The Chicago Sun-times had an article yesterday about the falling rates of marriage for women in our country (apparently 40% of women choose not to marry).
Commenters speculated on the reasons for this dip. Some pointed to higher-achieving women. Others blamed high fructose corn syrup.
It got me thinking about whether I would have been as happy at this point in my life had I not married. I feel strongly that I would not be for reasons that span upbringing, religion, and a desire to walk through this life with one true partner.
Neither my husband nor I wear our wedding rings. Joe's hands are susceptible to injury at both jobs (he had a chunk of finger sewn back on after lopping it off at the firehouse a few years ago). Yet Joe looks married. Ring or no ring. Perhaps it is just his slow gait of defeat.
For me, I don't like the feel of rings. It reminds me of an itchy tag on the back of a shirt. Yet despite our lack of outward appearance regarding our union, we still feel very much married. Would it be the same without a certificate? Would our bond be as complete?
I jokingly tell my husband that he is legally mandated to put up with me. Yet in all actuality, he could walk out whenever he wanted. I know this, but I don't fear it.
Maybe my confidence comes from age. We weren't exactly spring chickens when we wed. I was 30 and he was 32. I knew he had a grumpy side, and he knew I was prone to flying off the handle on occasion (especially when the guy pays full price for laundry detergent).
Still, we both experienced a host of relationships throughout our 20s which taught us that this stuff is really hard. There is a lot of compromise and listening required. We've learned to wait out the bad spells and enjoy the good days. To get up in front of God and all of creation and make the promise to stick it out no matter what....well, there's something to that. It meant something to me.
I could never support a woman staying in a "bad" marriage (one that involves abuse or cheating), but I could support a woman staying in a "boring" one. That's what they don't tell you in the manual. It all gets pretty repetitive after a while.
Fortunately, I am half Rain Man. I like consistency. I like ritual and routine.
I like marriage.
I don't know if that makes me old-fashioned, naive, or anti-feminist. But getting married is the best thing I have ever done. I just wish it didn't always get such a bum rap. I sometimes feel marriage is being bullied. It is not considered cool or trendy. It gets mocked quite often (see: Kim Kardashian). It is the geeky kid in the front of the class who gets beat up at recess. Words like "antiquated" and "obsolete" are used in describing marriage and its values.
So I am here today to tell the world to stop picking on my pal. It is fine if you don't want to hang around marriage. I get that not everybody likes my friend. I understand that maybe marriage has made some mistakes over the years. Alienated some people even. But the marriage I know has never been anything but respectful and loving.
Perhaps it's time we can cut it just a little bit of slack, eh?