Thursday, March 15, 2012

Is marriage a right of passage?

We've all heard the argument about how gay people are ruining "family" and "marriage" in our country. Most of us have also heard someone reply, "We don't need gays to ruin marriage, straight people are already doing that -- (insert divorce statistic here)" But what if neither one of these is true -- what if, in fact, marriage is ruining us?

Before you roll your eyes and go back to planning your wedding on Pinterest, hear me out. Since we're born, we've been hearing all about this dream wedding every human being on this earth is surely going to have. If any of your parents had friends with a baby of the opposite sex than you, they probably joked about how you would grow up and get married. Even throughout grade school and middle school, your siblings teased you about the guy or girl in your class that you were going to get married to. Though I hate to admit it, the idea of getting married puts stars in my eyes, too.

What is this constant obsession doing to us as a culture? Did anyone ever stop to think that maybe marriage is not the way to go? Maybe couples might not split up if they were not married. For example, everyone knows that woman who is staying in a relationship with the wrong guy just because her biological clock is ticking and she doesn't want to start over again finding someone new. So they stay with the guy, get married, have kids, and when all the fun stuff is over get a divorce. I know this is a little dramatic, and not every couple is like this, but it definitely happens more than it should.

Why not just commit to a person, and skip the whole marriage part? Catholics beware, but I think our culture has advanced enough to realize that it is not a devilish sin to have a baby before you have a diamond on your finger. Sometimes I wonder if people are more obsessed with the actual wedding than the marriage. With TV shows like Say Yes to the Dress, Four Weddings, and Bridezilla, it's hard NOT to think about what kind of dress you want, what kind of ring, etc. But maybe we'd take a little bit of the pressure off if we did not make such a big deal out of the ceremony and concentrated more on strengthening your bond as a couple.

I've heard people laugh at the thought of couples going through counseling before the wedding even happens -- but I think it's smart. It means you are aware of the fact that you are merging two lives together and it is going to be a lot harder than picking out the cake.

In the past, people had to get married because it was looked down upon to have kids out of wedlock, but haven't we moved past that? I know marriage works great for some people, but it seems like some people just aren't cut out for it. Maybe people were not meant to be monotonous for their entire lives -- and maybe that is okay, after all. But just because it is not cut out for you does not mean you'd make a bad mother or father; you can still provide a stable environment. It might help our culture if we stop spoon feeding the idea of marriage to our infants before they can even walk; that way we all won't have to feel so bad when a marriage fails.

What do you think -- does our culture put too much emphasis on the ceremony and not enough on the actual marriage?