All I have ever wanted in life is to belong. That's pretty much it. Whether it was in school and I wanted to belong to the "in" group, or later in life, to belong in someone special's life. And over the years, my definition of belong has grown...
Webster's.com defines the word "belong" as follows:
To be proper, appropriate, or suitable: A napkin belongs at every place setting.
To be in an appropriate situation or environment: That plant belongs outdoors.
To be a member of a group, such as a club.
To fit into a group naturally: No matter what I did, I just didn't belong.
To have in one's possession. Often used with to: The earth belongs to the living (Thomas Jefferson).
To be a part of something else: These blades belong to the food processor.
In life, no one "belongs" to another in the true definition of the word, but I would like to take a little licensese with the word and relate it to relationships.
When you choose to date someone, you are choosing to share a part of your life with that special someone. As that relationship grows (if it is truly meant to grow, that is), the sharing becomes deeper and more meaningful. You feel comfortable sharing inner feelings, fears, hopes, dreams, and nightmares with that someone. You begin to feel like your life would be less complete without that person in it. You start to belong to that person. You and this person are a group, you become a part of one another. Should the relationship progress, it may turn into marriage.
The Bible defines marriage as "When a man leaves his mother and father and cleaves to his wife." Often melancholy parents of the bride are met with the words, "Don't worry, you haven't lost a daughter, you've gained a son." In a sense, the husband and wife now belong to each other's families. Traditional wedding vows include the bride and groom promising to love each other "In sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer, in good times and in bad, for as long as we both shall live." If that's not belonging to one another I don't know what is!
So the question I've been struggling with for months and months is this: Is there a limit to how much one person belongs to another? Yes, I know that we are all individuals and that no one can truly posess another. But what about belonging in each other's lives? Is there a limit? Is one person supposed to be okay when they are shut out of parts of their spouses life? Is it really healthy for two people who "belong" to one another to be so apprehensive of what another might see that they lock each other out with passwords? (Hey, this *is* the computer age, after all!). Does a joint life mean a joint checking account? And if you "belong" to someone, don't they have to put up with your shit?
I'm a modern woman with a traditional heart, I guess. Maybe things would have been easier in the days before email, instant messenger, blogs, text messaging, and the myriad of other things designed to be secretive and anonymous. The myriad of ways to lock a person out of a life. In the old days, all a man or woman had to fear was finding an illicit stack of love letters as they happened to be cleaning out a closet. Now, I don't know, it would seem that there are much more ways to be fearful. Many more ways to lose trust in one person's commitment to another. And once that trust has been breached, whether physically or emotionally, every little detail and way that you are locked out moving forward is like a tiny knife in the heart.
A person could go insane thinking about all of the people their partner is flirting with, going out with, writing to, and, to use a newer word, blogging about. And you have to tread a fine line always because you want to trust that the person you chose to "belong" in your life would never deliberately hurt you or betray that belonging. You have to make a choice on whether or not you want a little bit of belonging or a real, true, sharing and combining of lives. Or if you want more than another person is willing to give and make the decision to allow that person to belong to someone else.
I've seen so many celebrity couples split up lately. So much infidelity. So many "irreconcilable differences." It makes me want to vomit. I mean, why get married at all? Why say the vows if they are so easy to ignore? I guess "love, honor, and cherish" really mean "just don't get caught." And "In good times and in bad" really means "I didn't know you were such a bitch."
Nowadays, marriage doesn't seem to be about commitment, sharing, and belonging. It seems to be more about, "Hey, if it doesn't work out, we can always get a divorce." We've become a lazy, self-centered society, always looking for the easy way out of everything. We are afraid of a little hard work. Marriage is hard. Belonging is hard. That means you can't keep secrets, you can't have sex with other people, you put up with the inlaws even when you'd rather stick a knife in your eye. Some people aren't up to the task, but it's only because they are inherently lazy bums. And yes, even women can be bums. I'm equal opportunity.
So back to my original thought... All I've ever wanted in life is to belong. And now that means in marriage. I'd like to think that my husband and I belong to one another, but I don't know sometimes. We lived lives on our own for so long before we met. We are both set in our ways even four years after our first date. And we are both stubborn people who have a tendency to fight dirty... So here's the definition of my ideal relationship with my husband... One where we truly believe that "what's mine is yours and what's yours is mine." One where we have nothing to hide, so we don't bother with passwords. One where we finally combine our checking accounts. One where we don't have "his" friends and "my" friends, but if they are important people to one of us, they are important to both of us. One where we can't wait to show each other off. One where we belong to the exclusive group of us.
I'm told it takes years, if ever, to perfect the art of marriage. It actually gives me hope. I love hearing the stories from married people I love and respect. I love hearing "Aunt Dede" tell me about the multiple times she threw breakable objects at her husband in the early days. To listen to a woman so much in control tell me how she lost control when it came to the love of her life, well, it makes my reactions to some things pale in comparison! But if both parties are willing to grow together, they will eventually have that sense of belonging, truly belonging, to one another. And the early disagreements and stupid mistakes and silly fights over nothing will seem like someone else's life. At least that's what I'm told. I'd like to think it's true.
So I guess I'd say I'm a hopeless romantic. I believe in the power of love to cure all ills and to conquer all evil. Love is all there is. All you need is love. Love will keep us together. Love is is patient, love is kind. Love is everything. And with love will come belonging. It's inevitable. :)
Next up: Mrs. Pop's lecture on why it is bad to fight dirty with someone you love...