I don’t know where to begin on this one, but here I go!
So, I have performed over 100 wedding ceremonies at this point in my career with Liberty Weddings and I feel like I have only touched on the multitudes of traditions, beliefs and variety in ceremonies. Most of the time that is spent dilly dallying waiting for the bride to finish her make up or after the ceremony is over and I am awkwardly standing around, I get to thinking about what marriage means to me.
First off, I am one of the most open minded people that I know. Ask me my opinion on anything, I’m usually just like, “I don’t really care, whatever floats your boat! As long as it doesn’t affect me!” So concerning marriage, really, I don’t care what you do to create your “union of love.” I don’t care how you consummate it. It can between you two, you can have witnesses, you can have a grandiose party, whatever! Live your life on your own terms.
However, a lot of people do not agree with me, as seen by a recent Facebook post in which I announced that i was married. “Is it official? Is it real?” many asked. Wait — so what makes it “official?” I got two responses that I would want to argue against. One, the government license. And two, the need for religion. The first as only created for inheritance and racist purposes in the past (in the United States). Irrelevant to me and to society at this point. Now government licenses serve as a way to deal with taxes, insurance and health care, which is coercion at its finest. Want to stay single all your life? Pay more taxes and more for basic life needs! One day I would consider getting the government license, but right now it is unimportant to me and I’m still a student. I’m on my parent’s health plan. Next, religion. Atheism holds the 3rd highest percentage of people in this world regarding religious affiliation. Are you saying that they can only get married if they pretend to be religious? That is ridiculous for obvious reasons. My answer to people who are not religious who want to get married is to create a ceremony leaving out the whole “God thing.” It is a bond between two people, not you, your partner and God (unless you really want him to be there, you polygamist, you).
So, what is my plan for marriage? Personally, I want a lot of things. I would want a private exchange of vows and some kind of ritual (rings, handfasting). Also, I would want the big wedding ceremony with reception that everyone is used to. The reason for the big ceremony would be to affirm before our family and friends that we are pledging our love to each other. Last on my list would come the marriage license, which I will hold off on unless it becomes necessary. I want my marriage to represent that I love my partner and that no matter what crazy things may happen, no matter who might come between us (we’re all human or polyamorous here!), that love will still be there. For me, love doesn’t die — I still feel love for those who I have been with in the past, although we aren’t together and practicing our feelings for each other, but the person I marry would be my active partner. I’m not sure if love is as lasting to other people as it is with me, but that is why my marriage will emphasize that the love will never die no matter what we do with our individual lives.
Goofing around on Facebook and declaring myself married was a little silly because then it seems like I do not take it seriously. And if I do not plan on taking into account the government or religion to legitimize my union, I have to make sure there is a difference in definition between it and “just dating.” I highlighted some points above regarding my plan, which is how and when I plan on labeling myself as a wife — the personal recognition to love for another and some kind of shared commitment to our union along with some kind of involvement of the public engaged in our relationship.
Lastly, I’ll finish off my points on disregarding the need for a government license (besides legitimizing the state’s control on love, which sickens me). First, you are not legally bound to a partner, so there is no need to go through a messy divorce. Instead, you can just break up. Some say the license adds protection, but just be smart with your finances, home, children and anything else you share and you should be fine. Secondly, since it is a physical contract, it can be emotionally heavy on a couple — “Look, hon! This piece of paper means we’re married and took a sacred oath that must be upheld — OR ELSE!” Love is already heavy enough. Lastly, same with the God argument, what purpose does the government have in watching over your marriage? It is between two people!
No matter what path you take with your marriage, I only ask that I hope that you think about it and recognize that signing a piece of paper or being committed together by a priest doesn’t make it or break it — it is your vows, your actions, your love! The divorce rate is beyond comprehension right now for a reason . . . think about it!