Overheard at the hospital between two of the information desk staff…
“Yeah, my boyfriend doesn’t really believe in marriage and neither do I.”
“Sure, I think a lot of women these days don’t want to marry. What’s the point?”
“I told my boyfriend I’d like a ring but I don’t need the piece of paper.”
“I mean the ring means something you know? Shows that he cares if he bought it.”
I didn’t know them well enough to say anything and I was pretty much eavesdropping anyway while I was looking up a patient on a computer. But I wanted to say something like “NO! A ring means nothing. A ring is just something someone buys you. Anyone can buy you a ring. A wedding means nothing. A wedding is just a big party. But a marriage…A marriage means everything.”
It reminded me of several years ago at the wedding of a friend who had written her own vows. I was struck with how loosey-goosey and vague they were (I will promise to love you as long as I still feel love in my heart or something to that effect.) Afterward, one of our other friends made the comment that she liked the vows because she felt like “I could promise that. Usually I can’t imagine making the promises that people say.” To give her credit, she never married. I realize that she took the vows seriously, even if she couldn’t make them. I respect that position much more than making them without thinking about what they mean or thinking they mean nothing.
Every day I’m thankful that someone promised to love me despite my un-loveableness. To stay with me even when I’m not particularly nice or fun to be with. To stick with me even when I’m multiple dress sizes bigger than our wedding day and with a lot more grey hair and wrinkles.
But also I’m glad that I promised to love someone the same way. I’m selfish and self-absorbed like most people but I think less than I would be if I didn’t have someone else’s needs and desires to think about daily. I know a lot of single people, and I’m not at all saying that they are somehow less complete for being unmarried. I firmly believe that some are called to marry and some are called to be single.
But not that it doesn’t matter either way. Not that it means nothing.