I read this article on modern marriage and love, feeling like I had been on a journey with Jessica Bennet in just a few short paragraphs.
She explains that she rejected a marriage proposal from her boyfriend, not seeing the need for it. She said yes, then 20 minutes later, said she wasn't ready. She was in her mid-20s and terrified of what marriage would mean, "dirty dishes and suburbia".
However she stayed with her boyfriend.
As a reporter she even did a piece entitled "The Case Against Marriage":
Our argument took romance out of the equation. As we explained it, Americans were already waiting longer to marry, and fewer than ever believed in the “sanctity” of marriage. As urban working women in our 20s, we no longer needed marriage to survive — at least not financially. We weren’t religious, so we didn’t believe that unmarried cohabitation or even child-rearing was an issue.
But we were also cynical. As children of the divorce generation, we had watched cheating scandals proliferate in the news. We had given up on fairy tales, and we didn’t know how anybody could see the institution of marriage as anything but a farce. It was “broken,” one sociologist told me. So, what was the point?
“Happily ever after,” we proclaimed proudly, “doesn’t have to include ‘I do.’
Years later, while seeing reports of the gay marraiges in New York, she suddenly starting wondering about what her wedding would have been like. She asked her boyfriend and he still said he'd marry her, but the conversation never really developed. However he did say: "he was worried he would always love me more than I loved him."
On New Year's Eve, at 11.30pm, he told Bennet that he'd never forgiven her for saying no and that their relationship was over:
"We had no shared bank account or property. We didn’t have to go through a trial separation or mandatory counseling. We had spent seven years living in a 600-square-foot New York City apartment, inseparable and intertwined. Yet in the end, the relationship ended in one night. No discussion required."
Bennet concludes her reflection with this: "What I have learned is this: While “happily ever after” may indeed be a farce, there’s something to be said for uttering “I do.”"
Indeed marriage can be seen as a loss of freedom, but as a fundamental process in the Christian Church, perhaps they haven't gotten it so wrong? Perhaps there is more to the immediate appeal of marriage. The sacrament and legal ceremony do provide a means for ensuring couples 'work at it' and don't just walk away, "no discussion required".
The article is well worth reading in full, here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/24/fashion/missing-the-love-boat-the-case-for-marriage-modern-love.html?pagewanted=1&_r=3&src=recg