“Happiness is only real when shared.” – Jon Krakauer
Historically marriages happened for a lot of reasons, most of them cultural or financial. Sometimes the couple in question had a choice and sometimes they did not, but very seldom did it matter to anyone if they loved or even liked each other. It was expected that at a certain point in life you would fulfill the social contract and enter into the transaction known as marriage.
Today in most western cultures marriage is seen as the ultimate sign of love for your partner. In many cases there are still legal, social, and economic benefits involved, such as enlarging your family, combining resources to purchase and maintain property, or having the financial support to stay home and raise children, but those are now seen as the benefits of finding someone who you love enough to marry rather than the reason for marriage itself. It is no longer an obligation; now it is a desire. Plus you get to have a big party with presents and cake, and who doesn’t want that, right?
I have been in love a few times, and at least once in love enough that I did everything in my power to be with that person for the rest of my life. It didn’t work out, but even when it still looked like it would somehow the topic of marriage never came up. Not because I was waiting for him to bring it up, but because it never really crossed my mind as something we needed to consider. We chose each other every day, we made plans for the future, we were happy, and that was enough for me. What could marriage give me that I didn’t already have?
Over the last couple years a few very close friends have gotten married. These marriages did not occur because my friends are planning to have children, need financial support, are particularly religious, or felt some kind of cultural obligation to tie the knot. They happened because they wanted to be married, not because they needed to be. Because they love each other, and because expressing that love through marriage was important to them.
I love my partner. The reasons I love him could fill a blog post of their own, so I won’t go into that here. Our relationship is the healthiest one I have every been in; we support each other when it’s necessary, make room for independence when it’s not, question and challenge each other to ensure we keep growing as people, plan for the future and accept our pasts, live and own property together, talk about everything, explore new things, and have a fantastic sex and social life. I genuinely can’t think of anything we are missing, and I feel like the very best version of myself when I am with him. Looking ahead I can imagine situations that will present us with challenges, but if we continue as we have been I can’t imagine anything we can’t get through if we try.
Does all of this mean we should get married? I honestly don’t know. I find the idea of marriage intriguing in a way I never have before. In the past it looked like a trap blocking a person from experiencing new things with different people. Being polyamorous any marriage I entered into couldn’t fall into the standard rules marriages have traditionally followed, which I think on some level is why I have never really wanted it. But what if we could write our own definition of marriage, and make our own rules about what that looks like for us? Create something that makes us both feel protected, loved, and heard, that still involves choosing each other every day, and that leaves room for us to have experiences outside of the two of us. Definitions and rules that grow and change as we do, evolving as our relationship does, supporting and nurturing each other without limiting one another.
I don’t know if it’s possible, or if it’s different in any way that what we are doing right now, but it sure is interesting to think about.