Who wants to be married? Dying sounds more proactive than being married. The word married, whether used as a noun, verb or adjective, sounds past tense and settled. Married comes across as boring and evokes no excitement. Dating, on the other hand, is an action word. Dating sounds like things are happening, you sense a future with endless possibilities and dreams around the corner. Married rolls off the tongue with the thud of dirt clods falling on a casket.
Think about this: when you are single and looking you are dating. When you've found that special someone and become exclusive to that one person the two of you are still dating. You don't consider yourself to be dated. That only happens when you put a ring on your finger and become married. Of course there's a middle relationship status where you are engaged (again sounding rather stale and settled), but even in that state you and other soon-to-be-wedded couples can tell others you're marrying that special someone at a future date.
It's clear that marriage needs a language makeover. It needs a new word to describe the maturing connection that couples can only acquire through years of life's surprises together. Being married is not the end of dating. Being married is the beginning. Married is putting all your dreams into action. Married is creating a family, a home and career. Married is adventure and laughs.
I'm not Don Draper so I don't have a new special word that makes being married sound like an amusement park stuffed into a bottle. This is the hand the quirky English language has dealt us. I suppose we should be thankful that most couples refer to themselves as married rather than wedded--the latter having dead phonetically in its pronunciation.
It's easy to simply blame the English language, but we've perpetuated the point that once you get married everything is over. Think about it, growing up nearly all our fairy tales tell us that once the prince and princess finally slay the dragon they get married and "The End." That's it. No more adventure or excitement. In the best-case scenario we were left with "Happily Ever After." Welcome to Snoozeville. If this part of the story was so dazzling it would have been the main attraction, not the departing footnote.
Maybe the answer is in our voice. The great thing about language is that a single word spoken by multiple people can mean anything with difference in tone and delivery. Did you know that James Bond was once married? I bet if he were having a conversation about his married life, you'd want a slice. Conversely, if Lewis Black were ranting on the institution you'd probably head for the door screaming.
Let's put it in our voice that being married is sexy, happy, adventurous and fun. Let's all do our best Sean Connery impression when we describe our married life (even though George Lazenby was the Bond who got married). Remember, being married is the payoff for surviving the land mines of dating. Let's start our stories with the first kiss instead of ending them there. Married may not be a perfect word, but when you bundle all the thrills you and your spouse share throughout the years, married is the best word to describe your love story.