Photo Credit: Courtesy Alanis Morissette
In her second blog for the iVillage blog series CelebVillage, multiplatinum-selling singer Alanis Morissette shares her path to deciding to walk down the aisle with rapper husband Mario "Souleye" Treadway in June 2010.
I was 12 when I first really thought about marriage. As an institution, it had long been threatened by skyrocketing divorce rates, the feminist movement, the 60’s freedom movement, as well as by the evolutionary imperative to update an antiquated system. A high percentage of people were either getting divorced and swearing off marriage altogether, or they were continuing to live so-called coupled lives of quiet desperation and resignation.
If I was to be part of the marriage conversation at all, I was not prepared to make a lifelong decision based on adherence to or rebellion toward something. There had to be a third way! I had to find or come up with a new definition of why I would -- with all these new reasons not to get married abounding -- still jump the broom and be "made an honest woman out of" (as though I’d been dishonest the whole time -- ha!). And so began my passionate foray into all-things-research around a simple question: Why would I even entertain getting married?
Looking back I can see that I was both ashamed for how isolated I felt in my dearly held value system of monogamous commitment-for-the-long-and-windy-haul, and I also wanted so badly to prove that I was open to all approaches, lest mine seem totalitarian (read: I’d been made fun of for what I believed in in so many of my hipster circles).
I wanted to be wrong about what I believed, if for no other reason than I wouldn’t have had to tortuously date for so long with no outbreath of wedding-trigger-pulling! I wanted to get down to the business of my dream come true! Waiting for “the one” and sidestepping almosts while holding firm to a vision was not for the impatient of heart. And so it was with this eye-on-the-prize way of thinking that I spent the last two and some odd decades doing my own personal research and development toward a new model for marriage.
Like any good researcher who wasn’t sure that what they wanted to find existed, I spent my time attempting to try (almost) every current romantic relationship model on for size:
- I tried pretending not to be who I was (that was fun).
- I tried being the disempowered beta female (yeah, right).
- I tried long-distance relationships (even more fun!).
- I tried big age gap relationships.
- I tried high and low chemistry relationships.
- I tried good-in-theory-but-not-in-practice relationships.
- I tried ones where I chased (oops) and ones where I sat still (better).
- I tried ones that were monogamous and ones that were, well, not monogamous (that one lasted the length of the conversation about how to navigate such things).
But the more the models I tried on that didn’t work, the more the model I held near and dear to my heart became concrete in my mind and heart. After a while, this dream relationship seemed to be less a fantasy and more a reality, albeit a potentially difficult one to find.
What I yearned for was a relationship that took into account that I was a female animal like any other: I yearned for security, protection, generosity and partnership like anyone else, and I yearned for babies too. I was also a spiritual being, yearning for consciousness-raising and the promise of wholeness through the committed relationship alchemy that was me and another with two feet in. I qualify two feet in because where I live, in Hollywood, it’s all too easy to be married for the infatuation of it all, and have it all come undone as quickly as it arose, rather than for it to be the sweltering sweat lodge of truth that I always yearned for marriage to be.
I craved a marriage that was entered into for deliberate reasons, not one where, “I’ll see where this goes and if the heat in the kitchen gets a little too hot, I’ll jump ship.” I wanted a marriage that woke me and my beloved up out of our slumbering! I wanted a marriage where the height of intimacy and healing and growth were par for the matrimony course. I wanted a marriage where conflict was an invitation to growth, and it indicated a beginning of something -- not the end!
I wanted a marriage that I entered into with great consideration based on self-knowledge and open eyes while dating, where our true norths were similar, where our values were matched, where our missions were aligned -- knowing that if those bases were covered, persevering through the other incompatibilities would then be made possible.
I wanted a marriage that I entered into neither too quickly nor too cavalierly. And, perhaps most importantly, I wanted a marriage where I could be the fiery yet tender-hearted alpha female that I am, sans wings being clipped. I wanted my marriage to require something of me. I wanted the kitchen to get hot. I was a moth that wanted to be swallowed into the flame. I wanted my man to demand that I grow beyond my defense mechanisms. I wanted to influence and be influenced over time.
As has always been the case for me: be careful what you wish for. Now I find myself in a marriage where the rubber is at last hitting the road, where everything I had intellectually grasped is being asked for me to LIVE. What was once mere knowledge has segued into this sacred, surprising application:
- Where stretching to meet the needs of my partner, however difficult the task, is my star of Bethlehem.
- Where I am asked to be vulnerable (yikes), responsible (lordy lordy), and to step out of my self-absorption (oh no)!
- Where I am asked to be big, assertive, to come out of denial, to be accountable, to grow up.
- Where the blending of my connection with the divine and my connection with my innermost self and my connection with him all meld into one great commitment to love.
- Where I trade short-term chemistry for long-term harmony. I trade highs and lows for consistent warmth. Dictatorialism makes room for true win-win partnership. My self-gratification makes room for maturation. Care is begotten because of empathy, not because we’re entitled to it. Love goes from simply a feeling to an action where one breaks into two, and then back to one again. And friendship gets really, really (really) sexy.
I now spend an inordinate amount of time outside of my habitual behavior wheelhouse and slowly, almost imperceptibly, I am beginning to become unrecognizable, knowing that this will eventually feel familiar and HOME. I thought getting married would be beautiful -- and it is. I thought marriage would be hard -- and it is. And I thought someone whose bones I would want to jump who also shared my new definition of marriage would be hard to find -- and it was. But as my dear friend said to me during a particularly despair-filled moment, “You only have to find one.” And I did. And I’m so grateful I kept the flame vision alive, and didn’t give up before I met him.