Love and Marriage in a Modern Context

Three and a half years ago I fell in love.  It wasn’t the first time, but it was the first time that the idea of it working in the long run was a possibility in my mind.  Within five months, I’d moved in with him.  Today, we’re still living together and married.

My parents didn’t get married until I was fifteen, and even then, it was because they needed the paperwork.  For years, family tried to talk them into doing it because it would somehow ‘solemnise’ their union and confirm their commitment to each other.  I never got the feeling that my mother or father would leave while I was growing up.  They were committed to each other and especially to their kids.  Two grown up kids and thirty years later, they’re still together.  Having grown up in that type of environment, seeing so many of my friends’ parents get divorced, I didn’t think getting married in the traditional sense was a big deal.  I realized that two people had to love each other and make a commitment to each other, but I didn’t think that traditional matrimony held much value in the modern world.

Last year, my then boyfriend (now husband) and I accompanied a relative to the divorce court.  Her husband wasn’t even there.  We watched over a dozen people get divorced and most of their partners were also not present.  Some of the proceedings lasted less than ten minutes and after the bang of a hammer, they were granted a decree of divorce.  My respect for the formal institution of marriage died further after seeing how easy it actually is for people to get out of it.

Nevertheless, we ended up getting married.  It wasn’t because we felt we had to.  We had already been together for almost three years and lived with each other for most of that time.  Although our cohabitation had begun as a result of convenience, it had grown to become a commitment to each other (I realize this makes us an exception to the Cohabitation Effect, see the chapter on LOVE in The Defining Decade: Why Our Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now by Meg Jay).   We were both conscious of this commitment and did not really need the public to reaffirm our standing and feelings towards each other.  So, why did we get married?  Like my parents, we needed the paperwork.

My husband and I had two ‘weddings’.  We had a legal wedding, attended just by us and two friends who served as witnesses.  I didn’t even feel the need to have my parents there.  They knew what to expect and also told me they would be there if I needed them, but in the end I thought it unnecessary to have them travel 70 kilometers to attend a ten minute wedding in a Home Affairs office.  So we got married, then the four of us went out for lunch to celebrate.  Regardless of the informality and quickness of it all, it was special.  My bridesmaid and friend Yakima made sure it was and as a result of her efforts, we have wonderful memories and photographs of both our weddings.  At a time when we might have been a bit indifferent to the proceedings, what was in fact a major life event is captured in photographs and videos that tell the story of our love.  It wasn’t so much about the proceedings but the love between us that shone through.  I remember when the officiator asked my then-fiancé if he would take me to be his wife.  He didn’t answer.  Instead a giant grin appeared on his face.  The officiator remarked: ‘Oh, that’s definitely a yes’, and he nodded.  I remember just the feeling of warmth and love in that moment.  I didn’t need anything else.  The whole process did last less than ten minutes (and that’s only because the officiator had forgotten something and kept us waiting midway).

As for our second wedding, again it was small.  This time it was unintentional.  We had planned for many people to be there but due to financial circumstances, most of our loved ones could not make the trip from South Africa to Croatia.  Even so, it was beautiful.  My bridesmaid, husband, mother-in-law, uncle and I made our way to a rocky, deserted island in the Adriatic, where we recited our vows to each other.  It was beautiful because it simbolised the essence of our union – it was natural, spontaneous, and like in our relationship, we had to balance over a few sharp rocks, but it turned out amazing, and for a few short moments, our loved ones got a sneak peek into our private world.  Afterwards, our closest family in Croatia came over for dinner and we showcased our clumsy dance skills.

‘We all ought to feel confident we are choosing our partners and our partners are choosing us because we want to be with them, not because staying together is convenient or because breaking up is inconvenient.’ – Meg Jay

I sometimes wonder if we hadn’t needed to for administrative reasons (emigrating), if we would have gotten married at all.  The answer is probably not.  The reason is that we had already made a strong commitment to each other long before our official marriage.  Traditional marriage is outdated in that it sometimes forces people to stay in marriages due to financial, religious, and comfort reasons.  I was told a few weeks ago that we chose not to have our ceremony in front of God.  I know God was there not only on both wedding days, but on every day we decided to stick together regardless of anything that may have stood in our way.  That is enough for us and we wouldn't have had it any other way.

At the end of it all, I’m glad we did it.  There’s something grown-up about being husband and wife.  We are best friends and in the time we’ve been together, we’ve gotten to see the worst and the best of each other, accepting and understanding each other regardless.  The result is that we cannot imagine not being together, no matter what (and we’re literally together most of the time).  Our dynamic is different to most relationships.  Although much of the time I am typing on my laptop and he is busy with something outside or downstairs, we’re usually just a few steps or a loud call away from each other.  We also work on most projects together, where I do the admin and financial side, we plan together, and he completes the creation.  We make a good team and that is what marriage is about.

I love you Luke.

‘What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility.’ – Leo Tolstoy

Maja Dezulovic


  1. You are a beautiful couple! Happy anniversary, Luke and Maja!

  2. I read your story and the way you got married,thank God you did as not being married has serious spiritual consequence to those involved as God set some principles in place for His creation and ignorance thereof has its own "pay-offs". There is a saying "ignorance of the law has no excuse" so too has spiritual laws put in place by the Creator of this universe and all its inhabitants. If you had your parents and that of your husband who is also an important part of your union, at the wedding, they (especially the fathers) could have given a blessing over the "holy union", that could have been yours for the rest of your lives. You missed it, but by the grace of God (who does exist) I pray for you because I love you as does My Father in heaven....BE BLESSED!...LOVE DAD!

    1. I appreciate your comment.
      I do however believe that the tradition is archaic, especially from a practical standpoint, which is supported by statistical evidence. What you describe is the way that most people have been getting married for the last 50 years+, the divorce rate has also been rising during all that time. I think the biggest blessing Luke and I could have received from God is our commitment towards each other, because that is the only thing that will keep us together.
      As I stated above, both my parents knew what we were doing and had no issues with the way we did it, because they understand. I am sorry you felt left out.
      As a lawyer, I can also say that many parts of the law are anachronisms to society, which is why law is not static - it is a process of continual change. This is why we have courts and legislators. Imagine if we had to adhere to the same laws and interpretation of the bible as people had in the Middle Ages. I'm glad we don't, because not only would I not have been able to marry Luke, but I would have been burnt at the stake long ago, and the reason would have been based solely on my skin colour.
      I shall never condemn any two people who decide to form a union, regardless of how they choose to do it. Love is a beautiful part of life, whatever form it comes in. It is our responsibility as human beings to respect each other and celebrate love, instead of criticising the apparent formalities and 'norms' that are supposed to come with it.
      Thank you for your prayers and blessings.