There are more people talking about the value and sanctity of marriage than there are actually people standing before one another saying, “I do.” Recent studies that revealed that marriage rates were down in the United States — lower than they’ve ever been, in fact. This has rattled marriage protection groups and fueled the conversation over the definition of marriage and its role in modern society. From same-sex couples who want the protection of marriage to domestic partnerships for widows/widowers who refuse to remarry for economic reasons, marriage is a single-source-topic but nobody is on the same page.
What is most important in a marriage: legal protection, shared benefits, status/recognition or the commitment that comes with marriage? It’s a simple question, one that would suggest a simple answer, but marriage is structured to accommodate people of all kinds and with all reasons for why they want to get married. Some marry for money; others for love or for the love of something. Some marry hoping for everlasting love; others marry knowing it will never last. Whereas people once felt the need to get married in order to have children, many seem perfectly happy raising children as single parents.
Studies show that with or without a ring, healthy long-term relationships produce healthy long-living people. One does have to wonder why the issue of marriage takes on such significance. Perhaps the non-marriage is a backlash to all of the years of witnessing so many unhappily married couples, acceptance of affairs, political and Hollywood influence, etc. Possibly, it’s a good time to rethink if we’ve gone too far in the opposite direction.
The major difficulty with marriage is that it’s hard work. Nobody ever teaches the tools to make it work well. We still have an image that a good marriage should flow effortlessly, but that’s mere fantasy. One of the biggest challenges, especially in our workaholic Washington, D.C., is that our priorities are upside down. Most people give their all at the office and give leftovers at home. Just imagine if we flipped it. Picture it as a strong tree, if your roots are strong, your tree will stand strong. But if your tree is flipped, your branches won’t support you like the roots do!
Ultimately, the backbone of marriage is the bond between you and your partner. It is the love you have for one another and share with one another. There is no legal paper with a stamp on it, no word or term, no social stigma that can affect that bond, and that is something that is created between you and another person, from the efforts of each of you. You cannot allow yourself, your partner or your love to be affected by outside influences including religious debates and Hollywood flings.
The fundamental tools of marriage are communication and the knowledge that sex is more than penetration. Nurture your relationship by keeping your bedroom a romper room (no dirty laundry, medicine bottles, sports equipment), and remember that foreplay begins with “I love you” in the morning. But when it comes down to whether or not to say “I do,” just remember that actions speak louder than words, and a marriage is something you do, not something you say.