I reluctantly tried marriage – once. I didn’t know how to get out of it which means I ultimately just went through with it. It was the highly not recommended – submission over admission approach.
A year and a bit after he, I and the State of Colorado formed our three-way legal relationship, his affair with a mutual friend was exposed and then ensued the legal unraveling via a pile of paperwork (32 pieces to be exact) that dissected everything down to who gets which fork.
Thirty two pieces of paper and State of Colorado sanctioned waiting time complete, I was divorced. I was uncertain about a lot of things at the time but what was a definite for me was this – I wasn’t really sure I wanted to get married the first time and I sure as hell was never (EVER!) doing that shit again.
Then a lot of years went by.
David, my boyfriend and I were sitting on the couch talking about our future and our life plans when he quietly said, “What about getting married?”
I have seen enough romantic movies to know what my response to this was supposed to be. Instead I said: “Doesn’t that scare the shit out of you?!?!”
To which his response was, “Yes, but…”
From there the conversation is blurry. I do remember something along the lines of saying, “Err, ahh, ummm, let’s talk about, let’s think about, errrr….”
Then I did what I believe most people do when asked the marriage question.
I went to Office Depot.
I cried the entire way to their writable CD section.
When I returned home with the CD-RW I found the house immaculate, a fire was burning in the fireplace and David waiting for my Office Depot purchase so he could rebuild both of my computers. This was not anything out of the ordinary. This was David.
The nights that followed involved sleep until the wee hours until I awoke with questions ticker taping through my brain, “Could I…? Should I….? How can I…? Could I…? Should I…?” After a few early mornings
I got out of bed and did the only thing I know to calm the ticker tape.
I got pen and paper and interviewed myself. It looked something like this.
What are you afraid of?
Getting trapped in a marriage again.
What is trapped?
Unable to get out
Are you being ridiculous?
What else are you afraid of?
Paperwork, asshole husbands, misery, court houses that make you fill out paperwork, asshole husbands.
Is David an asshole?
Would David be an asshole husband?
Is David someone you could see spending the rest of your life with?
Do you want to spend the rest of your life with David?
A legal pad full of Q & A, a few weeks and about 300 dollars later we were married in my mom’s living room on a Monday evening. The judge of the town I grew up in came over after he was done with work to marry us. David and I were two of the six people in attendance. I wore my three dollar flip flops and a summer dress I plucked out of my sister’s closet the night before. David wore shorts and a shirt he had bought 90 minutes prior. We celebrated at Slo’s, a barbeque place I can’t recommend enough if you are ever in Detroit and that was it.
And that was all we wanted it to be.
In all of this, our conversation on whether we were going to buy wedding rings went something like this:
“Should we get rings?”
“I don’t need one.”
I did not, however, always feel this way.
I used think that not wearing a wedding ring was crap.
I thought it was disrespectful to the marriage and an affront to your spouse. You ‘needed’, I thought, to tell the world that you were married. You ‘needed’ to make the visual announcement that you were ‘taken’. You ‘needed’ that symbol as a daily reminder of marriage and commitment. Then my first marriage ended when his affair with a woman that sat at our table during our wedding came out.
Awareness was not the problem.
Jewelry was not the solution.
Of course, rings can be symbols of things far more virtuous and more supportive of a relationship than announcing availability status, yet who amongst us has ever heard an account of marital compassion, kindness or love because ‘the ring made me do it’?
Combine this with the fact that the chosen symbol of committing to couplehood typically costs thousands of dollars (on the low end), serves as daily encouragement to continue human and child slavery throughout the diamond trade and is the silent societal benchmark of bank account status (or more likely credit card limit) and – well – when are we going to start asking, “What is this thing really symbolizing? Do we really need it? And is there a better option??”
In a world where the wedding holds countless antiquated traditions and where marriages are failing before they barely begin should we not be examining the ‘why’ of these traditions to see what, if anything, they truly mean to enjoying each other? And should we not be deeply troubled that these traditions most people blindly buy into, are solely about the symbols and ceremony of love rather the actual acts of it? And if the initiation of all of this marital mindlessness begins with an engagement ring should we not be beginning our examination there?
I certainly think so.
Regardless of what the marital mega-marketing machine would like or what tradition has led us to believe the only meaningful symbols of love are acts of love. And there is not a ring out there that allows any of us to bypass this fact. An act of love can also be symbolic but a symbol of love can never serve as an act of it. David and I’s engagement did not involve rings. It involved what I believe to be of far greater significance. Many couples let their fears tear them apart. David and I decided to put our fears aside and committed to being together. And I do not believe there is a symbol more powerful, an act of love greater or a more beautiful first step into marriage together – than that.
This was originally published on TheSkoolofLife
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