Marriage is Antithetical to Love
“One should always be in love. That is the reason one should never marry.” — Oscar Wilde
I wrote a post last year listing the ruminations of marriage by former luminaries. I also outlined my own thoughts about how serving another person is a privilege and honor.
I didn’t know exactly how to find the right person to serve but I argued that if you found someone you would want to serve for the rest of your life, that’s probably a good barometer to know who you can handle.
However, the famous people I quoted were far more cynical. From Coco Chanel to Oscar Wilde, they weren’t very keen on the institution of marriage.
Oscar Wilde especially has a myriad of quotes about how silly and deluded marriage is.
It’s about a year and a half since I wrote that post but I think I now have a better understanding of this whole thing. Allow me to break it down for you.
First and foremost, people tend to think that love must lead to marriage and a wedding. Nothing could be further from the truth.
There are a few women that I’ve come to love but because of incompatibility, we cannot get married much less be in a committed relationship. That’s okay.
Secondly, marriage extinguishes any chance for love to flourish. And while that may seem like a preposterous position given the fact that there are some marriages that are working (despite the fact that half aren’t working), there’s a very simple explanation for it.
When someone asks their partner to marry them and the other person says yes, that’s fine.
When they plan the bridal shower and bachelor party, that’s fine.
When they walk down the aisle, that’s fine.
When they sign the papers to legally bind them and their families together, that’s fine. It’s perhaps the least romantic aspect of the entire ordeal, but it is fine.
You know what absolutely murders the love in a marriage? The vows.
Have you ever thought about marriage and then feel a sinking feeling in your stomach? I know I have and it always has to do with the vows. How can anyone know that they can keep such things “until death?”
A vow is a promise to do something, but if I were to be more tactless about it, a vow is an obligation. By law, you are now to perform a role for your spouse.
I can’t think of a quicker and more effective way to murder love. What’s more is that if you have children, a similar mental contract is struck. You are supposed to love them.
The essence of love is freedom. When you love someone, you do not try to change them. You do not try to control them. They are who they are and you allow them to be exactly that.
Moreover, and this is of paramount importance, you need to love yourself. You need to give yourself freedom.
Someone may treat you terribly. You don’t have to be with them, but you can certainly love them. Someone may treat you well. This person is easier to love and being with them would make sense, depending on the compatibility between you two.
But in any situation, you can give people the freedom to be who they are, to believe what they want and to express themselves.
We see this in the countries where one’s civil liberties are unquestioned versus other countries where you have to be, think and do specific things. People want to be free and if they are not, they will rebel until they get it. Or leave.
So here’s the deal. I think if you get married and take the traditional vows “to have and to hold, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health until death do you part,” you are heading for disaster.
You don’t know if you can do that, so why are you making a promise that you can? This isn’t an email that you promised to send over to Dave in accounting by 2 PM.
I can make that promise to Dave because I’m not feeling a sinking feeling in my stomach that maybe I can’t make that deadline, and that maybe I should make a promise I actually can keep.
Because if Dave fails to get that email, the repercussions of that are not as bad as failing to be loving to your partner; your lovely “ball and chain.”
The repercussions are going to be judgment, condemnation, attempts at reconciliation, more failure, more judgment, more condemnation, more attempts at reconciliation until eventually, everything ends in resentment.
So what is my recommendation? One needs to be free to continue their commitment to their partner on a day to day basis. They must also be free to leave. And of course one’s partner has the same liberties.
I know there are people who are married who took these same traditional vows and are still happily married. That’s great, but it’s not as if the marriage is working because of the vows they said on their wedding day.
Quite honestly, if you think saying some vows at your wedding is going to make your marriage work, I think you’re delusional. People should’ve been committed to their spouse from before anyone popped the question.
Honestly, you could have a wedding and skip the vows completely if you want. But if your spouse is not free to be who they are, how can you do any of the traditional vows anyway?
How can you love someone that must behave in a particular way?
So to the marriages that took the traditional vows and are still crushing, I’m super happy about that! But I believe the reason they’re doing so well is because each person is free to be who they truly are and every day each person maintains their connection, desire and decision to be in the relationship.
The ideal situation is to find someone that is close to what you like and whose idiosyncrasies you can deal with and that you are someone that they like and are able manage your craziness.
But the moment you can’t accept them for who they are, love has been replaced by fear. And if that isn’t nipped in the bud, it will poison the well. It will be the beginning of the end.
If I get married, I will have to change the vows to something I know I can promise. But it is possible that I forego the vows completely. Hopefully my potential spouse can agree to this and see where I’m coming from.
It’s also possible that we do something more practical. No traditional wedding but get married at the courthouse and then have a celebration with family and friends afterwards.
Every wedding I go to I keep thinking that there’s no way I could do it. It’s too much. But these could be my famous last words and then my future wife and I plan some extremely lavish event. I’ve seen that happen.
Who knows what I’ll do. Besides, I’d have to talk to my girlfriend about what she would want to do.
All I know is that the most important thing in a marriage is that the two people are free to be who they are. And if that means things end, so be it. If that means the relationship continues, so be it. The love remains undisturbed.
If either of us make a promise, neither of us are free because we are now burdened by the weight of a promise we cannot fulfill.
And I wouldn’t want to begin my life with the person I love on a lie or wishful thinking.