I’ll never get married again, but in a hypothetical world, my future wedding vows:
“I promise that, right now, I love you more than I’ve ever loved anyone or ever thought it was possible to love someone. I promise to work really hard – harder than you’ve ever seen me work – to protect and preserve our intimate connection and our life together. . . . If we can’t make it work, I promise to be honest and to treat you with love and respect as we go our separate ways.”
And that’s ok, because, as Louis CK would say, no good marriage has ever ended in divorce.
No, my partner and I are not currently discussing marriage. Not even close. If we were going to discuss it, I would venture to guess that we would start the discussion around age 30 or so, with a wedding not soon to follow. But if you’ve ever been in a truly intimate relationship, you know that these things come up and that it doesn’t feel like a big deal to talk about them. So, yeah, we’ve talked about it. I’m pretty sure I’ll never get married again. First of all, I’m not even divorced yet. HA! It’s so much fucking trouble to get it done, and my ex and I have just been too lazy. To be fair, I’ve filled out my paperwork and am waiting on him, but it’s a real pain in the ass, so I’m understanding of his procrastination. If I ever have to go through this again, I’ll shoot my eye out, so why get married in the first place? I am not one of those divorcees who is now bitter and jaded and doesn’t believe in marriage. Well, I’m not a divorcee at all yet, but you know what I mean. I think I still believe in marriage for some people (I’m actually not entirely sure, but it doesn’t really matter). It’s just not for me. I don’t say that because I have a fear of commitment or because I have some agenda to fight against the state’s institutionalization of love and family. Rather, I say it because I believe it is entirely impossible to make promises about your future actions and feelings for the rest of your life.
I can never again in good conscience promise to love someone forever or promise to stay by someone’s side no matter what. I would rather never get married again, but my current partner would really like to get married and have a wedding someday. He says it’s not fair because I already got to have that, and I can sympathize. My wedding was fucking awesome and one of the happiest days of my life. I’d be blessed to have two, but what is a wedding anyway? A wedding is a huge party that you spend an arm and a leg on so that you and all your closest friends can party like it’s 1999. Hell, I’d do that again, but does there have to be a marriage? I have no problem signing the paper, filing joint tax returns, owning property together, or maybe even buying some kids, but what I cannot do is stand at the alter and say “’til death do us part.” If he wants to have a wedding, let’s have a wedding. Let’s only invite the people we actually like. Let’s do everything just the way we want to, sending convention to the wind. For me, that means walking up that aisle, looking him in the eye and saying, “I promise that, right now, I love you more than I’ve ever loved anyone or ever thought it was possible to love someone. I promise to work really hard – harder than you’ve ever seen me work – to protect and preserve our intimate connection and our life together. I promise to do my absolute best to take care of you and be your partner in every area of life that you want or need. I promise that, at this moment, I fully intend to spend the rest of my life with you. I really hope that we get to grow old together and truly enjoy every moment and that it continues to be in both our best interests’ to hold each other’s hand and be each other’s confidant, support, and best friend. If we can’t make it work, I promise to be honest and to treat you with love and respect as we go our separate ways.” Ok, so maybe we could leave that last line out just for the sake of people who are listening, but we’ll both know that’s what we mean. I absolutely cannot hold the convention of marriage above both my own and my partner’s wellbeing. I cannot promise to stay with someone when I truly believe it is not in either of our best interests.
It strikes me as pure insanity to continue doing something that you know isn’t good for you just because five or ten or twenty or thirty years ago you promised you would. You know what that sounds like to me? Pride. I can only think of two reasons why people would do such a thing: moral/religious conviction and pride. I had to get over both when I separated from my ex, and that was not easy. Once I was able to shed the marriage-is-for-life-and-if-you-get-divorced-God-will-punish-you mindset, I then had to get over the if-I-just-stick-it-out-and-suffer-God-will-reward-me mindset. Once I did both of those things, I still had to get over what everyone would think. I thought of all the people who told us we were getting married too young and that we should wait. I thought of all the people that thought we had a perfect relationship and what they’d think. I thought of all the people I’d told how different Michael’s and my relationship was and what true intimacy we shared. I thought of all the people who knew about our experiment with a semi-open relationship and how they’d definitely think that was the cause of our divorce. It was nothing but pure and raw pride holding me back from doing what I knew was right for me and for him. I had to stand up and scream, “I was wrong. We were wrong.” (I actually don’t think we were wrong. I think we were right and then it became wrong, but it doesn’t matter too much for this discussion). When he told his mom, she literally said to him “We tried to tell you…”, which was “I told you so” in different words. You’d think the “I told you so” people would be happy that you were changing your mind, separating, and making what they thought was the right decision, even if it was a little late. Instead, it was the same people who said “I told you so” and thought we shouldn’t have gotten married in the first place who were completely convinced that we should stay married no matter what. Again, pure insanity. It was like they were so overwhelmed by their own pride that they said, “We tried to tell you, but because you didn’t do what we said, you made your bed, so lie in it.” Thank God for being an adult and getting to do as I please. I mean that.
Phew, that was a small tangent there. The point is that, if my partner really wants to get married, I’ll do it, but it won’t really be a marriage per se. It will be my promise of present feeling and future intention and nothing more, which I still think is pretty powerful and that I know will be enough for the right guy.