I find it fascinating the number of women I know who don’t want to get married. Many of them are in long-term, committed relationships, but there is no desire to take it to the next step. They just don’t see the point in it.
For a long time, I couldn’t really put words behind my desire to get married. For a while now, Russell and I have been in a very committed relationship. Our marriage certainly isn’t a way to ensure that the relationship won’t end; even if we didn’t get married, I don’t think the relationship would have a different fate. The marriage has nothing to do with finances, like so many historical marriages did. Getting married won’t give us a better relationship or make us better parents.
In a lot of ways, it does seem that the institution of marriage is becoming less necessary in our society.
I recently finished reading the book Committed—the story of an anti-marriage woman coming to grips with what marriage means when she is forced to marry her Brazilian boyfriend so that he isn’t deported. The author (who also wrote Eat, Pray, Love) explores marriages in other cultures and in other times, comparing them to modern American marriages. In so many other contexts, marriage makes sense, in the way that it orders society, brings security, helps define property and pass it through generations. In our society, many of those things just aren’t applicable.
But, there must be a reason that so many people (myself included) are running to get married. I’m sure if you asked each person, they would have wildly different reasons for why they want to get married.
The wedding planning process has really forced me to think about my reasons. As I’ve written vows, thought about the ceremony, and completed pre-marital lessons, I have had to think about and communicate what this marriage means for me.
It turns out, it means a lot. There is a tradition aspect. The desire to share my joy with friends and family. Formalizing my relationship. Saying to the world, “Russell is mine, and I am his.” Showing the seriousness of our feelings and commitment. And the list goes on…
Yesterday, I came across a sentiment that really resonated with me: that a consensual, loving, respectful marriage is the closest relationship that two human beings can have. At first, I kinda wrote this off, thinking that I won’t be closer to Russell in two weeks than I am now—that my feelings probably won’t be deeper just because we’re now married.
But, after I thought about it some, it saw the truth in the statement. Today, we are two, independent people, who happen to be in love, live together, and have two dogs. We certainly make decisions together and consider the other person. But, when it comes down to it, we are still completely autonomous. In two weeks, that will change. We will be an interdependent family unit. We will be legally and spiritually one.
You can’t get much closer than that.