Marriage has been a common theme in my life as of late. From watching my friends get engaged, to being “taken” myself, to accepting the role of maid of honor, to watching long-weathered marriages shrivel and struggle. All of these people at different stages in life are committing themselves to one another, or years later, questioning and reevaluating that commitment. After watching all of this go down, I’ve come to this conclusion: marriage isn’t about feeling good, meeting societal expectations, or sex. It’s a promise to live life a certain way. Here’s how I got to this place.
(Disclaimer: I haven’t been married for a day in my life. But on my way there I am asking questions and learning from the experience of others. I speak as a student, not a teacher.)
Ever since marriage has been on the table, I have struggled with people’s perception of me. I didn’t want to be viewed as that “ring by spring” girl who couldn’t get her head out of wedding planning. That’s just not me. But I also didn’t want to be the girl who let her BFF for life slip through her fingers because she was too scared to say yes, I’ll do this thing with you forever.
So there I was, stuck in the space between what I thought were my only two options. I struggled and wrestled with anxiety for a long time over the issue. Until I realized, maybe marriage isn’t what I think it is. Maybe it’s bigger than the small box I put it in.
Although I believe that marriage is a spiritual union of two souls, I also recognize that not everyone sees it this way. So spirituality aside, what is the point of marriage?
Two of human beings’ deepest cravings are for love and belonging. We want somewhere, someplace, someone to belong to. I think marriage is a way of fulfilling those desires. So that no matter where you go, what you do, whether you succeed or fail, you always have someone to come home to. Someone who wants you. Someone who knows you. Maybe from your experience this sounds far too idealistic. We’re human, we can’t help putting expectations on each other. Love becomes contingent on success, provision, on what the other offers me. But I don’t think that’s how marriage originally came about. It’s not about dominance or submission. It’s about partnership. Finding that person who understands your vision, is able to reflect it in their mind, and is willing to help you bring it into real life. It’s a friendship that pushes you to become the absolute best version of yourself.
Who wouldn’t want to sign onto that?
Let’s be clear, this isn’t an attempt to say I have all the answers, or to tell you if your relationship doesn’t meet all of these things it’s messed up. Every relationship looks different, and many different kinds of people can fill this role in our lives. This is simply a collection of ponderings based on my observations of many different relationships, and an attempt to settle in my brain what I have been told by society is a choice that will kill my dreams for independence. Marriage is not a burying of my individuality. It is an opportunity to enhance it.
Comments and opposing viewpoints welcome. Let’s converse together.
Media by: Di’Mond Salmond
Kalei, as someone who’s been married 20 years, I can confirm this article contains wisdom and good insight about marriage, and the message can be summed up well in this brief sentence: “It’s about partnership.”