I don’t know if I’ve ever believed in marriage.
I wasn’t born with any particular beliefs, opinions, or ideas about anything, but that soon changed. A mere eighteen months after I was born, my parents, young, and incompatible, divorced. It wasn’t nasty, it didn’t tear me apart, I never wished for them to get back together, and it didn’t damage me. Its only effect is the saddest disbelief in something so remarkable. My parents’ divorce left me with a lack of understanding of marriage, not quite grasping the how and what. But it was my father’s second divorce, then my mother’s that made me question the why. What was the point in marriage, and promises, if it really didn’t mean anything?
The idea of two people promising to be together for the rest of their lives is, to me, far-fetched. To promise that you’ll want another person for the next sixty years is absurd. How do you know what you’ll want to eat for lunch in a month, let alone whom you’ll love in the next generation? It’s not that I don’t support marriage, because ironically I do. I wholeheartedly hope that every couple that gets married is happy. I’m the dutiful bridesmaid trusting skeptically that somehow this will be the one that makes it; I’m helping the one that will weather the first year storm. That was the aspiration I had as maid of honor for both my parents at their second weddings. But in no time at all, they both fell apart, within six months of each other.
Regardless of my disappointment, I hope every time that two people step up to that alter, that one will renew my faith in such an amazing idea. The idea that two people love each other enough to promise the rest of their lives to the other, is such an unbelievably wonderful concept. I wish that I could have faith in such a love.
Nothing I have seen, heard or experienced has ever given me reassurance in holy matrimony, while I strangely have an unreserved trust in love. An optimist would say the two go together like peas and carrots. Yet somehow, I disagree sincerely. Love is something that lasts. Marriage is the thing that ends abruptly. I don’t believe that every love is successful or strong perpetually, but I do believe that you never forget your first love or your second or third. You remember that love, evoking the memory of something that hasn’t died, but has merely faded.
I don’t think I ever believed in marriage, but I have blind faith in love.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.