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.
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 Traditional marriage is outdated in that it sometimes forces people to stay in marriages due to financial, religious, and comfort reasons.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