What The Heck Is Marriage Anyway?

Just recently I watched a really great youtube video by Leena Norms about marriage, if you haven’t seen her series on “lies you’re told in your 20’s”, you absolutely should! This video is a must as well. Marriage is an interesting and complicated topic and one that I have mixed feelings about. Coming from my religious background marriage has meant a sacrament, a holy thing to do before god. Nowadays I feel like marriage tends to be a scam and that people should probably avoid it or at least think waaaaayyy more about it than they do. That said, I’ve now been married twice.

Yes, you read that right, twice. My first marriage was right out of high school, I was barely 19, my ex the same age and we had no fucking clue what we were doing. We knew we really deeply cared for each other and that we wanted to be together without the criticism and interference of our parents, and since we both came from heavily religious families the only way to do this seemed to be to get married. So we did. I had the whole white dress in a church, vows, rings, reception, etc. And while we loved being in a relationship together, the actual marriage part of our relationship wasn’t the biggest deal. Our marriage lasted almost 6 years. And overall it was a good relationship, although to be honest, I’m still unpacking it. We learned a lot from each other and grew as people, but we were also codependent and had some toxic cycles that we were stuck in. Also, I wanted to start a family and he wanted to continue his career. It was what it was.

I’ve now been married to my current partner for about 3 months. We’ve been together for over a year and we’re expecting our first child together. This wedding took place at my cousin’s place, over about ten minutes and then we grabbed dinner with a friend afterward. We still haven’t had a celebration for it, but we plan to once we can save a bit of money for it. Things are a bit different this time around. I still believe marriage, in general, is a scam, but my personal marriage feels a bit more important this time. Firstly because I know it’s a big deal to my partner. I was never a girl who dreamed about having a wedding and getting married, but my partner did. He’s always wanted marriage and a family and I love that about him and wanted to give that to him. Secondly, this means more to me because we chose it. My first marriage felt forced on me by parents and circumstance. This one was something I did just with my partner. We chose each other. It means more to me knowing my partner could have married so many other people in the world but somehow we found each other and I’m incredibly lucky to be with him.

I think why I really liked Leena’s video is because it’s all about really putting thought into getting married, and thinking about the social pressure to get married. And I completely agree with this. I loved that the video talked about creating wedding ceremonies and traditions that actually represent the couple getting together. This is something my partner and I really want to do, and why we didn’t really do much other than get some food after our casual wedding day. We want to be able to celebrate in our own way with people we care about, but we also know we can’t afford it right now and it’s totally fine with both of us to wait. It doesn’t make the date or status any less important to us.

It’s also interesting to think about what marriage means outside of heterosexual monogamous culture. My marriage is queer and non-monogamous, and to some, that will seem ridiculous. Why get married if we aren’t vowing to be each other’s one and only for the rest of our life?

I think it’s time to redefine marriage to be more personal. Just like wedding ceremonies should be more about the couple and not bogged down by “traditions”, so should marriage. My marriage is still important even if we date other people at the same time. We still chose each other to be life partners, we still made the choice to live together and to create an understanding of boundaries within our relationship. That doesn’t make it any less than a monogamous marriage. It’s just different. And to me, it feels so freeing.

I guess what I’m saying is I wish I had been able to understand this before I got married the first time. Marriage has become erroneously synonymous with a higher level of commitment. But commitment can look however you define it in your relationship.

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