Early Writings of Evan Bailyn

Understanding Marriage

Posted by on Thursday, January 19th, 2012 with 0 comments

Coming from a divorced family, I do not have the privilege of being able to take marriage for granted. The expectation many children have of getting married in their twenties, starting a life with their spouse, and growing old together is not as firmly implanted in my mind. Rather, it is a romantic possibility – something I hope to attain. But I also have many questions about it.

When I was younger, and my dad used to talk about marrying again, I would ask him “Why is it so important to get married? Wouldn’t living together be the same thing?”

“People want to get married,” he would say. “It’s a security thing.”

“But if you promise them you’ll always love them, why do they still need marriage to feel secure?”

Today, I often wonder the same thing. Why aren’t promises strong enough to overcome the inevitable obstacles of sharing a life? Does signing a contract and legalizing your union actually make your marriage more durable?

I believe that the feeling of security my dad was talking about should be rooted in both partners’ personal commitments to each other. Signing a document is simply a formality. After all, if you don’t truly mean “Till death do us part” when you tell it to your partner, then you certainly aren’t going to mean it when you tell it to the State.

People should get married when they have found someone they would like to share their life with, and when they are emotionally ready to make that commitment. For some people, the time for marriage is in their twenties, others their forties, and others never. It takes a lot of sacrifice and soul-searching to prepare yourself for the level of compromise that comes with entering into a relationship. Only those who have learned to share, to empathize, and to deeply respect another person’s way of being are ready to make that all-important promise.

Nowadays people get married for the same reason they go to college, apply to prestigious jobs, and act like adults – in order to abide by social conventions. The thoughtlessness of these customs, which are the product of the media, nagging mothers, and religious figures, pushes many mentally unprepared couples toward matrimony when they haven’t had to time to internalize its seriousness.

Although I don’t know what marriage feels like, I imagine that it can be a beautiful lifelong event if both partners are fortified with a dual dose of maturity and idealism. The maturity will be needed to understand your partner’s point of view in times of conflict, when giving up seems like an easy solution. The idealism will be needed every day, when the real world is embittering itself with war, politics, gossip, 50% divorce rates and other forms of negativity, while you are skipping work so you and your partner can make hot cocoa and snuggle on the couch.

But the most fundamental part of marriage is its promise. An oath of marriage means commitment through thick and thin – through career change, children, mid-life instability, senescence, and any other conflict throughout. One person’s promise can only be as strong as the other’s, for if love and support ceases on one end, it surely will crumble on the other. So the personal contract you make when you’re getting married matters a lot more than the one you sign and send to city hall: it means not giving up. If your word is stronger than steel and so is your partner’s, then your “I do’s” will really mean something – and so will your marriage.

Evan Bailyn is a serial entrepreneur, search engine and social media expert, celebrated author and child advocate. His company, First Page Sage, is a leader in search engine optimization and social media marketing - vastly increasing business for its clients through high SEO rankings, targeted Facebook advertising and viral videos. Evan is also the founder of the Evan Bailyn Foundation, a foundation dedicated to teaching emotional awareness to children and adults. 

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