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Not Getting Married

Not Getting Married

Of the many marriage options on the banquet table these days, one is spoken of less often than others that is, not to marry at all. The decision to marry is deeply personal. Weddings, joyous and lovely as they can be, can sometimes distract from the complex process of making the choice to stand at the altar with another. The following is a meditation on what it means to opt out of "I do."

One Relationship of Many

Most people have heard couples say they are happy they married their best friend. The implication is that the union is based on factors other than romance. The statement suggests that they will support one another the way that good friends do. While it may be great to have the whole package in one partner, a single person can have multiple relationships that cover all the emotional bases. Interactions with brothers and sisters, old friends, new friends, lovers and even casual acquaintances can all together provide as rich or richer a human experience as a spousal relationship. To defer or deny marriage does not have to mean that one travels alone in this world.

Legitimacy as a Cultural Construct

As current events have shown, the struggle for the right to be married in the eyes of the law is profoundly important to many people. Practically speaking, marriage is a contract that comes with certain legal rights and economic parameters. On a cultural level, marriage allows entry into a special kind of social legitimacy. People who choose to remain unattached do so under a tacit taboo. "Confirmed bachelor," or, "Always a bridesmaid, never the bride," are seemingly benign comments made by people who find the unmarried state unacceptable or odd. Dating websites routinely announce their success in terms of the percentage of participants who wind up married. A happy and rewarding singlehood is seen more often in society as a consolation prize, not a conscious choice.

But Weddings Are Fun

There is no question that the decision to marry is rewarded, often lavishly, in this culture. As soon as a couple announces their engagement, the presents and good wishes start rolling in. There is a sacred ceremony and a catered event. Herein may lie the answer to paving the way for not marrying as a respected life choice: Have a celebration. Single people experience milestones just like everybody else. Getting a PhD? Adopting a child? Throw a party! Nothing makes it more real than an e-vite followed by passed hors d'oeuvres and an open bar. Other rituals to appropriate:

  • A ring or another piece of significant jewelry. Wear something precious that demonstrates a commitment to a meaningful and purposeful life.
  • Anniversary celebrations. Any relationship that continues to survive daily wear and tear, as well as the big stuff, deserves to be acknowledged with an excellent dinner, at least.
  • Firsts, seconds it does not matter, it is just a fancy name for a well-deserved Hawaiian vacation.

Freedom to Choose

Many people might argue that to love someone and not want to marry shows a fear of commitment. There is plenty of logic to back that up. Divorce can be a painful and involved process, and can carry significant emotional and financial repercussions. While it may be equally emotionally traumatic, one can simply walk away from a relationship that is not bound by law. Conversely, while there is no legal impetus to do so, choosing to work through the tough times in an unmarried relationship demonstrates deep emotional commitment. Love and devotion are not the proprietary byproducts of marriage. Today, should a couple decide that marriage is a good idea after all, they are free to sign the papers. They are likewise at liberty to hold off or carry on without the paperwork.

Category: Get Ordained

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