I’m For Commitment, Just Not Marriage

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About Carlos Andrés Gómez

Carlos Andrés Gómez is an award-winning poet, actor, and writer from New York City. A former social worker and public school teacher, he costarred in Spike Lee’s #1 movie “Inside Man” with Denzel Washington and appeared in the sixth season of HBO’s “Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry.” His first book, the coming-of-age memoir “Man Up: Cracking the Code of Modern Manhood,”is available now from Gotham Books, an imprint of Penguin. For more on the book or to keep up with Carlos' blogging, please visit his website: http://www.CarlosLive.com/ or follow him on Twitter@CarlosAGlive.

Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing this. You found the only reason to ever get married and it was, and will be, worth the wait. There is no magic time frame and supporting the artificially inflated diamond cartel is unnecessary. Your fiancee’s family and your friend have it right–it is the marriage that matters, not the wedding. Unfortunately, you experienced one of the undiscussed fall out’s of divorce-the ability to believe in the value that marriage can bring. It is more than just a committed relationship. It is a way of thinking and being. It is this that can remove the “work” of living together because, if done right, you will get more than you ever have to give.

    • Dane Polemics says:

      A commitment to marriage (in this case the “right kind of marriage”) has nothing to do with the individual you’re marrying, time frame, or whatever, and everything to do with submitting to ideological dogma. Fear of marriage is the only natural response to something an idea so alien and teleological. I would like to read about a relationship that overcomes this violent, authoritarian social contract in favor of a relationship that are supported by mutually aiding, inspiring and loving one another. The alternative is a suffocating structure manufactured from from 2,000 years of patriarchy and taxed by the state.

  2. wellokaythen says:

    Cliché as it sounds, your marriage is what you make of it. There is no such thing as Marriage (with a capital M), meaning there is no such institution that just is the way that it is and is always the same for everyone and it just means X and never means Y. Your particular marriage is something you create with your specific partner on your own terms. So, make your marriage what you want your marriage to be like.

    I agree with your friend that people think about weddings much more than they do marriages. I didn’t realize until a few years into my marriage that I never really gave much thought to what being married really meant or what I wanted from it. I got married because it just seemed like the next thing to do. THAT has to be one of the worst, riskiest reasons to get married. Getting married to make your family happy also sounds to me like a horrible reason to get married.

    It’s great to get advice from people who have been married for a while, but remember that your marriage will not be exactly like anyone else’s. Whether it lasts or not has everything to do with how well the two of you negotiate the contract, how well each of you and the both of you get what you want and need. Work out what your particular marriage will be like before you get married.

    I doubt you will follow this advice, but I also recommend getting advice from someone who has never gotten married, or someone who has not been married for a while. It’s okay to picture what your life would be like without getting married, it doesn’t mean you don’t love her. It’s okay to add up pros and cons, and it’s okay to think about what you will lose by getting married.

    Please, please, please do not have children just because you think everyone else does or because it just seemed like the next thing to do or because your family will be happier. Think about the consequences there, too.

  3. wellokaythen says:

    P.S. I recommend reading a few GMP posts by men who’ve gotten burned by divorce. Just so you go in eyes wide open.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      Wouldn’t his parents’ divorce, and growing up with nearly all the people in his young life being divorced, be enough for him to have his eyes wide open? I mean, he’s been with this woman for 8 years, right? His whole point is that his eyes are VERY wide open, and he’s choosing to do it anyway.

      That’s the entire context, wellokaythen.

      • wellokaythen says:

        (Oh, sure, call me to task for not paying attention to the whole article…. ; – ) )

        You’re right, he does have quite extensive experience with the ways that marriage can go wrong. However, I got the sense from the article’s language like he just forgot all about that experience and is a totally new person who has left those associations behind. If so, so be it, good for him. I just hope that he is not getting married as a kind of therapeutic approach for rehabilitating his earlier view of marriage, or as a way to solve the problems his parents had. Keeping a simple faith in the future, despite all your life experience, may not always be the best approach to life.

  4. Thoughtful essay!

    We knew each other for a decade, engaged for 7 years (3 of those years on opposite coasts), before getting married…yes, a relationship is a lot of work (even with someone you love!)….

    “Fear of commitment, of the death of all dreams, …of accepting a mediocre life….” yes, very real fears…

    I guess it helps to pick someone you can grow with and learn from…and not just going by some program…

  5. Hm. I like your article and can relate to certain parts of it but I still don’t know about marriage. I am a 36 year old woman in a loving committed relationship for over 6 years. We’ve been engaged for almost 4 years. For me, it’s not the commitment issue at all. I WANT to be in a life-long committed partnership. I have a different perspective on it. It’s just that I don’t think I need to sign a legal contract to have that… that’s the part I don’t get. I don’t need the government to define my relationship’s legitimacy. Especially when the same rights are not extended to all peoples.

    • @erin..

      I must agree with you. For most Americans, marriage above all else has been consecrated as a Holy union. It’s roots are primarily in religion, though not exclusively.

      The state should have no say whatsoever over the nature of marriage. Individuals should be free to create and establish marriages of their choosing.

    • Not buying it says:

      Thank you erin for spilling out how a lot of us feel men & women, if marriage as a social contract had as much value in reality as a large segment of society make it to be whether it’s religious or defined by new age political correctness (feminism) we wouldn’t have the dismal stats numbers of marriage failure we have decade after decade, in reality the numbers are even more drastic in certain segments of society, %75 to %90 among the educated affluent so called enlightened in certain parts of all the countries in the western world specially the good old U.S.A.

      The odds are so awful that if it was a business company issuing these contracts it would had been out if business by law suits for fraud long time ago, so way are these people are jumping into it so naively regardless of society pressures is beyond me.

    • erin. amen.

  6. Just what exactly is this “new model of life-long commitment” which was revealed through the love of your life?

  7. “Too many people plan weddings, not enough plan marriages.”

    YUP. My thoughts exactly when it comes to marriages.

    I think the divorce rate would be a lot lower if people took responsibility for their own emotional well-being rather than used their partner as an emotional crutch.

    I think the best marriages consist of two people walking the “Endless Path” with their partner– a path where each person continues to pursue personal-growth… which will then fuel the growth within their own relationship.

    This post knocked my socks off. Thanks to your mother for birthing you.

    • @mika…

      While I can appreciate your comments, I think what has to grow is the union. While as individuals we should strive daily for personal growth, that does not automatically translate into the growth of the marriage. Only when both people are totally and unselfishly committed to the success of the marriage will it work in the long run. Otherwise, it (marriage) is doomed.

      It is not about the growth of the individuals. It really is about the growth and vitality of the marriage. There is just way to much emphasis in our culture/society today on me me me. All this garbage about “loving one self”. “you deserve it”……is simple narcissism. There is nothing wrong with a healthy self image.

      What ultimately will happen when you focus too much on this “personal growth” is not an “Endless Path.” Rather you will be on a path to the end.

      • My intention was not to imply that personal growth was ALL you need for a successful marriage.

        I just think the vitality of any relationship strongly correlates to the vitality and health of each individuals’ own internal mindset. How can a marriage grow if the people within in are stuck in stagnation mode?

        Our actions and behaviors are fueled by the beliefs that were instilled from our childhood. A lot of those beliefs are limiting and many relationship issues arise due to preconceive notions of our “inner child.” That’s why I think personal growth (especially emotional intelligence) is essential for the health of one’s marriage–thus creating a space for a each person to be unselfishly committed to the success and vitality of the marriage. Just my thoughts.

  8. I’ve had similar experiences. My own parents have been in a rotten relationship for over 30 years and non of my relatives have loving, ‘healthy?!’, relationships. But it’s not the ‘failure’ of marriage that frightens me. It’s more the ‘expectations’ that bothers me – the expectations from myself and others, on ‘me’ (or my role as a woman). Marriage is a ‘pre-defined’ social value. Yes, indeed, people are ‘re-defining’ it everyday now, as we ‘re-define’ manhood and womanhood. But still, marriage is marriage, man is man, woman is woman. I guess, choosing to step out of it is also a way of redefinition, perhaps like an androgynous approach, the third sex, the third kind of union. Perhaps?! Just a thought.

    I have nothing against marriage, especially people who choose it to be a part of their lives. Celebrating love is a beautiful thing and it is wonderful that they have chosen this path. Love is what matters to me. Be it 3 seconds, 3 months, 30 years. As long as we can stand up to it, as long as we can be honest about it and true to it (not to its representation!!), as long as we have the courage to tell someone in the face with deep respect that we do not love them anymore when our hearts say so, we’ll never fail. In this case, I yet have a lot to learn.

    • @mia…

      “Love is what matters to me.”

      Yes, however marriage is not always love. Often it is simply a PRETENSE of love.

      “……..as long as we have the courage to tell someone in the face with deep respect that we do not love them anymore when our hearts say so, we’ll never fail.”

      Many people do not do this because their sole motivation for marriage in the first place was what they could get out of the other person. The focus should be on what one can do to strengthen the union and give to the other person.

  9. Thank you for sharing – a lot of us share similar fears!

  10. Beautiful essay! Thanks for sharing.

  11. Interesting story with good insights. I hope marriage turns out to be the right decision for you.

  12. Very inspiring!
    Perhaps you have touched on the possibility that because more people don’t listen to their inner selves telling them they are ready to make a real committment, divorce rates are so high.
    It’s always wise not to heed the societal conventions just because that’s the way its done.
    Real committment comes from within. Thanks for sharing

  13. I think more couples should take it in steps and honor commitment for awhile before considering marriage. From my experience, man who thinks slowly takes commitment more seriously than one who wants to jump right in. It’s like practice for the main event and can avoid a lot of heartache in the future.

  14. “Too many people plan weddings, not enough plan marriages.” – I like this quote a lot. Who is your friend and can I credit this quote to him when I use it in the future?

  15. John Schtoll says:

    As a contract, marriage is the worst contract ever written.

    Think about it, One person can decide to break the contract and has a very real possiblity of receiving all the benefits of the contract while giving up all the responsibilities in the contract.

    Would you sign this contract.

    “A cable company has a contract that allows them to cease providing you with cable service at any time they choose WHILE you still have to pay the whole or partial monthly fee for life OR until they find another customer to take over paying the fees”

    Or how about this one

    “You are a partner in a law firm, one of the other partners leaves this firm of their own free will and you have to give them 50% of the assets of the firm and provide them with a month salary at least equal to what they were earning during the partnership for life or until they join another firm and if you happen to land a big client while they are no longer with your firm, they can come back and demand a percentage of this new clients business , and and also, if they fall on hard times, they can come back 20+ years later and demand more money to maintain their lifestyle”

  16. Your amazing article resonated with me and is in line with my research on adult children of divorce. I’ve interviewed over 200 women raised in divorced homes and they seem to take two paths – they’re either “nesters” who plunge headlong into commitment (often with the wrong guy) or they fear commitment. It was interesting for me to read a males’ perspective on one of these patterns. I will continue to follow your work and hope you check me out on Facebook and Twitter. Regards, Terry

  17. A very good article Carlos. I appreciate the fact that you stressed on commitment in marriage as that’s what holds the marriage or any relation intact not the papers you sigh. So if there is no commitment there should be no marriage and also if the commitment wanes after marriage than separation is better as living with someone who loves someone else and not you can even be life threatening or in other words its like “sleeping with enemy” ;)http://www.lifenstory.com/frmViewStory.aspx?C1=22

  18. A commitment to marriage has nothing to do with the individual you’re marrying and everything to do with submitting to ideological dogma. Fear of marriage is the only natural response to something an idea so alien and teleological. I would like to read about a relationship that overcomes this violent, authoritarian social contract in favor of a relationship that are supported by mutually aiding, inspiring and loving one another. The alternative is a suffocating structure manufactured from from 2,000 years of patriarchy and taxed by the state.

    Regardless, this is more of a response to the comments following this article and the assumptions underlying their frenzied support for “the right kind of marriage”. Carl is still cool in my book and at least acknowledges and questions some of these assumptions.

  19. Personally, I am all for people being able to choose to marry for spiritual or religious reasons according to their own beliefs.

    What really bothers me is why the state has to get involved in any way, shape or form, other than for protection of children (i.e. when parents divorce, kids must be taken care of) which is a separate and distinct matter from marriage.

    After a tough divorce and aftermath, as a man, why risk it? Why not keep a good long-term relationship without all the legal implications it causes? I wish you luck man — she’d have to be pretty much my soul mate for me to even consider it.

  20. Hello,

    I’ve found this a very interesting article about a topic and questions that pop up in my mind regularly. However, one question that I didn’t find answered… what happened with your question about monogamy? My friend and I often talk about that. You can promise to do your best for a person for the rest of your life, but you cannot promise to be attracted to only that person for the rest of your life. You cannot control nature’s instincts. Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to act upon it, but still. How do you and other people in committed relationships or marriages deal with this? If you do not have sex with the other person that you desire, you are withholding yourself, you are going against your nature’s feelings for what reasons? Because you are afraid it will be the end of your marriage, because you don’t want to hurt them…?
    What is the true reason for people not to give in to this nature’s instinctive desire of another human being who is not the person they love? Fear? Not the right reason in my opinion…

    Truly loving someone means giving them the freedom to be themselves, right? How do you apply this to desiring another person?

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