Izzy had been talking for months about her upbringing and all the residues of events in her early childhood she could see working in her current life. As if unintentionally falling out from her lips she blurted out,
“I can’t believe I got married at 18.”
It was curious that I had not thought much about that between Rufus and Izzy. The way they told their story…it sounded natural. Natural, magical, these were all words used by both of them to explain how they related that gave me feelings of this safeness which was good, it’s always good to feel safe, but when we’re feeling too safe we lack curiosity and are blinded by the walls.
“What’s unbelievable about it?” I asked.
“I was young and reckless and just said yes to Rufus like I did everything else that I wanted. I just took.”
Izzy laid on the couch quietly for a minute, then laughed.
“I ruined Rufus that night. Did you know he was a virgin!? I always thought that was ridiculous because he is beautiful. A beautiful, out of place, pure, repressed church boy.”
I had to sit on the word “ruined” Izzy used. Was there an inability to be with someone that was “pure” so that pureness had to be ruined? I wasn’t sure if this was important, but this was going on through my mind as I was understanding what was being communicated.
“I gave him my ruin to make him mine forever and he made me whole through his purity.”
Izzy started crying suddenly. I’ll tell you that as a human, I want to intervene immediately when someone is crying. There’s the desire to soothe someone of their pain. It’s no secret that people who find themselves in any work and lifestyle of helping, we are fiercely driven to help through this sometimes blind and impulsive energy. This is one of the places where analytical training retrains your humanity for the better for the analytical situation.
Analyst aren’t there to ignite their own impulses of helping to make themselves feel better that they helped someone. They’re there to allow understanding flourish so the human on the couch will be able to understand themselves and their situation so they can find the drive to help themselves with our support. With our support as long as we are needed.
Izzy cried without me interrupting her so she could express what she was feeling in the way she could at the moment. A lot of people who have never gone through this situation tell me that I’m cold for doing that. I always ask if they have ever cried and just had someone silently hold them, not telling them how to feel by saying, “Don’t cry. Everything is going to be all right.” Words aren’t always good enough for what is happening within. We have to scream, cry or laugh before we can put what is going on into words. Big girls don’t cry? No, they definitely do. They just also are capable of putting that crying into words later.
“I felt so safe and I was so loving with him that night and every night after. I orgasmed with him, my first orgasm and I knew I had made the right decision and that saying yes to his marriage proposal was the right thing. I was a dumb 18-year-old to correlate an orgasm with a good life decision, but it was right to me.”
Izzy never dries her tears.
“I had a companion and we were promising each other to be with each other forever in my wild mind. Everyone would see it, everyone would know it, everyone would expect it, and we would be on our way into the world together. If he didn’t ask me to marry him I wouldn’t have done it.”
“What would have been different?”
“It would have told me that he had the same doubts about me as I had about me. That he wanted to try, but wasn’t committed to forever. I saw with my parents how they were doing well until forever started to come along. I needed more than the good times at the beginning of a relationship. I needed as much of a guarantee as possible that he’d still want me when we were 40, 90 and 170.
It still sounds so stupid that I “knew” this because he asked me to marry him and I had my first orgasm with him. But I was right.”
This was about social and personal expectations. We’ve so far dug through what attracted Rufus and Izzy to each other and how they attached to each other, and now we’re exploring their decision to marry.
There are legal, social and spiritual sides to marriage. The legal side is the contract made with the state to legally recognize your union so the couple can have special benefits such as tax deductions, next-of-kin decision rights and health insurance benefits. Izzy didn’t talk about this when she mentioned why she agreed to marry Rufus. That’s reasonable since she was 18 and was not thinking about taxes and health insurance.
Izzy was very consciously and unconsciously focused on the social and spiritual foundations a marriage to Rufus would create for her. She was very intense when she explained that everyone would see them married so they then could go out into the world together and how this would make her feel safe. I questioned her about this and she was quick to tell me that she wouldn’t have gone with Rufus without a marriage proposal since she would then believe he doubted her. It wouldn’t have been safe enough for Izzy. It wouldn’t have been the foundation she wanted the rest of her life to be laid upon.
Does marriage guarantee a long-lasting relationship that’ll last at least 170 years? No, guarantees don’t exist. But, we can see for Izzy that the proposal and marriage communicated that her and Rufus would work through everything no matter what, no matter how many decades they were together. The freedom to struggle and grow together is more satisfying to our life drive than a dead guarantee. When we’re guaranteed something, we put little to no energy towards it.
So far, I believe this is the most important communication of a marriage proposal that too few take into consideration. If both of you aren’t going to die trying to make the marriage work, why bother? Why marry someone who is looking for forever, and everything forever means, if you’re always going to have a foot out the door?
I blame society for this a bit. Listen to every love song, every love movie. It’s all about the first few years of marriage and we believe that’s what a forever relationship is supposed to be about. We’re not taught what a long-lasting relationship is supposed to be like. Izzy didn’t know. She just wanted to know that Rufus would do everything to try to figure forever out with her when they got there.
Unconditional Love vs Consistently Growing Love
I was just reminded of a song. Lana Del Rey – Young and Beautiful. This is the universal question we all have.
“Will you still love me when I’m no longer young and beautiful?”
It’s easy to be with someone at the start, when everything is new and exciting. That’s every love song, every movie, every Cinderella. How about after all the crazy nights of a youthful relationship? Marriage’s strength is that it is answering, promising, that you will love someone when they’re just an aching soul.
This isn’t the fake guarantee unconditional love that sets you up for failure that we’re asking for. Love naturally peaks and bottoms out due to life which then gives us thoughts that maybe we don’t love this person enough and made a mistake since we’re not in so much love with them at the moment. We saw Rufus went through this false idea of love when he was terrorized by the idea he made a mistake marrying Izzy because he could feel now and was feeling overwhelmed and unloving towards her. He discovered that unconditional love isn’t love worth striving for since it was just another name for death.
It’s the consistently growing love that won’t shatter when we’re not feeling so loving towards our lover that we’re asking for. It knows no mistake was made when two imperfect humans decide to love each other. It understands that the love will come back to it’s fuller strength as it always had with the cooperative work of both lovers. This love, real love, also knows when it’s actually over though.
This may be why we yearn for the dead end lie of a guarantee of unconditional love instead of struggling for that life giving consistently growing love.
This doesn’t mean that being unmarried stops you from doing everything to work on the relationship, to make it everlasting. But, we have to give marriage its dues, with all the problems marriages have. In the West, it’s a public promise to love someone forever and we’ll be held accountable for it legally, socially and spiritually. That accountability, that promise, makes or breaks it for many people, as it did for Izzy. It’s beautiful when you see two people keep their promise to each other, keeping their vows sacred.