About a month ago, my husband read an article to me about why less and less women are choosing to get married.
The general hypothesis was that marriage simply wasn't as good of a "deal" as it used to be.
A few reasons they mentioned included that women are earning more and can support themselves. They also cited that more women aren't willing to put up with as much as they used to. And finally, that women aren't willing to settle. Meaning, if they can't find exactly what they want in a partner they'd rather stay single.
Some of these reasons I agree with and some, not so much.
These types of articles on marriage always give me a chance for some introspection.
It got me asking 'Well, why do people choose to get married?' And further, 'Why did I choose to get married?'
Like many others, I didn't have the greatest examples growing up. This left me with both a deep desire for a happy marriage and a deep-seated fear of it. Questions have always raced through my mind such as,
"What if I end up divorced?"
"What if I'm not listening to my intuition?"
"How do you know if they're 'the one'?"
But yet, all around us, without the odds always in our favor, people are still choosing to give marriage a shot.
Fast forward a few weeks.
I recently went to one of my best friend's weddings, and I had the chance to catch up with some high school buddies. Many of them came with significant others, but two of my guy friends were solo. Later in the night while taking a break from the dance floor, I had the opportunity to speak with one of them alone.
He was telling me about his life and the conversation turned to relationships. He said that none of his recent relationships had lasted more than a few months, and that he was having a lot of fun as a single guy.
I could sense there was something more.
He told me that he really enjoyed reading my blog and said, "I'm a single guy. I love going out and I can still get girls to come home with me. Why would I want to settle down and get married?"
Wow. Great question.
Before I share my response, I want to say that only you can truly answer this for yourself, beloved reader. I'm not here to convince anyone of anything or to make any judgements whatsoever.
Marriage isn't right for everyone, and it may not be right just because you're at the age where you feel like you "should" be getting married. It can't be forced.
But I felt my friend was legitimately seeking an answer here. I started mumbling stuff about wanting a family and the things I had recently read in the article, but then it hit me and I suddenly blurted out:
"Commitment exists to teach us how to love."
You see, many people think that the way they feel in the beginning of a relationship will be captured forever if they get married. Or that marriage can be their sole source of happiness.
Most people who've been married for awhile will tell you this isn't the case.
Sure, it can be a great source of happiness and fulfillment. And you can feel very much in love. But you probably won't feel happy or in love all of the time.
You have to have other areas of your life you feel passionate about, other friendships and relationships that give you joy.
But commitment can teach us how to love in a way that those first few months of a relationship can't. It's a vehicle for growth. An opportunity to see someone for who they really are.
To see their fears, doubts, insecurities, annoyances and their kindness, talents, tenderness and wisdom. To see of all this and still choose love again and again.
To see your own insecurities rear their ugly and to choose forgiveness towards yourself.
This type of love is born from commitment. It's both hard and easy, fast and slow, beautiful and ugly. A dance between two people. An act of creation.
Peter and I celebrated our six month anniversary of marriage this Thanksgiving. We're only a wee little bit down the road.
I don't know what will happen in 10 years or 20 years and I've stopped trying to figure it out. I just know that we can continue to choose love now.
We can continue to grow, every single day.
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