having a healthy relationship?
(Give me a B! Give me an O! Give me a U!…you get the idea.)
As I reflect back on those days of courtship and engagement three facts stand out: I knew nothing about boundaries, I allowed his attraction to me to be a reason why I should feel safe marrying him, and I never recognized that we live in a dual world and attract what we need. Sometimes we need a beach vacation in a hut perched above the aquamarine sea in Bora Bora, and sometimes we need a wake-up call that splits our head open with each unanswered ring as we lay on a too soft bed full of biting bugs. What I need is unique to me, and what my partner needs is unique to him. What he’s attracted to serves his need and what I am attracted to serves mine. Had I been accepting of the idea that this is a dual world, I would have been more realistic about the marriage I was about to enter into instead of idealistic.
It’s not two people moving forward in harmony, but two people with different quests to fulfill, and they are brave enough to attempt to do it in the company of another.
Boundaries then, even if there were just a few porous ones but an understanding that they were essential for healthy relationships, would have led me to take my time and really explore the morals, values, and maturity of the person to which I was about to commit my heart and all of my days. Having boundaries would have insured that I felt confident speaking up about my needs and the behaviors that were acceptable, supportive and healthy. Having boundaries and communicating them would have demonstrated to me that I love myself, and the message to him would have been, This is not a move I take lightly. I’m prepared to walk away if I don’t feel absolutely certain that we share the same values and have similar goals for personal development.
Because I knew so little about myself, had not the awareness that to be in a healthy relationship I had to have one with myself first, I allowed his expressed love for me to be a defining reason as to why I should feel comfortable marrying him after such a short courtship.
He must know what he’s doing!
Cuz I sure don’t. Although I acted as if I had a crystal ball and knew just how to use it.
He loves me!
He’ll never betray me.
When we hit a rough patch he’ll grab my hand and be motivated to work through it!
Not run into the outstretched arms of a married woman with stars in her eyes.
The concept of a premarital agreement is less about how to undo the marriage, although that ought to be taken into consideration, and more about creating a healthy environment in which the marriage can grow, morph, stumble and right itself again without fear. It acknowledges that there will be, by the design of a dual world, really rough patches that provide an opportunity to appreciate the really smooth ones. These challenges can take many forms – personal failures, world crises, mid-life crises, or just lifelong growing pains. They’re not reasons to flee but catalysts for strengthening the union. Reasons for being married in the first place.
Marriage is not the happily ever after but the crash course in life that, once aced, makes one realize just how happy we are capable of being.
Beyond imagination happy.
When I picture a woman having a premarital strategy session with her betrothed, I see a smartly dressed (the most perfect accessories – something I fail at miserably) woman with a blow out and painted nails (my prejudice on full display), calmly moving from point to point, expressing her needs, her desires, her total togetherness. She is fully engaged, centered and not at all on the defensive. She’s not trying to make herself liked. She’s not trying to be accepted. She already fully accepts herself exactly as she is. And seeks someone who will love and accept her exactly as she is.
She is without fear.
She does not fear her betrothed will walk away when she expresses the standards she expects in the relationship, for if he does she will have accomplished her goal.
She doesn’t fear the unknown because she’s talking about it. She’s demystifying it. She’s not giving it power by working up a sweat bobbing and weaving, making concessions, chipping away at her self. She somehow knows that this conversation will either break a union that would break anyway or create intimacy that will help it weather the certain storms.
I am in awe of her.
My dear D, a premarital contract, one that honors the boundaries of both parties (or highlights a lack of boundaries) and demystifies the challenges that lay ahead (challenges that are the gifts of being willing to embark on a commitment that has a history of failure) may not lead to a lifelong marriage. But it will, at the very least, lead to mutual respect, a deeper understanding of self, and a feeling of accomplishment before the I do’s are exchanged.
To me it’s the I AM before the I DO.
This past Sunday was a low, low tide. One that bares the rocks that live in waves, exposing naked star fish and mollusks and sea anemones. The dudes and I tide pool hopped from Agate Beach in Bolinas to the southern end of Stinson Beach, sticking our fingers in the mouths of star fish (those that weren’t lunching on mollusks) and anemones and collecting shells and pebbles that spoke to us.
As we walked down to the rocks at Stinson, we passed a couple who were creating what I assumed was a playing field of some sort. They used rakes and a line marker to draw a symmetrical outline with boundaries and circles that were perfect for face offs or jump balls.
Lines drawn in the sand.
Was it a rugby field? A complex soccer field? A hockey rink on sand?
When we emerged from the rocks, shells and pebbles in hand, discussing the joy of finding a star fish that was slowly conquering a mollusk for Sunday brunch, we again came upon the ‘playing field’.
It had grown even more complex. Measuring what seemed like a football field in length. The man had a five-pronged garden rake in his hand, spinning sand into elaborate swirls with such speed it was as if he was standing in front of an easel with a paint brush and a palette. He added flourishes to the structure he first put down.
High up on the rocks just below Highway 1 a group of people gathered, witnessing his creation. I was envious of their vantage point.
I didn’t approach him to get the story because I could see exactly what would happen. One dude would dare the other and his hard work would become a sand storm not suitable for the game that was surely about to be played.
The next day, in the afternoon, I pulled into the parking lot at the end of Mesa for a hike to Alamere Falls. I was feeling neither happy nor sad, even though I had braved a ridiculous amount of anger over the past days. I wasn’t venturing off on some epic hike, but a sane 8-miler. I wasn’t thinking about magic, but hoping for a reprieve from heady pondering. I was feeling lonely and wanted to be alone. The trails would be quiet. No magical encounters for me – of the human variety. But I felt that nature would delight as is her habit.
In the parking lot was a pickup truck that had seen it all. The back gate was down. A woman walked around from the front and handed to a man a garden rake. He slid it into the truck, next to several other harvesting tools, each with its proper place in the highly organized and dusty interior. I approached them straight away.
Were you at Stinson Beach yesterday? On the south end?
Yes, we were.
What were you doing? Creating a field of some sort? It was gorgeous!
Two sets of soft eyes gazed at me, smiles spreading.
They create sand art, commissioned and at other times because they are moved to do so. Which was why they were at Alamere Falls. They knew the tide was low and had not been to the falls before. They hiked there, rakes in hand and left a gift for all who came after them. And then it would feed the waves. We spoke for several minutes as he showed me pictures of past masterpieces he had created.
Each one crafted with the knowledge that it was temporary.
So what was that design at Stinson? It looked like some massive basketball court meets soccer field!
It would have been hard for you to figure it out standing on the sand and at the water’s edge. It was meant to be viewed from above…
It was a marriage proposal.
***See that little blue bird up there on the right? It’s my twitter feed. Go ahead, take the plunge. Follow me. I’m heading east for a family visit and want to take you along for the ride. Please also subscribe to the blog. I’ll keep your email between you and me. It just makes it so much easier to know when there’s a fresh post waiting for you.
I’ll be writing in the clouds on Virgin America. How freaking fitting. LY