Today, I was asked for about the 476th time, “Are you nervous about getting married?!” And for the 476th time I explained that I’m not nervous at all—that I’m excited to officially marry Russell, that I feel like we’re already married, that I’m confident in our relationship, that spending the rest of my life with him is joyous, not scary.
Eight months ago when I got engaged, I would have never thought this would be the most common question. I can’t help but wonder—how did marriage become equated with nerves?
I’ve asked this question to a number of my friends, all of whom return the same basic answer: maybe a lot of people are just scared of the life-long commitment to one person.
Wait—isn’t that the very definition of marriage? A legal and spiritual commitment to one person for the rest of your life? For better and worse. In sickness and in health. If you’re scared of commitment or question the commitment in your relationship, why are you getting married in the first place?
As we’re all aware, today’s divorce rate hovers around 50 percent. In a marriage and family class in college, we spent much of our time discussing whether marriage today was better or worse than marriages of the past—you know, back when people didn’t get divorced. At the end of the semester, we decided that it’s different—both better and worse.
Our teacher went on to explain that relationships today often put too much focus on love. Fairy tales and romantic comedies have taught us to believe that there exists the kind of love that can save you, that can fulfill you, that can make everything in life perfect—that love is all we need to live happily ever after. As a result, people often fall in love and assume the relationship is ready for marriage. When that love doesn’t live up to the fairy tale we expect, the marriage often starts heading toward divorce.
Since we put so much emphasis on love today, it seems we too often forget about the other parts of a successful relationship: teamwork, communication, devotion, compromise, sacrifice, respect, loyalty, and, of course, commitment.
To quote my fiancé, “Love is the easy part. For a relationship to be truly lasting, you have to address the more difficult aspects: those that solidify love and create a stable and mutually beneficial partnership between two people.”