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January 25 2006

<Molly> very well put. your entry, that is.

<Brennen> Thanks. By the end there I was kind of thinking of the last phone conversation we had, which (the conversation I mean) felt something like others I've had lately. I may not be making any sense.

<Brent> Not sure if you meant to make this association, but employment and marriage are very much ''not'' compromises.

<Brennen> Really?

<alan> they don't have to be compromises, of course, but they usually are. social pressures are kicking in at this age. brennen's feeling it. i'm feeling it. get a stable job, pay off debt, get wife, 3 kids and a blog...did i say blog i mean dog.

now of course i do see some people just doing their thing and that thing happens to be working on something they're really into, or realizing they've found the right person and getting hitched (why not?). but i sense most people are just going through the motions because it's what's expected of them. heck, i'm often tempted to just break down and conform myself, would be easier...less explaining to do...

<Stephen> Ah, let me speak from experience and say that marriage is very much a compromise. Damn fun, but still a compromise.

Awesome post btw. BA of History majors unite and...tell stories. I like to try and convince hiring managers for tech jobs that, although I have a history degree, I just might know a thing or two about computers. I haven't succeeded yet, but it's good hobby, eh? :-) :-| :-/ :-( >:-O

<Brennen> I don't think that marriage or the way you make your living are, in the most negative sense, ''inevitably'' compromising - say of values, independence, identity.

But like Stephen says. Marriage is like any serious relationship - like almost any friendship, even - a compromise. It has to be. I've lived with Elizabeth for 10 months, give or take. I won't equate that precisely to being married, but it shares most of the pressures and the day to day experience. I think being with anyone is constant give and take; sharing a house & bed only intensify that. And they intensify it in the ways that have the most to do with your identity.

As to jobs. I know almost no one who survives on the labor they find most meaningful. For all but a tiny minority, a job is the definition of compromise: You don't like what you're doing well enough to do it without pay. Even people who find livable work in a good field usually aren't doing what they're most specifically passionate about. Most people in the world do whatever shit job they have to in order not to starve.

I think the structure & most of the important mechanisms of this civilization work against the kind of employment that's tolerable without a harmful sacrifice of principles or identity, let alone the idea of a meaningful vocation. I feel pretty much the same way about marriage. Alan's right - they usually are. <Brent> Marriage requires compromises (many of them), but it is not--in and of itself--a compromise. A marriage is a decision, and a commitment.

<Stephen> I think our discussing stems from differing definitions of compromise. I think you, Brent, are speak of a compromise as a negative or resigned settlement (i.e. something that comes after a disagreement). I am thinking of marriage (or long-term living) as a compromise as an agreement between two people to not think only of themselves; to compromise their goals, expectations, dreams, indeed their very lives with that of the other.

Sarah and I did live together for a couple of years before we were married. In our experience at least, there's not a lot of difference between the two. So I would certainly equate long-term living with marriage. The only real difference is legalese.

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last edited April 29, 2008