What Marriage means to me

A woman whose on-line work I follow has started an on-line opinion page, wherin she poses a topic, and invites readers to respond to the topic. When she queried her audience about marriage, I felt compelled to post my feelings. After all, I've been married for over twelve years, and I feel that I've got a thing or two to say on the topic...

First, the original query:

This is one of those topics I've been thinking a lot about lately. My best friend got married recently and my boyfriend and I have been together for four years (we've lived together for the last three), so of course we've discussed it.

But there's a part of me that keeps asking, "Why?" I mean, we're not going to have children. That's already been determined. So outside of that issue, why should we get married if things have gone so well for us for so long already?

I just keep thinking there's something rather special about us staying together because we want to, not because some piece of paper tells us we have to. I suppose I'm just a big cynic.

Aside from children and religious issues, what are some other good reasons for a couple who's been together for years to get married?

To which I responded:

Marriage. It's a contract between two people to share and mingle their resources for the benefit of future generations that the union might produce. I've been married for over 12 years now, and before we got married, we lived together for two more. It was the year in between these periods that was really hard to deal with. I'd expressed no interest in getting married. In fact, I'd as much as declared that it was not for me. What changed my mind? I moved away, and got lonely. Really, really lonely. I'd decided that the person that I'd been with was somebody that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I'd decided that the person that I was would be so much better if augmented by the presence of this other person that I knew. It was (and is) worth the sacrifices that must be made. If I were to lose my job tomorrow, I'd have to worry about where we would go. My worldly possessions no longer fit snugly in the back of a pick-up truck. I've got dogs for crying out loud! But I wouldn't trade what I live now for the free and easy life of shiftless wandering that was my life before I got married. Sure, it might have turned out different, with somebody else, some place else, but I'm pretty happy with the way that things have turned out.

No kids. Well, two dogs and a cat. We could split up tomorrow if it was the pets keeping us together. But like I said, marriage is a contract. I gave my word that I would stick with this woman. I actually "plied my troth". This makes it a little bit harder to just chuck it all in the dumpster of life and head on out for the road. When you're living together, there are no guarantees. (There are none if you're married either, but go with this for a bit...) Nothing except for dividing up the CD collection. But when you're married, you have to give back the rolling pins (we got three of them!) if you split up. There's just a bit more "glue" holding you together. There's an agreement that all things to be worked out will be worked out together, with the two of you ostensibly stronger than either of the two of you alone.

I kind of liked what I read in a book I'm reading now, that describes the Klingon marriage contract in the various Star Trek worlds. (Caution: Geek coming out of the closet!):

Klingons choose their mates for life. Great respect is accorded to the marriage bond. It is the view of Klingon culture that marriage makes the Klingon couple more influential than they were as individuals. The Klingon wedding ceremony celebrates an ancient myth that the power of the Klingon heart, when doubled through mating, beats loudly enough to frighten the gods.

I kind of like this. Nothing about children, or rolling pins. No coercion. Just the doubling of the power of the individual against the world because of the proper relationship.

It could no more occur to me to just junk the relationship because I really wanted to move to San Francisco than it would be for her to deny me the possibility of doing something that I really wanted to do. Of course there is inevitable conflict when the desires of the couple are mutually exclusive, or can't be reconciled. But that's part of the joy of it all: there's somebody who has my best interests at heart, just like I have for her. It's all kind of scary, becoming part of a pod person, the same person, but different than I was before. On the other hand, the person that I am today is ever so much better than the person that I was (christ!) seventeen years ago when I impulsively kissed the girl living in the dorm room across the hall. And I won't pretend that there has never been a struggle, but I wouldn't trade it for all the RAM chips in the world...

This page is authored and maintained by Rich Webb. You can send E-mail to me by following this link to the contact page. And feel free to contact me if you have any comments, criticisms, or suggestions. I remain, however, perfectly capable of ignoring your useless opinion...

This document was last modified on Aug 18, 1998, and has been viewed countless times.