Reflecting beyond the day I found out why.

Marriage Changes Everything

Published September 20, 2014 in Daily Reflections - 0 Comments

Put a ring on it?  That scares me.  Even more scary to me is understanding the hundreds of people who would take time out of their lives to celebrate the union of two perfectly good strangers who managed to find each other among millions of people and dedicate the rest of their lives to one another.

Yet somehow I was able to set aside those fears and attend my friend Wes’ wedding today, talking my folks into joining in the exploration of Kansas City, MO.  Clearly my parents managed to make it through this process, and my grandparents did, too.  What seems to be the issue?  Perhaps it’s that I feel like my life just got started again, and I’m in no hurry to give it away, no less to one person seeking to enjoin it exclusively to theirs.

Perhaps this scotoma is causing me to not recall witnessing a marriage in a Catholic church.  Or maybe I really never have.  I don’t know.  But it’s a lot different than the stereotypical wedding, since there is no make out session in front of the Priest, no opportunity for objections to be heard like in the movies, no rice or doves launched into the air, and shockingly no bouquet of flowers being thrown behind the bride.  This is what I think of when I hear the word “wedding” but I was even more pleased to see the look on my friend’s face when he saw his bride-to-be coming down the aisle with her father.

The gaze on his face was an unfamiliar sight to me in conjunction with the smile that was in restraint as it slowly got bigger with every step forward his new Mrs. took… My friends have eyed a lot of cute girls in the past, but this stare was different — and intensely focused on her for the entire day and night that I saw him.  Clearly this gaze is a byproduct of two people willing to love each other forever.

Perhaps the challenge is that many lovers come and go, and I fear that our generation is more predisposed to that type of behavior now more than ever before.  Travel is so much more prevalent, as is the concept that polyamory in between many cities of the world should be an acceptable fate for future romance.  But permanence is important in loving relationships, at least from this perspective in being raised by two wonderful parents who are still together.

If not for love, than what about for future generations?  “Do it for the kids,” they say.  America’s middle class is deteriorating, and marriage is one of the few items left that seems to be holding our social fabric together these days.  There is much debate on both sides of the aisle regarding single parent households contributing to increasing crime rates, but much of the interpretation is narrow-sighted given the overwhelming amount of variables in available data.  I’m a firm believer in statistics, yet math is often skewed by interpretation.

As with anything controversial, it is best to experience both arguments and draw a conclusion for yourself based on the best available data.  Charles Murray is the author both of this WSJ article, and of the book Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010, which explores the splitting of America’s middle class.  His argument is rebutted by Philip Cohen, a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park, who is the author of this article in The Atlantic and of the book The Family: Diversity, Inequality, and Social Change.

Mr. Murray suggests four fundamental characteristics reinforce a happy life, with two character traits: honesty and perseverance, and two societal connections: deep relationships with humanity, and a satisfying marriage.  It would appear that I am lacking the fourth, and should take kindly to this renewed reminder of people my age getting married and having kids.  Am I afraid to grow up?  Do I need to dedicate more time to searching for a life partner?  I am already happy with this stage of my life, though that may be a positive precursor to a future relationship since you have to have your own problems resolved before you can attempt to help someone else through theirs.

If anything sums up the right feeling though, marriage is not a matter of pure logic, it is a matter of the heart and a confident outlook on life summed up by the way that people like Wes gaze longingly into the eyes of their life partner.  Marriage is the pact that transforms commitment from inwardly concern into a deep outlook for building a new family.  As for me, my committed relationship is owed only to humanity, and should a satisfying marriage ever present itself, there most certainly will be a day to reckon further.