• Fri, Nov 19 2010

Why I Want To Get Married

4 in 10 people believe that marriage is becoming obsolete. I’m not one of them.

Look, I know the arguments against it. Growing up my mom was a big proponent of “marriage is for fools.” Now, my mom has been happily married for over 30 years, so no one really takes her seriously when she says things like that, but it meant that I spent a lot of time drawing imaginary “my book party” dresses instead of wedding dresses as a kid.

Mom quite rightly pointed out that there’s no real need to get married. You can just keep living with someone! For as long as you feel like it! Who needs marriage? Not us, no sir, not in this modern age. We can all just be free spirits who stay together as long as the love lasts!

She has a point. We can, we definitely can, and no one will judge you for it (or not judge you too much. They’re not going to ostracize you).

And, obviously, there are bad reasons to want to get married. What? Lording it over gay people. That would be a bad reason.

I’m going to say that wanting a day when you’re a pretty, pretty princess is an only slightly less bad reason. Because I do not know the nation where princesses force all their friends into some horrifying, spastic nervous-tic version of the Electric Slide while screaming about how the salads weren’t good enough (happened!) but that nation sounds like, maybe, North Korea.

Christ, I hate the idea of having a wedding. I can’t imagine anything more stressful. My idea of a good wedding would just be getting some friends and family together at City Hall on a random, rainy Tuesday and then afterwards, we could go out and eat potato pancakes. At Veselka. That’s all I want from a wedding.

But I love the idea of being married.

Because I believe in vows. I really do believe that they matter. Because by standing up there and taking vows that you’re going to put someone else’s needs above your wants, that you’ll work to be compassionate, that you’ll try to be kind and attentive, and all the others things that go with being married, well, I just think that’s an act of such great faith. Not in your partner – because your partner really has nothing to do with that, except that you hope that they say the same and mean it – but in ourselves. The act of getting married seems like a testament to our belief that we can be good to another person forever.

The fact that anyone wants to do that – wants to work to make someone else happy, even when it means being selfless – is amazing. It’s amazing to an extent that’s it’s really, really shocking, at least to me. Because we do scumbag shit all the time. I sometimes marvel that as a group we aren’t all still smearing our feces around in caves while emitting guttural noises that translate to “fuck you buddy, fuck you” at everyone. It seems like it’s part of everyone’s nature to be a real asshole. But by getting married, you promise God, or your family, or whoever matters to you, that you can do better. And that you’re willing to make empathy, and patience and so many other good things defining features of your life (as opposed to things you practice when you feel like it, before going home to drink vodka and watch Law and Order: SVU alone). Marriage strikes me as one of the ultimate testaments to the fact that man may be in the gutter, but we’re looking to the stars.

I hope that one day I meet someone who brings that out in me.

And it is sort of practical, right? If you’re going to have kids, then I think those are good values to work on cultivating beforehand. You know. With someone who isn’t a turkey meatloaf.

So, that. And tax breaks. Tax breaks, obviously, are a terrific reason.

And because – this may be the most important reason of all – judging from the picture, getting married might turn you into a dinosaur. Coolest. Thing. Ever.

Share This Post:
  • Treetopbirdy

    Thank you so much for this. It’s… just a lovely post.
    I’ve been married for 14 years and it absolutely rules.

  • Charley

    I am getting married on New Years day. Thank you for validating my impending nuptials! :)

  • Outshined

    Technically, Godzilla is not a dinosaur but that is a freaking awesome picture.

  • Tolerable

    Why do you think you have to marry someone to vow to be faithful and truly commit? Love is in the heart, not on a piece of paper. That paper is meaningless anyway, as over half of people who sign it are later signing divorce papers.

    • Eileen

      She didn’t say that at all! Obviously you can have commitment without marriage. But a marriage is essentially a promise – secularly, to the government, or to God if you believe in that – made publicly, in front of everyone that you love, that you’re spending the rest of your life with someone. The “piece of paper” is as meaningful as the people who sign it make it, but the words themselves and the act of saying them for all the world to hear is a big deal when you stop to think about it.

  • Michelle

    It’s so refreshing to read “Marriage is worth doing.” Seems like all I hear, read, and see is a bunch of bitching about married life and how *awful* it is. Well, I’ve been married for quite awhile now, and I think it’s great.

    Really, really great.

    And no, I don’t miss being single. Because that’s just how great being married is.

    Of course, all that awesomeness depends on (1) the quality of the person you marry, (2) the willingness of each partner to tune into the needs of the other person, and (3) the ability to say ‘I’m sorry.’

    Anyhow–I highly recommend marriage for those who are inclined to long-term relationships and tax breaks. :)

  • Bill

    Great post, Jennifer!

    We’ve been married 34 and a half years. It is truly wonderful. Not always easy, but worth every effort. And it starts with commitment as you so eloquently point out. Vows.

    To those who say the ceremony and “paper” don’t matter, I say, “Oh really? If it’s just the same, why are so many balking at it?” Because it is NOT the same. Making a promise of commitment which can be ended by simply saying “Goodbye” and walking out the door is quite different from putting your commitment where your mouth is, so to speak, and entering a binding legal contract together with public vows.

    Sure, lots of marriages end in divorce. Sadly. For some, I imagine it is because they entered the marriage with a “let’s see it it works” mindset. Set for failure. Others start with good intentions but go astray. But is the paper meaningless? No, it is not. Where it’s easy to walk out on a living together “commitment,” a divorce is an expensive and messy step. If nothing else, it serves as a “Whoa. Stop and think about this again” road sign.

    What I advised my future sons-in-law was, “The emotion and attraction is there. Not as you enter marriage, start with commitment. That’s what makes it work. Then focus on friendship. Those two together are what makes ‘love.’ The emotions (which Hollywood and our culture try to sell as ‘love’ in and of themselves) ebb and flow.”

    The commitment–proven by vows–is the soil in which the successful and happy marriage can grow.

  • Laura

    I love this post, thanks Jennifer! How does it feel to have many comments and not get called the C-word ;)

  • erna

    FANTASTIC thoughts to ponder. Thanks!

  • Aiene

    It’s about time someone still believed in marriage! All I come across are people whinning about how marriage is dead and that as long as they are living together and are ‘soulmates’ they have the same relationship as being married. I’m glad someone was able to explain it so well! It’s the commitment and the vows that make a marriage. Too many people today are divorcing because they were not looking closely and taking seriously their vows. Words can sound really pretty but if there is no commitment behind them, it is meaningless. I hope that when I get married that I and my future spouse will carefully think about the vows we are about to committ and realize that even though we cannot see the future, we will do our best to keep the committment we made in our vows because it is a promise. I think when a lot of couples say, “As long as we both shall live,” they are really thinking, “As long as I am happy all the time and get what I want.”

  • Mirabel

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