On Marriage, Part 2: Whereby I Explain Why Marriage Matters
This is Part 2 of my two part contribution to the Forward Thinking project on this months topic “What Does Marriage Mean To You?” The Forward Thinking Project is an amazing online community project started by Libby Anne of Love, Joy, Feminism and Daniel Finke of Camels With Hammers. For more information or how you can contribute click on the links above.
Part 1 is a satirical imagined conversation between a father and son regarding the meaning of marriage. This post is my personal views on what marriage- and specifically my marriage- means to me.
I’m married to the most complex, wonderful and beautiful woman I know. My wife is my saviour and my nemesis. If Paul was right when he spoke in Corinth- that love is patient, love is kind, it is not proud; love protects, trusts, perseveres- then it is true that my wife is the embodiment of love in my life.
To be honest with you, neither my wife nor I really wanted get married. We lived together for 6 years before we were married. We already had two children (and a third on the way). We owned a house together. In every way that someone quantifies marriage as a lifestyle, we had been married for years before we ever made it “official”.
So why get married?
We- my wife and I- asked ourselves this question. Are we somehow bowing to social pressure? Are we quantifying our relationship by a social convention? Is there any real value to choosing to be married as opposed to living as a married couple? For us marriage was still something that was meaningful- and I’ll tell you why:
Marriage is more than just a social convention. It is more than a legal recognition of your bond to one another. It is not a mere contract, a religious act, or a promise to some imagined covenant with God. It is what it has always been; marriage is the sharing of your love with your family, community, and friends. Some choose to share that with their community in religious imagery and language, some choose to make that expression in a way that is unique and personal. What all marriages have in common is that they are a recognizable symbol of something that transcends the institution itself.
To be unmarried is not to take away from the reality of being in love, or committed, or together- to be unmarried is merely to deprive us of our cultural language-
It is to ask us to succinctly describe a sunset…..
to a blind man……
in sign language.
So when I tell you I am married it doesn’t change the way I feel about the person I chose to marry. It doesn’t make my love any more or less real. It doesn’t make my love and commitment any better- objectively- than a couple who chose not to be married. What it does it make my relationship relateable. It makes my relationship something that has a meaning easily shared with others. When I tell you I’m married I am giving you a dissertation in a single word.
I started this post by telling you how I feel about my wife; all of it is true, and more. I could have written a million metaphors and I still wouldn’t have given my wife her due. Though my words remind me of all the things that make me love her, they certainly constitute a too-long explanation to you of how we relate to one another. All you need to know is what we all know to be the ideals of a marriage: