I was having a discussion with a friend of mine about the question of marriage, and what we thought about the institution of marriage. It was sort of a one-sided discussion, because I'm 42 and have been married for nearly 16 years, and she's 25 and has never been married. I did all the talking.
My friend is sort of ambivalent about whether she'll get married or not. That's not to say she won't have a significant other in her life, she just may choose not to get married.
"What do you like about being married?" she asked me. I actually had to think about it for a minute, because any reason I can give for being married — having someone to come home to, having someone to share my life with, having someone to grow old with — are the same reasons she can give for living with someone, a la Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. (Those two have never married, but they've been together longer than most actual marriages.)
I wanted to think of that one thing that separated marriage from just living together for years and years. And I got it. One thing I like about being married: the sound of my wedding ring when it goes "thunk" against something. I have a heavy gold wedding ring, a plain gold band. No grooves, diamonds, patterns, or weird decorations. Just a plain gold band.
It makes a nice manly "thunk," it's more than just a sound. It's a reminder of a promise I made.
Nearly 16 years ago, I took an oath. I made a promise that I would love only one person, would be with only one person, would forsake anyone else who came along, just to be with this person.
I realize I could have made that same promise without the ceremony. We could have been Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell and just said, "I really, really mean it. No foolin'," but it wouldn't have meant as much to me. We made a promise to God and to each other in a holy place. Our vows have meaning to us, if for no other reason than where we were and what we believed (and still believe).
Whenever I "thunk" my ring, that's the sound of that promise. It reminds me that when I go home tonight, she's waiting there for me with our kids — someone else we made promises to — and we'll spend one more day together. One more day of forever and ever, 'til death us do part.
Sometimes I'll just "thunk" it just to hear it, so I can remember it on purpose.
That's what I like about being married. The fact that I promised someone something that's supposed to last a lifetime.
So while some people may say they're just as happy never being married, I'm not one to judge or think there's something wrong with them, or that they're missing out. I know what I like, and I know what's right for me. And I wear it on the third finger of my left hand to remind myself of everything it stands for.
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