The other day I was watching a film. The male hero looks into the heroine’s eyes and says “Jane, I can’t live without you. Will you marry me?”.
Fast forward to the marriage ceremony. The bride and groom exchange rings. They say to each other that they commit to staying with each other for the rest of their lives, through sickness and in health, till death do them part.
A beautiful thing, right?
I felt uncomfortable.
Not because I’m a commitment-phobe. If anything I’m the polar opposite of that. And it’s also not because I don’t like weddings. I absolutely love them. Instead, I feel uncomfortable when I see scenes like this because I see subtitles underneath such statements.
“I want you forever” I don’t want you to leave me.
“I can’t live without you” I am reliant on you for my security.
“I’d be lost without you” I am attached to you for my happiness.
I wonder how many people get married because deep down one person is scared about losing the other. So they put a ring on it to make things more ‘permanent’. To have the mental comfort of knowing that the very person that you are attached to will always be there. People may do this on a subconscious level. To plunge into a marriage for reasons of fear and attachment is suffering just waiting to happen.
In addition, when couples publicly declare their commitment to each other at weddings, I often think – but what if separating is actually the best thing for the couple?
I believe that “loving” someone does not mean ignoring the changes that naturally occur between people and staying in a loveless marriage. It’s sensing what is best for both you and your partner and acting accordingly. This might mean working things out together, but it could mean parting ways. Realistically you just never know. So in a way, are you not imprisoning the very person that you love in having them make this commitment?
One person that I know who has chosen not to get married to her long-term partner once said to me, “People ask me why we don’t get married, but I feel like there is something beautiful about the fact that I choose to be with my partner every single day”. I thought that was wonderful. I too feel like one way I can show my love to my partner is to let him know that he has a choice of being with me. After all, you must allow others the freedom to be their own circle (see previous blog entry).
This then makes me wonder what the motivations should be behind marriage. I’m not talking about legal reasons – because I’m sure I could name a few of those. I ponder on the non-legal reasons because I know I do want to get married someday. Granted, I will freely admit that part of the reason is to wear a lovely wedding dress (what girl can resist having all eyes on her) and to have a day that celebrates love.
I’m still trying to work out good reasons to get married that aren’t based on fear and attachment. I know the feeling of wanting to share the rest of your life with someone. I know the feeling of being permanently connected at the heart with someone. And of course, I know the feeling of loving someone. I guess marriage could be an overt declaration of these emotions.
Yet, I cannot help but feel that marriage symbolises a permanent union. This idea belies how I feel about wanting to ensure that both my partner and myself feel free. Of course, there is a choice of leaving one’s partner even when married. It’s called divorce. But the gravitas is different.
I think the only answers I can come up with at the moment are these two: 1) If you feel a timeless connection (aka union) with someone on a spiritual level, you want to symbolise this on a physical level. This perhaps is marriage. 2) I like the idea of taking on my husband’s last name as a symbol of becoming one family when we have children. We are one unit and a tribe.
So yes, I’m afraid no conclusion to this post because I’m still mulling on this one, and any thoughts will be much appreciated 🙂 Stay tuned for another post someday…!