Wednesday, June 9, 2010


A book that seems to have caught my attention with utmost interest these days, is Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert. I find it fascinating when a book crosses my path and resonates alarmingly so. The research that Elizabeth has conducted surrounding the history of marriage is extensive and compelling. Not only does she include a secular look at marriage over time but also the path that various organized religious groups have followed and espoused...

While reading this I find it interesting to have been contacted by two friends evaluating their own relationship with their respective partners in a discerning manner and what has captivated me mostly is how deeply ingrained our values are from the people we grew up with.

From my parents, I gleaned that one should be everything to one's partner. Is this unrealistic? Of course. Did they teach this to me? No, but it is what I learned...

As Elizabeth states in this unfolding story of a woman coming to grips with the idea of marriage, she does "not need a man in almost many of the ways that women have needed men over the centuries." She does "not need him to protect [her] physically because [she lives] in one of the safest societies on earth." She does "not need him to provide for [her] financially, because [she has] always been the winner of [her] own bread." In general terms a woman does not need a man to extend her "circle of kinship" nor "father her children".

If this is so in 2010, what then do I need in a marriage?

And... as husband and wife, what role do we play in each others' lives?

Gilbert believes that it comes down to companionship and adoring each other in the commitment of marriage.

As for me, I know that I want to share my life experiences and passions with my husband in hopes that he too will find joy in sharing his life experiences and passions with me. And I feel gratification in knowing that we could do this for the rest of our lives. Growing old through experiences together...

I know some who married in order to escape a situation, have a child, fill a need... When that desire no longer needs to be filled, when the child has grown etc. then what?

How important is the reason why one marries? Why did you marry? Have you had to reassess your marriage?



  1. Hi Ellyn,

    After spending 17 years as a serial monogamist (six of those legally married), my sense is one essential quality involved in being happily married is finding one person with whom as you wrote, you want to "grow old through experiences together." This is a question I ask myself when involved in a serious relationship, "is this a person I would want to grow old with?" Although I have spent my adult life in love with some remarkable men, I've never heard the little voice in my head answer affirmatively to that question. I'm questioning whether being formally (and legally) married is indeed a powerful variable in feeling committed for life to one person. I also wonder if its a chicken-and-egg problem. Does the belief you have found someone with whom to grow old through experiences beget marriage or does (can) marriage beget the desire to grow old with someone. In the fairy tales, the former is certainly the case. However, presently rewards for formally marrying your beloved don't seem to be as strong as with previous generations. hmmm. Thank you for the thought-provoking post. And, for being a wonderful twitter-sister. GNA

  2. Thank you for your thoughts. I think it is amazing that marriage is in constant evolution... not only our thoughts and beliefs surrounding it but also marriage and law.

    I read Elizabeth Gilbert's book eat, pray, love at a time when I was re-evaluating my own marriage or commitment to a partner and saw myself on the page of her book. I had no idea that her life would take a turn in this manner as I am certain she too did not but it is refreshing to see her examine it so closely.

    As always, I appreciate your articulate and heartfelt thoughts.