Mike and I have been dating for roughly six years and one of the most commonly asked questions of us is: When are you two going to get married- you know tie the knot, make a family, take the plunge??? Which leaves me in the rather awkward position of saying....never. Actually I turn the question around and ask them why I would want to commit myself to an institution that fails more often than it succeeds. But I realize that in most cases I talking to a wall, because the idea of marriage is so readily accepted in society that to oppose such an act is blasphemy, or at least borderline insanity.
I've long shied away from addressing the topic, so clearly linked to my views on religion to spare my family any hurt this belief causes. However, my good friend Kirsten Uhler (kirstenuhler.com) recently wrote a paper on traditional marriage. It required hours of research and from conception I was anxious to read her thoughts on the matter. There were several points made in her paper that reflected my own views toward marriage, and I thought to myself....what a good ice-breaker!! And while this post is in no way meant to be a comprehensive argument against marriage, I am merely attempting to establish a few...points of reason.
Most people argue that by repeating verbatim a set a words in front of a person of questionable integrity that your relationship is magically transformed to something that transcends differences and into self created euphoria. The reality could not be further from the truth. In all likelihood, your relationship will continue on the same path it trod prior to 'the happiest day of your life'. While I realize the words symbolize a commitment to each other, that commitment is entirely attainable outside of a legal or religious realm. What's interesting to me is that same commitment that was supposed to draw the couple closer is often the same commitment that serves as their demise. Marriage lulls you into a sense of complacency and comfort. Standards are relaxed and soon the very traits that attracted you towards your companion are the very things which are soon lost in the tide of time.
One of my original discomforts with marriage was the fact that I had to pick just ONE person to share my ENTIRE life with, often at age when self discovery has just begun. The very idea that two people can maintain a relationship that fulfills all of their physical and emotional needs is slim, as shown by the statistics. I believe that it is possible, even convenient to be able to find such a person, but the reality of the situation is that those people at some point will grow in different directions. It is then, as adults we should acknowledge that fact, and move on in a more positive direction instead of pressing forward in what can only be a oppressive relationship in some sense or another.
Kirsten Uhler, in her paper on traditional marriage (kirstenuhler.com) nailed down another key argument. "I believe structure, stabilization, security, and consistency can be achieved without a legal marriage contract. A stable "family unit" can exist in a non-traditional sense." God aside, those are exactly the sentiments and judgements an unmarried couple is subject to regardless of reality.
The vows you repeat come with no 'club' manual divulging the secrets to maintaining a happy relationships, you simply stand alongside the billions of other couples trying to see past differences and share your life with someone who, for the moment at least...makes you smile, laugh, kiss, and cry.
Six years out, Mike and I continue to stay in shape, try new things, listen and address each others problems, aggravate, romance, and support one another. We continually ask about each others happiness and satisfaction in the relationship and have established a happy open relationship with each other based honesty, trust, and love. We both know that if the other person is not happy, we would rather say good-bye to see them happy than have them stick around and be miserable. I wouldn't have it any other way.
p.s. I mean really...drawing up a legal document that evolves around a passion based emotion?? Really??