“we finally got it figured out that
we had truly missed the boat.”
– modest mouse
i met a couple the other night at a birthday party who are not married but living together. this is not uncommon amongst people my age, but still the voices of the more conservative/religious folks in my life came into my head. voices that scold, and tsk tsk, and complain about how young people these days just aren’t honoring the sanctity of marriage.
as B and i prepare to move in together (or rather, as i prepare to move into his place) i have had to wrestle with those same voices. voices from my family, some friends, my past, and even from myself.
voices that somehow nearly always miss the boat.
arguments are constantly flying around about the “sanctity of marriage,” which nearly always refers to marriage solely between a man and a woman, and stresses that couples wait until marriage to “consumate,” if you will, the relationship. i grew up in the Christian church and this pressure was everywhere. in our language, our teachings, our mode of operation. we were taught to pray for our spouses as teenagers, to make lists of qualities we want in a spouse, to hope and wait (and wait and wait and wait).
now, don’t get me wrong, i’m not against marriage by any stretch. in fact, that was one of the conditions of B and i moving in together, that the option of marriage would at least be within sight. we are very open about discussing it, and it is a constant topic of conversation, even if only in jest, around our house.
i just think we’re missing the boat.
with all of our concern with who’s marrying who, and when they get married, or if they get married, etc. etc…we forget to be concerned with the health of the actual relationship. we forget that marriage is actually supposed to be an expression of that relationship, a next step in the journey. not a destination.
it’s supposed to be a manifestation of the deep love and committment a couple share and a bound that can remind them to stay together over time. not just a rubber band that holds them together, pressing them together even when they don’t want to be.
every relationship has a different journey, just as the people in that relationship have unique paths to walk. for B and i, living together is another way of discerning if marriage is the right route for our relationship. we’ve both been in serious relationships, have had our hearts broken, have come from dysfunctional/broken families. we need a bit of extra time and space to figure out if this relationship is important enough to us both to merit such a strong committment. when i broke the news to my dad, he questioned my decision and i answered simply that this is the next step for us.
without the pressure to be married before doing other “stuff,” i/we can more fully focus on growing in love with one another. we are learning to communicate, to encourage, to serve one another through trying and hard times. i fed him after his surgery and he’s made me dinner after exhausting days. he’s practicing being a vegetarian with me and even packed my lunch to ensure i don’t starve at work. i’m learning to hold him tenderly even when i feel scared about things from my past. we are learning to love in both practice and emotion.
“sanctity” simply refers to the sacredness of a thing and i can think of nothing more sacred than two people who love each other in this way.