To a lot of people, it probably seems very strange that my fiance and I have decided to marry each other. We had our first date in the middle of August 2013 and will be heading down the aisle in December 2014. We’re both young (I’m 24, he’s 23). We don’t even live together, and each of us has only been in one brief prior relationship with someone else. Crazy, right? Like we barely know each other! We’re so young and haven’t even played the field!
And yet here we are, making a lifelong commitment to each other and actually, genuinely intending to honour that commitment by staying together for the long haul. Even if we “fall out of love” with each other. Even if things “aren’t working out”.
In a world where there are so many different views on relationships and marriage, I just thought I’d offer up my own thoughts on why I’m getting married.
The most important thing to note is that our marriage is about commitment more than it is about being madly in love. Yes, I do happen to feel madly in love with my fiance at the moment. But we’re not getting married because of that feeling. We’re getting married because we want to be each others’ life partners, even if that initial spark and passion fades away. Love is something that naturally changes and shifts and evolves over time, and by making a lifelong commitment to each other, we know that we will stay at each others’ sides whatever happens.
I feel that this idea, of valuing commitment to each other over feelings for each other, has been lost somewhat in modern day secular culture. There’s this idea that if you’re not happy and satisfied in your relationship, then perhaps it’s time to end that relationship and seek a new, more fulfilling relationship with someone else. We must constantly chase happiness in all areas of our lives, and if we’re not happy, that has to change. Even modern evolutionary biological thought suggests that humans aren’t designed to have a single partner for life, and it’s more natural to have a series of different partners over the course of your lifespan instead.
But I don’t think marriage is simply about the happiness of the two people involved – it’s about what they can achieve together, as a unit, looking in the same direction as each other. Having that extra level of utter commitment and respect for each other goes far beyond a couple’s capacity to stare adoringly into each others’ eyes for an extended period of time. It provides a stable base for raising a family should a couple choose to have kids, and means that neither party needs to worry about the prospect of their partner suddenly leaving them if difficulties arise.
Instead of being a restrictive lifestyle – being shackled to just a single other person for life, even if you fall out of love with them – I think marriage is actually somewhat freeing. It gives couples a special kind of “freedom to fail”: for someone to have moments of fault and imperfection, but to know that their partner won’t leave them because of it.
Of course I absolutely do not think a couple should stay together in any situation where abuse of any kind is involved. If those issues aren’t addressed, that is definitely grounds for separation or divorce.
I do not currently live with my fiance. We’re moving in together only after we’re married. If I’m being completely honest and transparent here, I think this decision was more one of convenience and sticking to the social expectations of our families and our church. I definitely don’t think that living together is a necessary prerequisite to marriage. I know my fiance pretty damn well even though we’re not waking up next to each other every single morning (yet). I’m aware of his habits and his tendencies and I know they gel quite well with my own. I learned this through dating him and spending a LOT of time together.
And if one of us has a super annoying habit that the other just can’t deal with? We’ll find a way to compromise. Sometimes I wonder if those who believe you should always “try before you buy” have issues with communicating openly with their partners.
Along those same lines, I think the whole concept of “but you must be sexually compatible!” is a myth. Again, that’s something that you can learn and work on together with your partner. To ditch an otherwise ideal partner simply because they’re “not that great in bed” is profoundly sad. There is more to a relationship than physical intimacy (though it is important).
It’s true (and probably pretty obvious by this point) that my views on relationships and marriage are heavily influenced by my Christian faith – but they are not dictated by it. I’ve seen firsthand the sadness and the brokenness that a string of failed relationships can cause. I’ve experimented with “dating for fun” and realised that it inevitably leads to people getting hurt.
I think if you want to spend your life with someone, marriage is the best way to seal that commitment, provided you both approach marriage with the same outlook and your relationship is set on a foundation of the utmost respect for each other. And because I think marriage is pretty great, I genuinely believe that same-sex couples should have that option too.
Don’t agree with me? That’s okay. I’m not aiming to convert or persuade anyone to share my point of view. However I do take issue with people who insist that I’m naive or brainwashed by my church or making a huge mistake because we haven’t lived together and I haven’t had a string of relationships to “know what I want”. What I want is to spend the rest of my life with my fiance, regardless of what might happen. And I’m absolutely certain that I’m ready to make that commitment.