I am five months from my 40th birthday.
I am on the cute end of the scale, my personality is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, which may or may not increase the cuteness factor. I’m in decent shape, I eat well, I love the outdoors, I have hobbies, I laugh. A lot. I am surrounded by love. I love myself, I have friends that I cherish, a family that supports my decisions and I adore my beautiful man.
I was talking with a friend a few years back. He asked me,
“How many times have you been married?”
I said, ”None.”
“How many times have you been engaged?”
“What is wrong with you?”
“Nothing is wrong with me. I don’t want to get married.”
He said, “You are a unicorn!”
I laughed and let him know that yes, I am in fact a unicorn, but that’s because my life is magical and not because a happy, healthy, unmarried woman is some kind of mythical creature.
Since then this subject has come up over and over again, especially since I’m nearing the big 40.
I don’t feel that I need to defend my decision, and I am not against marriage—I think it’s wonderful for some people.
Here are my thoughts on marriage and the equally important big gasp accompanied by the question, “Don’t you want to have a beautiful wedding someday?”
I don’t remember how many weddings I have attended. I have been a bridesmaid 19 times. I’ve witnessed vows spoken, tears cried, couples drunk on love, beautiful gowns, unique cakes, first kisses, first dances, fathers holding daughters and hugging new sons, great toasts, terrible toasts, dance parties that last into mornings, blissful hangovers and all of the beautiful photos.
A wedding is not a marriage. A wedding is a party, a ceremony, a ritual, but it is not a marriage.
A marriage is an agreement between two people, who vow to love each other through all of the changes that life throws at them. It is a promise not to walk away when the shit hits the fan, but to try and have fun every day of the walk together. The down and dirty of it is this—a marriage is a contract filled with expectations that each person agrees to meet over an indefinite amount of years and changes.
Love, on the other hand, is a beautiful feeling, a verb, a notion that allows each person to let go of expectations and allow their partner to be who they are without attachments.
So, how did the contract and the love become so intertwined in the first place, if one places rules on the freedom and unconditional nature that the other allows?
In a fast paced society, based on immediate gratification, I believe that the wedding is what people want. They want the happily-ever-after, the party and the fizzy-love-bliss that accompanies the ceremony.
Marriage often becomes the hangover from all of the wedding-centered love-bliss. Boredom sets in, the inevitable cracks begin to show and the once-happy couple wonders how it got away from them.
If weddings didn’t exist, if religion, tax breaks and sin were removed from the equation, would there still be as many marriages every year?
If people were not allowed to celebrate and have a party and a big white dress until they hit the 25 year mark in the relationship, would the act of signing papers, to prove love and devotion still be so enticing?
I don’t know.
I do know that I feel secure in who I am and a piece of paper isn’t what validates that. A white dress, a ring and a big celebration aren’t going to validate that either. The same goes for my relationships.
I do love a good party. I also love being love-drunk, fizzy feeling, sparkly and all blissed-out.
That’s what unicorns do.
Author: Shannon Mujica
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock