Monday, May 25, 2009

Marriage, weddings and love

I'm not much of a believer in marriage. I mean, I believe that it exists and I believe that what it represents is generally a good thing, but I don't believe that it is the holiest of holies, the tiny, beautiful sacred room at the end of the hall. I think that the idea of marriage is fine but the definition is far too restrictive.

The idea of marriage is that two people have formed an alliance in the war against loneliness and sadness and grief. That's pretty much it, as far as I am concerned. The rest of it - the genders of the spouses, the scope of the sexual activity, the goals of the marriage, even the legal benefits such as tax breaks and insurance eligibility - is just distraction.

Today is my third wedding anniversary. And no offense to those who joined and honored us three years ago for our wedding ceremony, but I have a hard time feeling much of a sense of significance at the date. It is certainly nice to be married, but the life of the legally wed is scarcely different from our life before. In fact, it adds a slight layer of confusion to the discussion: "So how long have you been married?" people ask me. "Three years," I will answer, which is the truth. But it isn't the whole truth. The whole truth is that Bronwen and I have been together since late 2001. My very last first date was on December 2, 2001. We saw a movie (Amelie) and had dinner (P.F. Chang's) and that is a day worth celebrating. Over the next several years we learned more and more about each other and settled gradually into the lives of the married. By 2006, when we finally had our wedding, we had already moved in together, shared a bank account, and were living in our second apartment. The details aren't particularly important, but the point is that there was not much that a piece of paper could add to our relationship.

I'm glad we were married. Really I am. The wedding was a blast, and it was great to see our families. It's also nice to get our official anniversary date out of the treacherous holiday season - a first date is not exactly the sort of thing you can plan for. Also, it's really nice to refer to Bronwen as my wife rather than as my girlfriend. Beyond that, the wedding, the legal marriage hasn't improved, worsened or changed our lives in any perceptible way.

Do I recommend marriage? Yes. But the only elements that matter are the two spouses. Whether or not the state recognizes it is unimportant. Whether or not the church recognizes it is obviously unimportant. It doesn't even matter if your family approves. All of those other restrictions and limitations that people put on the definition of marriage are worthless at best and harmful at the worst.

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