What Is a Marriage?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Photo Credit: http://psiheya.deviantart.com/art/wedding-299786421

What Is a Marriage?
The definition.

What is a marriage?

Eternal commitment? A compromise through sickness and health for better and for worse? The joining of two individuals building a life together as one? 

Marriage is a big deal. Whom we marry is one of the biggest decisions we can make in life, and the decision of whether or not to get married at all is a huge decision on it’s own. Our society places great emphasis on marriage, romanticizing and exaggerating it’s definition. We hear more about marriage and divorce than any other topic in our daily lives.

And yet, very few of us actually know what a marriage actually is.

We believe it’s something romantic and spectacular. It’s finding that perfect person and choosing to spend the rest of our lives with them. It’s having children, raising them, and growing old together. It’s having someone to come home to and go to bed with every night. It’s a proposal and a ceremony and a honeymoon. It’s buying a first house, first car, and a second life.

But that’s not a marriage at all.

One of the greatest relationships I’ve witnessed in my life has been between two men. They have that something romantic and spectacular. They are each other’s perfect person, the one they dream of spending the rest of their lives with. They want to raise children together, buy a house together, and grow old together. And there’s no reason why they shouldn’t. Seeing them together is seeing the definition of love.

But as of right now, they aren’t legally able to get married. So how can that be the definition of marriage?

Love is not marriage. Love is love.

In fact, marrying for love is a relatively new concept. Arranged marriages were the common custom until about a few centuries ago when industrialization allowed people more freedom to explore their personal happiness. Before, personal happiness was sacrificed in light of proper property division, social status, and “legitimate” reproduction. As society shifted, so did the perception of marriage.

(For more on the history of marriage click here.)

Marriage in history was not a romantic or spectacular something at all. It was a negotiation, a formal political and/or religious arrangement meant to satisfy some larger goal of the collective society. And if you ask yourself enough “What is a marriage” you’ll realize the definition of a marriage hasn’t changed. Only our perception of it has.

Can you have commitment without a marriage? Of course.

Can you have love without a marriage? Obviously.

Can you build a life, raise children, and travel without a marriage? Duh.

So then, what is a marriage?

Since I’m not religious, my personal, informal definition of marriage would be this:

Marriage is betting someone half your shit that you’re going to love them forever.

A more formal definition would be something like: 

Marriage is the legal binding of two individuals.

A religious definition would be: 

Marriage is a promise before God that two individuals intend to join together under His name to fulfill His Purpose.

But no matter how you define it, marriage is still nothing more than a formal contract.

Does that make it any less beautiful or meaningful? Of course not.

But can you have the beauty and meaning without a marriage? Most definitely.

Let’s not confuse marriage with love. There’s a difference. You can have one without the other, and you can also have both at the same time.

But at the end of the day, love is love and marriage is business.

Both have meaning and both are beautiful in their own, separate ways.

You Might Also Like


Featured Post