Food For Thought:
Is marriage out of date in today's society?
On this day three months ago Patrick popped the big question on the cliffs of the Sydney coastal walk overlooking the ocean, and suddenly I transitioned from being a girlfriend to being a fiancée.
It was the most unexpected but also most beautiful question I’ve ever heard. And it was the most life changing yes I’ve ever said. Three months have passed by and it’s been a wonderful time, full of celebrating with family and friends and lots of time to let it all sink in. We were (and still are) quite overwhelmed by all the love and joy we received from everyone around us when we announced our engagement, and to be very honest – it’s true what they say: Being engaged is a wonderful chapter in life.
I’ve known for all my life that I want to get married one day – not necessarily because of the religious aspect of marriage – but simply because I think it’s one of the most noble gestures of love. The years passed by and although Disney gave me unrealistic expectations about love, I still believe in love and marriage. During a weekend at home, my mom just recently asked me why I want to get married. (Side note: My parents have been married for almost 30 years now.) I’m usually quite quick with answers, but this question got me thinking. I guess it’s one of the questions I’ve never really given a thought, until I was confronted with it. So let me elaborate:
I want to get married because I want to commit myself to a person and to a shared future. That’s not because I am of the opinion that I would have to do this because society makes me do it, or simply because everyone else around me “does it”, but just because I really want it. Nevertheless, I still like to think of myself as a self-determined, experimental, free and self-willed woman. One of the kind society would refer to as modern women. Even though I still have to get used to the term “woman”, since I still refer to myself as a girl – and probably always will.
Courage, dear heart.
I am an only child, and my biggest fear has always been to be alone in this world one day. The older I get, the bigger this fear grows. Although I know it is silly because I have a loving family and caring friends, who can be accounted as family too, this feeling is still there. So one of the motives of marrying might be security and stability, you’d think. Maybe you’re right. But let me raise a thought: In a world with a hundred + one possibilities, where you can live wherever you want and date whoever you like, don’t you think it’s truly brave to commit yourself to one person and a life together?
We’re living in a world in which nothing is more uncertain than a steady relationship, and nothing is more dangerous than relying your own happiness on someone else. Some might say it’s crazy, it probably is. But I think having this special bond of trust and togetherness with someone is priceless.
I’m part of the generation “want it all”, because basically our generation can have it all. We want flexibility in all areas of life: Work, place of residence, gym memberships, friendships. And of course: Relationships. I mean, why should we sacrifice our flexibility, right? I for my part know why: Because it simply does not make me happy. Affairs are uncomplicated and can give us the affection, reassurance and confidence we need in the short term. In the long term however, it just won’t do the trick. At least that’s how I feel about it.
Although I’ve made my experiences and wouldn’t want to miss the beautiful moments those uncomplicated encounters were responsible for, I still figured I’m not the kind of girl who wants to live wild and free forever. Of course everyone can choose not to be in a relationship – I have absolute understanding for that. Maybe those people just haven’t met the one yet. Or maybe they choose to master life alone forever. The only statement that I strongly disagree with is the assumption that our generation is unable to have long-term relationships. I think it’s a lame excuse of our generation to maintain all the flexibilities life has to offer, which spares us from the decision to settle for something.
As far as I am concerned, I suppose our generation is not unable to have long-term relationships, we’re just unwilling to have long-term relationships.
Marriage does’t mean standing still.
I think key to being able to engage into a long-term relationship, or more precisiely into a forever-term relationship, is to understand that marriage is not the end, but simply the beginning of a new chapter.
Life is not static, everything is in motion and constantly changing. Just because you’re married it doesn’t mean life is not mutable anymore. The only thing that changes is that you’re not making your decisions alone anymore, but you’re taking your partner’s opinion and wishes into consideration. This of course is a big responsibility, but it can also be a big help when times gets tough.
I think whoever has come as far as to marry someone, shows lots of courage. Don’t get me wrong: Settling for a person, making up your mind about your future together, your mutual life goals and dreams, is a big step in life. Probably one of the biggest someone has taken at that point. So I think anyone who brings up the courage to take this step, will also always find compromises with their partner, which will (hopefully) always result in making both sides happy.
Nothing in life comes with a guarantee.
Of course, marriage doesn’t come with a guarantee. Whether the guarantee that everything will always be rainbows and butterflies, nor the guarantee that it will last forever. But then again, nothing in life comes with a guarantee. Or, as my dad would say: “If you want a guarantee, buy a toaster.”
So, of course there’s fear. The fear of binding yourself to someone, the fear of becoming dependent, the fear of taking responsibility for someone else than yourself, the fear of failure. What if my partner looses interest in me? What if it turns out we’re not made for each other? What if I find out that the concept of marriage is not made for me after all? And what happens if I can’t make my partner happy and disappoint him? It’s no wonder this fear results in uncertainty which makes us become selfish.
When it comes to living a happy and fulfilled life, we do not want to rely on anyone. But – here’s good news: I came to the conclusion that I don’t have to rely my own happiness on anyone else but me. Because only if I’m happy myself, I will have the ability to make my partner happy, which will result in a happy marriage, and hopefully in a happily ever after.
Do or don’t. There is no try.
Here’s the point: Nothing requires more courage and devotion than genuine commitment. No matter if you’re married or not, your actions will always have an influence on the feelings, happiness and reactions of your partner.
I dare to say: With all the flexibility we demand for ourselves in life, love is our anchor and sanctuary. We’re all social beings, and whether you take a look at humans or animals – we’re not made to be alone.
Too much egoism and selfishness will not give us a fulfilled and happy life in the long run. Of course I’m not saying you should marry the next best person. But if you’ve thought about it thoroughly and you can actually see yourself with your partner in the future, you’re ready to bring your relationship to the next level, and you’re having big plans for the years to come… Why not seal the deal and finally commit yourself to someone?
To me it’s crystal clear: I’m a strong believer of love and in world full of options, the commitment of two people saying “I do” to each other, is one of the most beautiful gestures ever. Only those who risk everything can also win everything.
So here’s to you Patrick: There’s no one else I’d rather go on this crazy rollercoaster called life with, than you. I know forever is a big word, but let’s just start here and now.