will you marry me?

Recently, while watching a news report on domestic partnerships, I made the mistake of commenting to my parents about how I might consider a domestic partnership, but that I didn’t want to get married. This led to my mom immediately clicking off the television and commencing a sit-down discussion about my thoughts on marriage. Now, my parents, you must understand, are devout Christians and always have been. I was raised as a non-denominational Christian, but began to “falter in my faith” near the end of high school (I like to say I began “thinking for myself,” but that’s just terminology). I told my parents that I was no longer a Christian during my freshman year of college after taking a fantastic religion course called Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The class was remarkably unbiased — despite the fact that it was taught by a Christian minister — and it allowed me the chance to look at the information and consider it for myself without someone trying to use it as a means to an end. Anyway, I decided that organized religion wasn’t my cup of tea.

So, this year I got to thinking about marriage. Not because I am in a serious relationship, no, I’m very happily single; but because three of my best friends suddenly started telling me how they were thinking they might marry their current boyfriends. Weird to hear, but it got me thinking.

Merriam-Webster defines marriage as “the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law.” As of now, I cannot see myself getting married. It just doesn’t jive with my scene, yo. I don’t feel the need to have my personal relationships validated by the government. Actually, my motto generally is the less government involvement in my life the better. I do not want children, but if (god forbid!) an accident happened, I would then consider getting married for the child’s sake, but that’s a different conversation. Also, I personally believe that it is immoral to deny homosexual couples the right to marry. I would rather not take part in something that is used to discriminate against my friends and fellow Americans.

I had a talk with my friend, Anita, about this, and she asked me, “Wouldn’t you be worried though? Wouldn’t you feel insecure knowing that he could just up and leave at anytime?” My reply was that it would actually make me feel more secure. I would know that Prince Charming was with me because he really wanted to be, and not just because a piece of paper was legally tying him to me and it would be a huge hassle for him to get out of it. If the man I was with wanted to leave, then he should. Why would I want to force someone to stay with me who didn’t want to?

My father pointed out that it was one of the biggest foundations of our society. How could I just throw that away? Well, easily. I’m not one to partake in tradition for tradition’s sake. I want to do what makes sense to me; what works for me.

My mom said that it was not about the government or the legal contract but that God marries people, and it’s a divine institution that needs to be upheld. My simple answer to this was: I don’t believe that, so it doesn’t apply to me.

Now, I want to make very clear that I am not condemning marriage. I think that marriage is a good idea for some people. For people who are religious, want children and want to make inheritance rights clear, want to uphold tradition, or feel more secure entering into a legally binding (sort of) contract, marriage makes sense. But for crazy rebels like me, well, not so much.

Also, the strength of the “binding” part of “legally binding” is kind of a joke with something like 50% of marriages ending in divorce. That doesn’t scream “divine union” or “till death do us part” to me. It seems like many people just get married because that’s just what you’re supposed to do when you’re seriously in love with someone. Again, not what I’m looking for. Maybe I’m just a silly college student whose liberal ideas shouldn’t even be given the time of day (as my father said), but if I ever hear those famous words, “Will you marry me?” my answer will have to be “No, and here’s the link to my blog, which explains why.”

I would be very interested to know your opinions on this topic, and I’m always open to hearing other points of view!

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2 Comments

Filed under Musings

2 responses to “will you marry me?

  1. Ashley

    I feel very similarly about the marriage issue; in fact, I wrote a blog about it myself some time ago. The part about your friend asking you if you would be worried if your partner would just up and leave is very telling; it reflects this mentality among people that marriage will magically make any relationship a “sealed deal”. Were I somehow part of this conversation with your friend I would have asked how being married is any more security that your spouse won’t leave; at best, they will just up and leave, at worst, they’ll cheat on you because they feel bound to you by some social and governmental contract. And so, because marriage has this big stamp on it that apparently says “RELATIONSHIP FOREVER” we have these stereotypical reactions and behaviors i.e. women fretting over being proposed to by some asshole they aren’t compatible with or men “being afraid of commitment” (and both are just stupid behaviors anyway, coming from any gender).

    I feel that marriage is right for some and like you, I don’t have any desire to get married because it means nothing to me and doesn’t make sense. And I have to challenge you a bit on your thought about perhaps considering getting married for the sake of a child; I’ve always felt that many, many couples do this and it rarely ends well. Entering a marriage solely because a woman is pregnant I feel is a hasty, almost antiquated idea that brings up visions of shot-gun weddings. There are lots and lots of couples out there who live together unmarried, or hell even in separate houses or cities and their kids grow up fine. So…that’s my long-winded counter to your consideration, haha.

    The emphasis on marriage in this society wouldn’t bother me so much if there weren’t some stigma against just being a couple living together. Questions like, “So when are you and so and so going to get serious and tie the knot?” aggravate the hell out of me. And the number of women out there who sadly exhibit that stereotypical behavior (in obsessive, frightening ways) makes me sad. I want to see more goal-oriented women who’s life pursuits don’t end at snagging a man. If you wanna get married, go for it. But don’t let that be the be-all end-all of your life.

    Thanks for the great post, I really enjoyed reading and replying (in a very long-winded way) to it!

    • Thanks for the reply! I really enjoyed reading your views and liked how you explained them.

      On the issue of getting married for the sake of a child. When I wrote that, I meant it more in the sense of you were in a long-term relationship and were planning to have a child and wanted to “make things official” so that both parents and child were on slightly safer ground. My partner leaving me is one story, my partner leaving me to be a single mother with no parenting or monetary support is quite another. That situation is unhealthy and unfair for both the parent and the child. I agree with you that children can grow up fine in unmarried households and also that the idea of shotgun weddings is antiquated and not in the best interest of anyone involved. However, I do think that if you are planning to have a child or even if you have been together for a long time decide you want to raise your little accident together, marriage might be a good idea, after being carefully considered, of course. I think that people should take their time in examining the pros and cons of such a decision. Plus, how do you decide whose last name it gets? 😛

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