A defense of marriage

I went to the most beautiful wedding shower this weekend.  It was for a long time friend, K. She lives far away these days but she’s the kind of soul friend that you connect with immediately, even if you’ve not laid eyes on each other for months.
The shower was in a beautifully restored building, a shabby chic antique store way out in the country.  It was on a corner right beside some railroad tracks.  There was an old rusted red Ford pick up truck out in front of a porch, where a string of white lights gave the whole place a soft glow.  Inside the small store, heart of pine floors led thru to the back room where there was a ceramic basin sink big enough for me to climb in.
Sitting on the porch sipping my seltzer with fresh raspberries and listening to the frogs, I felt like I was in a movie.  It was as though the wedding shower was at the Whistle-stop Café.

The name of the store is Gather.  How perfect is that?

It’s so easy to be happy for this couple.  They are real, down-to-earth, wonderful people who are deeply in love with their eyes wide open.  It was lovely to watch the couple’s friends and family come together to celebrate them and their marriage.
I’ve always found weddings magical but not in the wedding-dress-flowers-music-photographer-champagne kind of way.  I just think any two people committing their lives to each other is beautiful, be it in a church or on a patio or while sitting on the couch.  As I sat on that picturesque porch and it started to drizzle, my thoughts turned from this happy couple to marriage as a whole.
There’s been lots of talk of ‘defending marriage’ lately in public discourse.  There’s also lots of waxing philosophical about why marriages fail.


Interesting tidbit: I googled marriage and here were the results:

First you get your marriage license then you get your marriage counselor.
Makes sense to me!

And while I’m not interested in exploring the political side of this debate in my blog today (find me in real life; we’ll talk.), I am sure that my marriage is not threatened by any other couple, gay or straight, wanting to get married.
But I did get to thinking about a ‘defense of marriage’.  If I felt marriage as an institution was threatened what about it would I want to stand up for?  I started brainstorming a list of what marriage is to me and exploring the definition of marriage that I want to defend.  Below is what I came up with….
I defend marriage as….


the promise to get to know your partner over and over again, every day, forever;
the honor of knowing another human being so well that their scent, the way they stand at the coffee machine, the familiar feel of their instep under the bedsheet** feels like home;
a partnership where both halves get permission to be exactly who they are;
being comfortable enough in your couple that it doesn’t matter if other people accept you;
learning to be a good roommate; (Don’t count this one out; it’s surprisingly important. And difficult.)
two people who dismiss ‘happily ever after’ for ‘doing the work to be happy one day at a time’;
learning when to give a little more, when to take a little less, and when to say screw it and order take out.
a safe place to be angry or sad or bitter;
a safe place to tell your partner when it’s time to stop being angry or sad or bitter;
the relationship that pulls each other towards health and growth and accountability, while pushing each other beyond what you’d be comfortable doing alone.
a couple that realizes that marriage isn’t always fun or easy but that the work is well worth it
I was talking to the bride at the shower about vows.  Truth is I’m not much for vows; when B and I got married I said the vows I was told to say.  I echoed some sentiment about loving, honoring, and cherishing ‘til death do us part.
The real vow to me is in the day-to-day.  I certainly don’t live up to my end of the bargain every day, not even close.  But I do my best; I apologize.  I admit my mistakes (usually later than I should but we’ll give me a pass on that one).  I do the laundry.  I say Thank You.
What’s magical about marriage to me is that someone wants to be with me (ME!) and get to know me so well that there are times it’s hard to tell where one ends and the other begins.  And in the end, I’m happy in my marriage because I defend it.  It’s worth defending.

** Source, p.271

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