Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Love. And marriage?

I learned something about myself today. I do not believe in the sanctity of marriage.

Noting my single mother lifestyle, you may have already guessed this about me.

But I never really thought about it using these terms until today, when I read this singlemommyhood.com post about the right time to move in together. For many of my fellow readers, the right time is: After The Wedding. For some, clearly, a ring equals commitment. No ring? No commitment.

Ultimately, that's what the whole conversation boiled down to: commitment. And that is what it should boil down to, in my opinion, especially with children involved. But I simply can't agree with the assertion that marriage is the only way to get that commitment.

And so we're back to my point: I don't believe in the sanctity of marriage.

There are two reasons for this, the first being fairly obvious: I am not a religious person, and it is therefore impossible for me to view marriage as a holy union. The second reason goes along with the first. Without the God factor, marriage is a union of a man and a woman (at least until we get off our asses and legalize same-sex marriage), plus a piece of paper filed with the state.

That piece of paper, some would argue, makes the relationship more secure; more final. But does it, really? The divorce rate in this country would beg to differ.

But it makes you feel different, doesn't it? Marriage. I'll admit, I felt different after marrying my (now ex) husband - and we lived together for five years before getting married. But I didn't feel different upon filing the marriage certificate. I felt that way because I'd gone through the ceremony of publicly proclaiming my union. I could have had the marriage ceremony without filing that piece of paper. Would I have been any less married? Other than in a legal sense? Is the legality of the union what defines my relationship?

Now, lest you think I'm just a bitter divorcee, I am not saying I don't believe in marriage. I might even get married again someday. I just don't believe in its sanctity. Is a married couple's relationship stronger than a committed-but-not-married couple's relationship? More traditional, certainly; but more committed, more sacred? I'm not prepared to go that far.

So I'll say it one last time: I don't believe in the sanctity of marriage. I do, however, believe in the sanctity of relationships; of committed, monogamous love. Marriage certificate optional.


Single Mom Seeking said...

First, thanks so much for the link love. I really appreciated your honest and open comment at Singlemommyhood.

Thank you so much for continuing the conversation here -- this really is a deep topic.

In the end, I do think that everyone agrees: it's all about commitment.

Some folks happen to define that word in different ways. I love hearing your definition.

Ms. Single Mama said...

Marriage definitely made me feel different - made me freak out, the first sign that I shouldn't have been married to him at all.

I think it's all about the vows - taking them before others.

I'm with you though - not religious at all myself and until recently swore up and down I'd never, ever get married again.

Awesome blog. Can't believe I haven't been here before.

jen_k_ said...

*Raising my martini glass to you* Here, here!

I can't imagine myself married again. In a long term, completely committed relationship? Perhaps.

The marriage I most admire is that of my dear friends and mentors who I call "My Two Moms". They've been together more than 10 years.

An official piece of paper is definitely optional.

Mrs. Limestone said...

I don't entirely disagree with you. The paper itself is just that, a piece of paper.

But I think the promises of lifelong committment in front of friends and family does mean something more than the certificate. It doesn't matter what you call it - marriage, union, whatever.

While Im sure there are many couples that never make those promises outloud but mean them nonetheless (and married couples who say them and dont mean them) - I think there is something sacred about the words and intent behind a marriage ceremony in the right context. There is a difference between the relationship of two people who have promised a lifelong committment to each other and those that haven't been able to make such a vow. At least thats my opinion.

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