Not everyone should be bound by marriage

By Lydia

(U-WIRE) East Lansing, Mich. — Young people are expected to anticipate the tradition of marriage like it’s a beautiful event, the beginning of a new life with that special someone. Marriage isn’t something you’re supposed to dread or avoid like the plague. By the time someone hits the big 3-0, it’s time to think about settling down — if you haven’t already — and saying “I do” before churning out the kids. It’s an official celebration to declare your love.
But it’s also a good excuse to gorge yourself on fancy food and hear some swingin’ tunes.
And that is why I agreed to meet my parents, who have been married for almost 25 years, in Detroit last weekend and hop a plane to Seattle for a relative’s wedding. I didn’t go for the frilly outfits or the hopes of snagging a beau. I wanted free stuff compliments of the ‘rents: a clean hotel room, real food and a change of scenery. I agreed to put a smile on my face (or at least hug the relatives) in exchange for a trip to Seattle. Forget the serious, lovey-dovey, monogamous commitment, “Oh, what a beautiful dress” crap — I wanted a vacation.
Aside from the culture shock of a family vacation, my venture to the West Coast was worthy of my time. I saw the sights in Seattle and had a couple of nice dinners.
At the wedding reception, though, my parents pushed me to join the crowd of women hoping to catch the bride’s bouquet. A well-meaning relative, overhearing my mother urging me to join the group of women, piped in, “It’ll be your turn soon!” accompanied by a toothy grin.
Beside the fact that my nerves were raw after three days with my parents, the suggestion that I try to grab the bouquet was absolutely nauseating.
While I’m sure humoring the rich relatives and the parents by swatting at a bunch of flowers — the woman who catches it is supposedly the next to be hitched — would have entertained them, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it, and I escaped in search of a piece of chocolate cake.
I just don’t find the traditional definition of marriage appealing. Independence is very important to me, and I don’t like to share my cookies with anyone, much less agree to devote myself to only one person for the rest of my life just because it’s expected. Marriage causes more problems than it’s worth, including a high divorce rate.
Participating in the activities that marriage merits (living together, raising kids, mowing the lawn) isn’t what irks me. It’s the label, the ineffectiveness and official-ness of it all that creeps me out. Getting the government and a church involved just to declare your love for someone is a high price to pay for a big party, some tax refunds and the often-inevitable divorce.
Catching that bouquet would have been too much for me to handle, like my mom would have taken that as the official word to start calling caterers or something.
But so many people, even younger than me, are engaged, married or juiced up to pop the question. I find myself scanning the marriage notices for high school friends when the weekly copy of my hometown newspaper arrives in my mailbox. Every May, I hear about friends, just graduated from MSU, pledging to be married as soon as possible. I’d rather live my life and experience the freedom of being young while I still can, instead of strapping on the shackles of marriage right after college.
A July 20 article in Newsweek attempted to examine the state of marriage today. The article said Generation Xers aren’t necessarily reluctant to get married, even though the divorce rate is at a record high. They want to attempt marriage, but they aren’t too confident on how to make their marriage work.
The article detailed numerous couples, all energized about their particular stage in the marriage process. Most of the couples sounded like they’ve always known they would get married — it was just the natural thing to expect. However, one couple did point out that they got married for each other, not just for the sake of getting married.
But it is possible to have long-term, stable relationships — comparable to marriages — without the binding piece of paper we call a marriage license. An article in the August issue of Jane, a women’s magazine started by the former editor of Sassy, explored group relationships. Some of the relationships discussed in the article were traditional marriages. The rest of the article included descriptions of relationships that each person in a marriage had with other people.
One point in the story was that relationships with more than one person don’t exist just for sex; there is a big emotional factor, too. And with a group of people involved in a relationship, the article said honesty is more important, and more likely, to be practiced.
Before accepting that marriage to one person is the inevitable choice, think if that’s what you really want. Traditional marriage is not a requirement, and should not be expected of everyone. Also, intense, satisfying relationships with more than one person at a time are possible. There’s nothing wrong with finding someone to love and spend time with, but devoting you life to that person through marriage isn’t necessary.
This article originally appeared Wednesday in the State News (Michigan State University).