Why Marriage? (And Other Considerations for a Self-Gratifying Life)


"Why marriage?" That was the question I posed to myself during a car ride around the block. I'd thought a lot about marriage recently. Am I prepared for it? How challenging will it be? How will I be proposed to? What will my ring look like? But all these loaded questions came with a follow-up that I never once before considered.

Why marriage?! It screamed at me that time.

Outside of the conditioning of society that tells us marriage is the right thing to do, why have I gotten so high strung about it? I've decided recently that I may not even want to give birth—and Lord knows I don't need to address how controversial that is.

A woman...not wanting to give birth? That's absurd! —Society.

If I didn't want to have a child, then why marriage?

I never answered that question. Or any of the others. I simply let them marinate; echoing internally for the following 24 hours.

Marriage takes work. I grew up in a house of married parents where both love and anger filled the space. Arguments penetrated the walls of our 4-bedroom home. It greeted me every Saturday morning like an alarm I didn't set. I watched my parents, in the latter part of their 32 years of marriage, fuss and fight like none other. They raised their two children together (mom, more than anything), and had gone through plenty of ups and downs—many of which are just being brought to light. So with such an even dose of love and toxicity, why do I want marriage? Why do any of us want it?

With the question not ceasing, I asked those around me. They shared their opinions. "Because it's a true testament of love." "Because it's forever." "Because it's my vow unto God." And while each one of them could be countered with an alternative or another question that would dispute the idea that marriage is the only way to confirm these feelings, I didn't. Because the important piece of it all, is that these people wanted marriage for their own reasons. They wanted marriage for religious reasons, for personal reasons, and some for business reasons. One bold man, a friend of mine actually, even admitted to not being enticed by marriage. I loved all of it. All of the opinions. All of the conversation. All of the people sticking to what they believe.

Marriage is a promise. It's (perhaps) stability. It's (maybe) security. And, it's legal (if that means anything to anyone). But, why marriage? Why anything we do?

We uphold this legacy of doing, of living, according to the standards set before us. Standards created by our parents who raised us, our friends who love us, and a society that doesn’t even care about us. Standards that were passed down through generations during times we never lived through with motives we may never understand. But where, in any of this, do we exercise our own standards? Where and when, do we assert our own desires?

The deeper purpose of my question was to incite serious self-reflection. To force you to think about the many other things that you do that are not of yourself but of those around you. The habits you create and the behaviors you adopt that are mere imitations of what you see. Of what you're told. Of the counsel you're given.

How much of your pursuit—of life, love, and happiness—is stolen from an ideology you don't even understand? How much of it is someone else's dream? Someone else's standard?

Frankly, I'm sick of being rushed to have a child, as if my 27-year-old life should be filled with diaper changes and running noses. Rushed to get married as if solitude and singleness are taboo. Or to be ashamed that I don't yet have a ring on my finger, as if that's the only goal I should be working toward at my age. I'm sick of being asked what's taking so long, as if forever has a time limit, and beginning forever has a deadline.

I'm learning now, more than ever, the importance of doing me. Becoming me. Seeking whatever makes me happy, without needing validation or acceptance. There's an unequivocal importance of becoming, again, who I am, without fear of others thoughts. Without worrying about how my light impacts someone else's insecurities. Without questioning how my genuineness makes me look, or how my vulnerability and authenticity makes them feel. Without focusing on how living on my own terms (and God's
always God's) makes them uncomfortable.

In this life, the only one you get, you must do what makes you happy—what brings you joy—whether it's marriage or not.

I merely hope that when it comes down to it, you learn to do the same. To live the life you desire, despite the lives being shoved down your throat. Despite the perceptions of perfection that society wants you to feed into. Despite your parents, or friends, or colleagues making you feel bad about choosing the road less traveled.

I hope, constantly, that you as women—as queens—make decisions based on your God-given purpose and personal desires, rather than societal norms and expectations. And that you, at one point or another, stop seeking validation for your life from outside sources, but instead seek that validation from within. Because it is then, and only then, that self truly escapes, and that life according to your standards truly begins.

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