In praise of the institution of marriage

I think of our wedding guests as godparents to our marriage -- people who we can lean on if we need support in our commitment to one another.

I think of our wedding guests as godparents to our marriage — people we can lean on if we need support in our commitment to one another.

Lately I feel almost as old fashioned as if I were getting out of a horse-drawn carriage in a giant bustled dress.

I’m a fan of marriage.

Mind you, I’m a fan of marriage to the right person — which is a big caveat — but still, I feel out of step with much of our generation and definitely of those younger.

We know numerous people who got pregnant either before getting married or without getting married, moved in together without any plans to get married or as a trial run to marriage, and who generally regard marriage as unnecessary paperwork. They’re happy, so who needs the government’s documentation of their relationship?

John and I both lived with previous partners, so we have first-hand experience in how that’s different from getting hitched.

For me, marriage is more than a piece of paper in a couple of important ways:

  • It’s powerful to stand up in front of family and friends and declare in no uncertain terms that this is forever. Sure, we all know divorce exists, but plenty of people have also seen businesses fail and they still optimistically hang out their “grand opening” banner when they chase their own dreams. That moment of formalizing our commitment felt like both a promise to each other and enlisting our guests in the accountability of making it last. I think of our wedding guests as godparents to our relationship. Part of our wedding ceremony explicitly asked them to declare that they would support our commitment, just as we said “I do” to one another.
  • When I lived with my ex-fiance, on some level I was always aware there was an escape clause. Yes, it would take finding another apartment and packing my stuff, but that’s not much different from moving to a new town for a job. By contrast, I feel the permanence of marriage. Again, I know divorce exists. My parents divorced when I was young, several of our friends are divorced. But it feels bigger to contemplate filing for divorce, disentangling not just belongings but bank accounts, life insurance and all the rest. We’re more integrated on so many levels, including how we live now and how we plan for the future, and that affects how I think about conflict in our relationship. It feels like a bump in the road, not a reason to exit the highway.

This isn’t to say I disapprove of friends who make different choices, whether that’s not getting married or ending a marriage. If you’re happy and it works for you, that’s what matters.

But I’m grateful we got married 13 years ago, and I feel our marriage is getting better as the years go by. Even if that makes me old fashioned.

More posts about marriage:

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Categories: home and family, lifestyle

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  1. Til death do us part ain’t easy « Newvine Growing

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