Soooooo. I was going to make one huge whopping post about marriage, in reponse to the lovely North Carolina marriage amendment debaucle of the other day, but it ended up being too long. So here is part two, while I enjoy a lovely May afternoon and a very quiet little row house.
Every time I hear someone talk about how marriage equality ruins the sanctity of marriage, I want to smack them. The ease of getting married has ruined marriage. It is so easy to pop in and out of marriage, that the gravity of marriage no longer exists. It doesn’t matter who’s getting married to whom, it’s just not that serious of an endeavour these days because it’s relatively easy to undo. If both parties agree, it might take as little as a month which is rediculous for something that has such a huge impact on everyone involved.
Other things that have ruined marriage include, but are not limited to, fairy tales, porn, high fashion magazines, woman’s liberation, plastic surgery, two-income family structure, shrinking of the extended family, women in the workplace, peter pan syndrome, television, popular culture, advertising, increased house size, over-consumption of goods, artificial colors and flavors, advances in science and technology, and broccoli – just about anything and everything that affects us, our families, our society, and the world at large. Marriage, once a strong staple of society’s structure, now seems to be volatile in its wake.
Certain things need rules to support them, to give them shape and definition, like the beams of a house or the stays in a corset. For example, a marathon requires 26.2 miles to be a marathon, no more no less. When you say you’ve run a marathon, people react with either horror or awe, but they understand the commitment. And those who decide to run a marathon can’t claim the accomplishment unless they finish it. If a marathon was arbitrary, and whatever length you wanted it to be, it would cease to have meaning and no one would respect the accomplishment.
Marriage is not unlike a marathon. It takes work, sometimes pain, and unwavering committement. The marathon will know if you weren’t faithful to your training schedule and you will not be able to finish the race. But, what glory, what respect, what endorphines to those who finish! Marriage should be like a marathon, demanding and rewarding – equally! Marriage should be at least as serious as a marathon. After all, it’s supposed to last the majority of your adult life. So this is what I would do if I was in charge of things.
1 – Mandatory 12 month waiting period between filing for your marriage license and becoming officially married. Not only does this give everyone plenty of time to plan, it reduces the chance of people getting carried away with the wedding and forgetting that marriage lasts a whole lot longer. It would give couples a nice long time to get used to the idea. Disclaimer – the Husband and I were hitched within six months. A year wouldn’t have been that awful, though. I could have made a much bigger dress.
2 – Mandatory marriage school. All couples should take a series of courses on marriage laws in your state, budgeting, child-raising, effective communication, cooperation, cooking, first aid, and housekeeping. You don’t get your license until you complete marriage school. Optional electives include managing religious differences, crazy family members, and home improvement. No passing or failing grades – simply the opportunity to know your future spouse better before you make the final commitment. If this doesn’t sound like fun, what do you think marriage is going to be like then?
3 – Disclosure statement for both physical and financial health. There shouldn’t be any surprises more than what the future already will throw at you. Sometimes a little advanced knowledge allows a couple to work together through the issues instead of reacting against each other.
4 – Signed marriage contract that outline requirements. For some it’s fidelity, for others might be having kids, cleaning the toilet, etc. All involved parties should have a clear idea of what’s expected.
5 – Once married, unless in mortal danger, each person must pay no less than 20% of their gross yearly income to petition for divorce. That’s before lawyer/court fees. This would go into funding marriage school and filing paperwork.
Sounds harsh but marriage is not a requirement. No one needs another person to thrive in this country. And, if you knew all those items were required, and what the consequences of failure were beforehand, I bet you would take marriage more seriously.
I can say that we (the Husband and I) would have gladly done the above and would readily do so again if requested. It hasn’t been easy but we are as committed today as we were 12 years ago. I really hope we continue to enjoy our journey together for many, many years. I hope all committed couples, who understand what marriage requires and wish to enter with eyes wide open, will get a chance to enjoy all that marriage has to offer.