First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage

I read an opinion editorial once about why cohabitation is better than marriage. I have to disagree. This is why.

I met my now-husband in the summertime. We lived about 106 (we counted once) steps from each other’s front door. We were both living with our best friends and were busy with summer jobs and school, but we spent almost every spare minute together.

I remember one night in June talking to my best friend about familiarity. My boyfriend and I didn’t quite have it yet. We did in some ways, but in others, I was only beginning to learn about him, and he about me. But I craved familiarity. Doesn’t it sound perfect? Tell secrets. Know they’ll be kept. Talk about dreams and hopes. Memorize each other’s wardrobes. Cry ugly tears. Laugh it out later. Confess the past. Forget it together. Fill the future with whatever you both choose.

That June, I wasn’t sure what my boyfriend and I would become. I had high hopes that our relationship would continue to progress, and that I would feel that sense of familiarity with him. I hoped, and wondered, and waited.

And time unfolded.

We loved each other enough to commit to familiarity forever through marriage. We surrendered everything to each other. There is no more possibility of us ending. Now, we have a little house where we burn candles to cover up bad smells, dance in the kitchen, hang up our wedding pictures in whatever frames we can get our hands on, cry, complain, laugh, confide, sing — and I truly couldn’t be happier.

Love is familiarity. Love is commitment. Love is forgiveness, respect, compassion, work, and a whole lot of patience. Love is incomparable, and kind, and selfless.

Love can also be terrifying. It’s a scary thing to give yourself to someone. There are so many things that make up me, and I’m not proud of a lot of them. At first, I never wanted my boyfriend-turned-husband to see my weaknesses and shortcomings. I was afraid it would change his opinion of me. I wanted to be perfect in his eyes. But guess what? That’s not what love is. Love is not about leaving when you find out your partner isn’t perfect. Love is seeing and knowing the weaknesses, and looking past them to see someone’s potential. Love is helping each other overcome mistakes and shortcomings.

I believe that true love can only be achieved by committing yourself to another person completely — and the only real way to do that is through marriage. When you choose not to get married, you’re keeping a window open to have everything end in one ill-fated argument. Ultimate trust and commitment come when you make vows to each other in marriage and realize that you don’t have any more “outs.” You have so much security in your complete and total familiarity.

I don’t know what could be better.