My parents have been married 55 years. Marriage is not only a strong tradition in my family, it is a requirement; one that made me question it's necessity at a very young age.
I was not your typical girl growing up and just because I come from a family where everyone is married til death, doesn't mean I agree with their choices. But still I fell prey to the tradition, married young, had children and like everyone else, felt content in the bliss of what I thought I was supposed to feel. The draw was being on my own and living the life of a grown up, not having rules to adhere to, waking up any time I wanted and feeling quite independent.
Like my mother, I wore white, had a veil that covered my face, walked down the isle in a Roman Catholic church, given away by my father, blessed by a Roman Catholic priest, surrounded by family, friends, lots of candles and way more praying. When the marriage failed, it became increasingly evident that the questions I had as a child that were not answered, had now turned into obstacles in every relationship I've had.
Why did I really get married? I wanted the ring, the dress, the shoes, the cake and of course the party filled with friends, family and music. Well, all except the Macarena, Electric Slide and the dreaded Chicken Dance.
The picture of a man on bent knee holding a box with a ring in it, using it as bait to get the woman to belong to him never made sense to me. Why does he have to buy her anything in exchange for something that should already be his? “With this ring, I thee buy” seems more appropriate.
Forget the courtship, the expectations, the pressures and let's jump to the ceremony; A circus complete with the ring master, who is the ordained minister who no doubt bought their license online yet you feel they are powerful enough to bless your union foreverrrrrrrrrr with their mighty plastic stamp on paper. Then you have the elephants, prancing ponies, and of course my favorite, the clowns, all sitting in their tiny chairs drinking too much and making jokes, clinking their glasses so the bride and groom will kiss. Add a few screaming children and you have a wedding party that cost too much money from the brides dress to the hall all the way to the alcohol and food. The only thing missing is the circus theme music.
We dress up, wear silly hats, carry a bunch of flowers, pose for photos to show our teeth to strangers, announce it in newspapers, drive down the street with painted cars and clanging cans with "Just Married" signs on the windows. Why do we do all that?
What is this intense need to belong? Why do we feel so compelled to announce, parade, show off and share? I'm not sure but social networking certainly knows or they wouldn't be so popular.
Don't get me wrong. I don't hate weddings. I love parties and people and believe it or not, although my friends know how I feel, they still invite me to theirs. I will never say never even to myself. It is only my opinion that getting married is an exploitation of something very personal between two people. A ring is nice but I put no price on what I'm worth, just as I put no price on the lucky man who will convince me that this is something I need.
Tradition is not set in stone for you to follow, so if you follow it, you are a, well, follower. If the majority does it, it's probably correct. And the majority rules, right? We know this is not true. But as humans, we have an instinctual pressure to conform, to fit in, join groups, be accepted into the normalcy of society regardless what our gut tells us or what's in our minds and hearts. This is why I believe we live unhappy lives. We aren't living it for ourselves. We are living it for others. We are appeasing by nature.
Being different and standing outside the box is certainly not for everyone. Those are the dangerous types we don't mess with, the freaks, the ones we call "crazy", the ones our mothers warned us about. But truthfully, aren't they more fun? And deep down, don't we all have this insatiable desire to be like them at some point?
Why do we need the paper we sign to tell us we are a couple? The only thing this paper does is guarantee that you lose 50% of your earnings and or property. Add a child, you lost a little more, so what do you do? You feel trapped, suffocated. You wander, leave. Hence divorce rates at a staggering 62% as of 2013, regardless what the media wants you to believe. They make too much money to tell you the truth. Weddings = Money. Where is love in this?
Are you not strong enough to stand on your own love that you need to prove it to the rest of your friends and family? Do they not know you are committed in this relationship? Why do you feel the need to validate that to anyone? Or maybe, just maybe, you feel you need to validate it to yourselves because somehow you can't see it anymore and by putting the circus together, you made it something more tangible.
The reasons we get married are many. Here are just a few:
1. We've been together for so long, everyone expects it. It's "time".
Why? Is there a score card you keep and after a few years you have to get married or you break up? Who's idea was that?
2. I feel old. If I don't get married now, I'll have to start dating again. Ugh!
Guess maybe you felt being with someone is better than being alone. That says a lot about how you feel in your own company, or the confidence you have in finding someone else.
3. I don't want to lose this person. If we don't get married, they will leave me.
If you feel they would leave you, then are they not bullying and manipulating you into submission on what they want? If you don't give into their demands, what happens to your needs? Don't they matter?
4. We're pregnant. It's the right thing to do.
Last time I checked, you don't have to be married to have a child. A child doesn't care if you're married or not, only that you're happy. You can give a child your name if it's really your child and getting married to do that is a poor excuse. Depending on the woman, it can also be a trap.
5. I feel guilty because I messed up. Getting married will clear the slate and give them what they've always wanted. I owe them that much.
If it's not what you really want, it will catch up to you sooner or later. Why do you put yourself through a fallacy that wastes everyone's time? Doing something for someone else and convincing yourself you're doing it for the greater good never works because you live a life of denial. And reality has a way of finding denial and kicking its ass. You will always lose.
What would happen if we didn't get married? What if we all pulled a Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell? What if we said "I love you" in the dark, looked into each others eyes and said "screw everybody" and had a private party for two, celebrating "us" and how we feel, how we found each other and our beautiful story alone? And if we felt the need for people, why not just throw a party, invite all our friends and family “just because”? No gifts but plenty of cake! Would they think less of us? Would they not believe we are in love or that we're happy? And what if they don't? Should we care?
It doesn't have to mean anything in the end, as long as we believe it in ourselves. We prove our love when we are alone without words, in silence, in darkness, in distance, in the subtlety of our whispers and memories we keep, for no matter how long its been. Time does not measure love. That connection we share replaces any ring, that hug is better than any flowers you can hold and that kiss is a vow all on its own. If we can't believe in us, then no one else will. Love is simple.
Why isn't that enough?