Justin Thompson: I do
CBC News Online | August 30, 2004
On a muggy August evening, I came home from work to the basement apartment I shared with my girlfriend and asked her to be my wife. "Will you marry me?"
It was a question that had been lobbed countless times before in countless languages by countless suitors around the world. But this wasn't just another marriage proposal to be swallowed up by time - it was mine. I didn't have a ring and I didn't have a plan. But I knew I wanted her to be my wife and I hoped she agreed (she did).
Over the next couple of weeks we broke the news to our families, friends, colleagues and generally anyone with a pulse. It was a whirlwind of elation, excitement and, well, exasperation.
Everybody offered congratulations - "way to go," said some; "atta-be" shouted others.
But as our news became old, some probing questions rolled in. "How do you know when it's time?" asked one co-worker (a pretty deep question to answer on your way to the washroom). I squinted a little, gave a quick smile and shrugged. "You just do." With a year of marriage under my belt, and all of the wisdom I suppose it should bring, that's still my final answer.
I know many unwed people my age - my wife and I are in our late 20s - who have been in serious relationships far longer than us. And even after "co-habitating" (as a former boss of mine so eloquently described it) for many years, they remain shockingly unmarried. Not that I care - if they're happy that's good enough for me. But I bet their parents have been grinding their teeth for years, waiting for that happy phone call to get them one step closer to grandma- and grandpa-hood.
It was kind of ironic, then, that I was the first among my circle of friends to take the big plunge. It was no small feat either - I'm not of the Jennifer Lopez or Elizabeth Taylor mindset where a spouse is acquired like a handbag, to be dumped for another when the new fall collection arrives. Nope, I'm a one-woman man who is settling in for a long, loving life with my wife, to be punctuated by anniversaries, vacations, more children (you hear that, mom and dad?), birthdays, graduations and eventually our own grandchildren.
So why get married? Can't all of these wonderful experiences be had without tying the knot? Isn't that why God created common-law? Sure. Let's face it, a solid relationship shouldn't need the State's rubber stamp to validate the bond of love. It's already there, existing somewhere between thought and feeling.
To me, though, marriage is one of the ultimate ways to say "I love you." It says, "I love you so much I want to spend the rest of my life with you and here's the ring to prove it." It says, "I love you so much, I want to dress up real nice-like and throw a party to celebrate our love with 100 of our closest family and friends." It says, "I love you so much, I'm willing to get on my hands and knees and pull a garter off your upper thigh. In front of your grandmother. With my teeth."
June Chua writes columns for CBC.ca and she's a former colleague of mine. She's not too big on marriage. In her August 7, 2003 column entitled "Who needs marriage?" (http://www.cbc.ca/news/viewpoint/vp_chua/20030807.html) she traces the institution to bygone days when men listed wives as property, alongside the house and the cattle. Returning to the present she writes, "marriage is not about partnership; it is about ownership. Marriage has no place at this point in human history because men don't 'own' their wives anymore."
Like everyone else in Canada, June is entitled to her own opinion. I do think that she may have been just a little over-zealous in making her point, though. I mean after all, Nissan used to be Datsun, but that's no reason to call their cars boxy rust-buckets (at least I won't - my Sentra is a pretty sweet ride for an econo-box).
The point is, things evolve. Societal values and expectations have progressed to the point where my wife actually owns me. Honestly. She schedules our time, tells me what to wear (or rather, what not to wear) and she makes sure I tell the doctor about that skin rash I've been ignoring for, I don't know, maybe five years. And I wouldn't have it any other way. My wife completes me. She truly is my better half. Things I lack - like patience, tact and table manners - she has in spades.
More importantly, we share at least one quality, one emotion in endless supply (tissue alert!): undying love and devotion for one another. That's what bonds us together. Marriage has been a beautiful way of expressing it. In the grand scheme of things, I think marriage is the cherry on top of life, not a chain to bind it.
Marriage and Divorce|
Top Characteristics People Want in a Partner
Top Reasons Why People Marry
1. Marriage signifies commitment
2. Moral values
3. Children should have married parents
4. The natural thing to do
5. Financial security
Top Reasons Why Couples Divorce
1. Different values and interests
2. Physical and emotional abuse
3. Alcohol and drugs
5. Career-related conflict
SOURCE: Vanier Institute of the Family