Nothing I’ve said about the modern marriage is a lie. Propaganda has shaped our popular perception of this broken tradition—structurally maintained by religion, the status quo and a desire to foster safe environments for children. Romance is manufactured and consumed by our society at a startling rate—a sad truth among a love-starved populace more accustomed to debt than self-worth. But through all these factoids, the critical puns and witty historical observation, there is something lost in translation—something left that is unexplained. For me, the moment happened last Friday, when my research was met with humanity, my judgment with joy and my confusion eased by close company.
Weather or not I believe in marriage, weather or not marriage is passé, broken, ridiculous or suicidal—whatever marriage fails to accomplish with expectations and promises of forever, it still somehow manages to bring people together (for better or worse) and produce a uniquely human experiences—an experience that makes people remember (if only momentarily) that they’re alive, that we are human.
I watched two small children walk down the aisle in hand with an adult who kept them on course. It didn’t matter that I didn’t know these small children. I looked upon their faces and saw my own youth, saw the misunderstanding, the confusion and endless possibility that lay before them—extending out so much further than the petal covered grass. Then, the mother and father of the groom (still married) hand-in-hand and I saw the past—a past far less complicated than what we have grown to inherit. I smiled thinking that even if they were the only couple in the world not separated by circumstance, that would be good enough. The bride entered from the eastern lawn and the alternative music playing was a symbol of this couple’s sense of self.
I don’t understand what makes some marriages last and others end—whether marriage is about forever, religious commitment or a strange way of collecting property. But marriage is something that I can’t imagine our world without—we need reminders of how delicate and precious we are in-between moments where promises are often broken.
The officiate asked everyone in the crowd to express a prayer, to exchange energy—a thought for this couple’s future through a brief moment of silence. Heads lowered as I stared upon the sweet couple and it was a total mind f***. I swear I could feel the effort of every person within 100 feet of me push their hope, their dreams, their love upon the bride and groom. I felt the whole energy of the beach shift as if they were the last two people on the planet—the earth projecting all of its resources so that they might have the strength to carry on the human race.
I was tripped-out. There was so much love on the beach as the sun was setting—I thought this must be why people go to church. Collectively.
Maybe it’s not marriage that’s broken. The ideas seem fair. They seem like they’re the basis for good intentions. Maybe it’s easier to not believe in marriage because then there’s no responsibility to succeed, no judgment of failure. It’s easier to point a finger in a spouse’s face than look in a mirror. I’d rather be reminded of being human.