My dress came in last week! I went to the store and tried it on, and now it’s sitting in the closet in our guest bedroom. And all of the sudden, it is all so much more real. I’m getting married. By this time, next year, I will be a married woman.
As you might expect, this brought up some questions and introspection for me. Specifically, why get married? I’ve talked on the blog before about the reasons for having a wedding. But have a wedding and getting married are not the same thing. So, beyond the party, beyond the family and friends witnessing the commitment and celebrating together, why do it at all?
I think people around the globe are starting the ask themselves the same question, as marriage as a standard expectation evolves. Marriage rates are down in huge swaths of the US population, as well as across the UK and Europe. People are entering into serious, long term commitments, living together and having children, without ever getting married. Some are uncomfortable with the privilege of marriage that is not afforded to same-sex couples. Some point to high divorce rates as a sign that marriage is not necessary. Some believe that getting married will actually harm their relationship—why fix what isn’t broken? And some just don’t see the purpose. As the western world becomes more secular, the requirements of being married to, well, be together (wink, wink) have receded. It is possible now to move forward with life and your relationship without getting married at all.
So, what’s the point? And why has getting married been important to me personally?
Steve and I have been together for three and a half years. We’ve lived together for two of those years, in the suburbs, in a house with a pool that Steve owns, with our dog and two cats and Emily, when she is with us. We are settled. We are committed. We have a full, strong domestic life.
It’s not that something is missing. It’s not that our relationship is not official, or not sanctioned. It’s more that getting married will add something that isn’t there yet. Making that commitment, making promises to each other in front of witnesses, making that legal commitment to our baby family will change something. I think it will make us something that we weren’t before.
Look, I can’t comment on anyone else’s relationship. Others may have the same gravitas with or without the marriage vows. But I’ve always valued formal, concrete delineations of relationships and expectations. I like things to be clearly stated. And it doesn’t get more clear than standing next to your partner, promising to be a team, a unit, and a family. Taking a part of each of yourselves and putting them together into something new, making a marriage.