A certain popular television series got me thinking tonight. When do you know it’s right to join your life to another? To add him or her to your hub of your community? To allow him or her access to your other communities?
When do you know it’s right to become married?
I say “become married” rather than “get married” because I do not believe that marriage is something you acquire. Achieve, perhaps, grow into, most certainly, but pick up like eggs and milk from the corner store? No.
Also, I believe it is possible to become married without having a wedding. If you throw the law out of it (which it should be), and if you throw out definitions using variations of the same word (sloppy), then we see the third definition in Merriam-Webster as being:
Which is entirely possible to develop without celebrating it, without publicly stated vows, without rings or things or kitchen sinks…
Now, I am not discounting the importance of weddings. I do not believe that in general they are frivolous affairs which change nothing in any relationship. I believe they can be quite transformative, but that every wedding may not necessarily be so.
I’m simply questioning the all-encompassing significance our society places on the altar. Is it truly necessary to have a wedding in order to enter that state of intimate union with another?
And, as in the case of our fine characters who inspired this line of thought, can a relationship survive one of the two not making it to the altar? How devastating to the relationship must it be?
I can understand that to the individual left waiting it must be a tremendous blow to the ego, and to your faith and trust in the other person, and that latter part necessitates that it must affect the relationship – but must it be devastating?
An intimate or close union. Union. That requires two people, two wants, two needs, two schedules, and two perspectives to consider.
And I believe one can be entirely ready for a marriage, for an intimate union, for a partnership of that magnitude, and yet, not be ready for a wedding.
Obviously communication is key, but if you are planning a wedding (and hopefully the after-wedding) with a person, and you show up on the day, brimming with certainty and anticipation and a certain amount of trepidation… and that person simply doesn’t arrive… Does it change who he or she is? Does it change who he or she is to you? Does it change what you want from/with him or her? Do you stop loving him and wanting her and needing him or her?
Or can you accept that it happened and move on and still be with him or her?
Is that too much? Is it an act devoid of self-respect to stay on? To continue the relationship after inconsideration and perceived rejection and (typically) intimate public humiliation?
Obviously, one cannot know until one is in such a position, but I can tell you what I hope from myself, and my partners:
Perhaps I am too romantic. Perhaps I was raised by parents who demonstrated such unconditional love that I can’t imagine any singular act on it’s own changing that type of bond.
But that’s just it.
“I love you forever” doesn’t come with caveats. Unless you put them there.
Perhaps it’s the divorced child in me, but I’ve had enough of secrets and ifs and situational relationships. A marriage is not the place for them. Not for me, anyhow. By the time I’m looking down an aisle (or trail, or path, or ribbon, or slip’n’slide – whatever we set up), I would hope that I am already considering that person waiting for me to be my partner, and for I to be his or hers. We would already be family. Our marriage would already have begun, and would not be solely dependent on a wedding happening that hour, that day, or at all.
You shouldn’t have to say “I’ll have an intimate union with you, only after we sign documents/speak vows/party with family,” it should be a process. An ongoing ever-evolving process. I hope I wake up everyday from the moment I know that person to be part of my family and think to myself “Today, I marry you” whether there’s a wedding or not.
What do you hope for in such an experience? Please share your story below.