Anonymous commenter "A" shared the story of her marriage in the comment section of "Till Death Do Us Part" and gave me permission to post it on the main page. I think it's beautiful, and an excellent illustration of what marriage should be.
My husband and I got married about a year ago. I was 30 at the time, he was 28. We had dated for a few years before that as well. We wanted to get married because we believed that something more than a private claim of a commitment was necessary for us to deepen our commitments, our intimacy, and our conviction that we were/are a team. I could not explain why I felt this was necessary, but we each felt it. At the same time, I was around many colleagues who were coupled but not married, and they constantly asked me if I really believed in marriage being forever, since I couldn't even tell you what career I'd want in 5 years. While engaged, I questioned if I really believed I could live up to a lifelong commitment, and wondered if in fact I wouldn't want to leave if I felt the relationship was unfulfilling.
I have to say that getting married has been the most profound experience I have ever had. I've had pain, death, love, hardship, terror, etc. in my life, but none of those things has changed me the way my marriage has. I knew enough to understand that my marriage would work not due to love, but due to the choice to make this love into something more than just emotion. But never did I expect the joy I've received in return. It is through my marriage that I've seen just how loving I want to be. It is through my marriage that I have realize how much I wish to be a good and righteous person--and see a path toward that.
I've met many people who said that getting married changed nothing for them -- "it was just a piece of paper". I weep for them. Truly. I weep because they are somehow missing out on the profound value of their own life and worth that comes to them when they admit that this purposely-chosen connection and commitment is grander than anything they foresaw, and yet they not only bear that burden, but thrive inside of it. I do not believe their marriages will last, either. Perhaps I'm wrong, but if nothing changed for you when you got married, I imagine that the pains of marriage will outweigh the joys.
I can see every day why people choose the "we'll stay married until one of us is happier elsewhere." Partially, it is because they don't want to make a sacrifice. Partially, they fear that any restriction breeds contempt. Partially, they see permanence as a means of taking someone for granted, or of being taken for granted. Yes, those things would be miserable. But I don't think that agreeing to stay with someone for the rest of our lives means that I get to take them for granted. I do still have to earn their respect and affection. It is because I intend to stay that every day, I again act to earn those things. And every single day, I choose not to do those things that would undermine it. Every day I see the decay those thoughts and feelings would bring. Every day, I reaffirm what I've found. If I was not willing to overcome those feelings and thoughts, I would not have this shining warmth and light inside me. If I had just stopped my vows at that point, I would never have found this wealth inside myself and the world. I would never have known how beautiful the world can be.