Marriage vs. Committment

Autumn - Zeeland, Michigan
Entered on May 25, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

“When are you getting married?” is the question my boyfriend and I are asked at every social gathering. What is marriage? There are a variety of definitions if you look in the dictionary, but the number one definition is “…the social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments…” Yet, what does marriage really mean? We live in a culture where marriage is thought of as a step in one’s life which is unfortunately cursed with divorce. Growing up I thought of my wedding day…the loving man I would marry, my wedding dress, my wedding colors, and the list goes on. However, I never imagined how one relationship could change and shape my view of marriage.

I was lucky to meet the man of my dreams when I was sixteen. Although, eight years ago, I could not imagine what our relationship would become. I grew up in a traditional family with both parents who just celebrated their 25th anniversary. Honestly, I did grow up thinking of marriage as step in my life – one day in my mid-twenties I would get proposed to with my dad’s approval, I would have the wedding of my dreams, and live happily ever after. However, my boyfriend did not have the same views. He grew up in a family where his mother was married and divorced three times and had multiple boyfriends throughout his childhood. Not to mention his grandparents were divorced, along with both uncles and his older sister. So, as you could imagine, he did not have the same beliefs of marriage as I had. In fact, while I was excited about our wedding day, he was dreading it – afraid of the “family tradition” of divorce.

My boyfriend and I have lived together for the past six years and we do plan on being together for the rest of our lives. We have discussed our future and our beliefs of marriage, both believing that marriage lasts a lifetime and there is no option of divorce. So, back to my question, what is marriage? After experiencing a committed relationship, I believe that marriage is overrated. Yes, a celebration of our love would be fun, but we do this daily with our friends and family around us. A diamond ring and an official document do not define commitment, or marriage for that matter. I believe that if you are committed to each other why add the stress of marriage and its stigma in correlation with divorce? When the time is right, marriage will happen, not because I am twenty-five and the next step in my life is to get married. No one should live their life under a “social institution”. Happiness with the one I love and the personal commitment we share is my definition of a marriage, not a “legal commitment”. So now when I am asked at EVERY social gathering “why aren’t you married yet?” that is how I respond.