Glittering diamond rings, gorgeous white dresses and opulent three-tiered wedding cakes, this age-old ritual has been the bedrock of civilization since as long as we can remember. A symbol of commitment, love and partnership, this sacred union between husband and wife, that is marriage is now being put to the test.
Don’t get me wrong, people still yearn for a devoted partner in life. We want the security of a first respondent in emergencies, ready counsel in distress, company in defeat and for every personal victory, someone to celebrate with. What we do alone has less verve than what we share. But in the contemporary era we live in today, this companionship can be made possible without marriage. In fact, cohabitation has become a very attractive alternative.
With people’s faith in government and legal authority crumbling, the institution of marriage has been questioned ruthlessly. And with divorce figures on the rise, it seems like there is hardly any point to this resplendent gesture of commitment. So, to determine why or why not tie the knot at all, we first need to understand the purpose of this constitutional union. Why is marriage one of the most basic social constructs of our society today? Is it procreation? Companionship? A form of stability? It definitely is all those reasons, yet, in the absence of this legal bond, couples are not cut off from these same pleasures. Cohabiters can still have kids, be loyal to each other, and maintain stability. Why go out of the way to sign this legal contract that seemingly creates more problems than it prevents?
Many say that marriage is just a piece of paper, anyway. It means little in the big picture of the relationship. As long as two people love each other, it’s matters of the heart that matter. If a sincere commitment to be loyal to each other is made between two parties, it is sufficient in sustaining the relationship.
This is true in many cases, but others argue that feelings fade. They are inadequate in fuelling a relationship. We as humans need an authoritative hand to guide our actions, and the permanence of a binding contract is healthy motivation to be true to each other. A rather dispassionate outlook, but nonetheless has its merits. People do waver, and sometimes having no way out could be the driving force for a married couple to address personal issues and solve those complex problems rather than taking the easier route and just opting out.
The commitment of marriage truly is a double-edged sword. If you don’t commit, it’s easier to leave. And when you can leave your man at any time, the power dynamics are different. He can’t take you for granted as much as if you were his wife. You’re don’t belong to him for life. There is a whole lot of room for freedom and individuality here.
On the other hand, in marriage, you are faced with a feeling of finality. There is no turning back. And it is arduous to leave. But these boundaries may bear good fruit, forcing both parties to adapt to and accept each other’s flaws and weaknesses which might translate into a longer lasting and more meaningful relationship. For what counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility.
Of course, cohabitation is not in synchrony with societal norms, and that may put pressure on the couple to legally seal the deal. But know that although your friends and family truly care about you, if you don’t want to put yourself in a position where you’re bound to one human being for life, it’s your choice to make. Similarly, if you want the permanence of a marriage commitment and you’re sure you’ve found the right partner you want to spend your life with, go all out for it. Love is a dive into the deep end. One of life’s risks worth taking.
Love can be expressed in a thousand and one ways and it’s not up to us to impose our views on love on another person. It should be expressed in the form that you are most comfortable with and it must be compatible with your willingness to make sacrifices. We fall in love by chance but we stay in love by choice. And whichever way helps you make that choice daily, take it, and run with it!
Let me know your thoughts on the topic in the comments below! 🙂