The Institution of Marriage

I’ve always had this argument about the institution of marriage with a lot of girls, those that I’ve dated and those that I haven’t…and it always comes back to that question, “Why don’t you believe in marriage?” Now, don’t get me wrong…I’ll start with my disclaimer: If the girl wants to get married, I’ll get married. However, I don’t believe that it’s something that you would logically do, unless you were religious or trying to find the cheapest way around the IRS tax laws. But passed those two things, I just don’t understand it. What is proven in having a wedding, signing the legal documents and sharing a last name? Religious people get married because it is a joining under God and a promise of support, love and everlasting hoopla and from a cultural standpoint, a family or the institution of families is very important because of the mantra “alone we fall, together we stand.”

But why marriage? Why do you take the extra step that pigs and lions and even some polygamist cultures don’t take? I think the reason lies with security, safety but most importantly…certainty. As we have evolved from our primitive ancestors, we have learned that there are too many uncertainties in life and to have one consistent “crutch” in our lives is necessary. We have become a weak-minded culture too exposed to the ideas that marriage eliminates that risk of losing our significant other to someone else. It’s not enough to have a clan or a group or a girlfriend, but now there’s a need for a binding agreement to prove it.

To the general public, I might seem like a committo-phobe…but it’s not true. I will probably get married to the “right” girl at the “right” time…but on my terms…You see up until today, my argument stopped above…it ended…finished…I had no further logical justification for why I would possibly succumb to such an illogical institution of the term “safety net”. But this time it hit me…like a de-railed bullet train hit a subdued lake on a slightly overcast Wednesday…there are two parts: desire & responsibility.

You see in the animal kingdom, desire is innate to an animal’s behavior much like humans. And responsibility only occurs in times necessity. In humans, we still have the needs, instincts and behaviors of our mammalian cousins, but we choose responsibility. Man courts woman; Man makes a family with woman; Man leaves woman alone to raise the family. It seems so easy. But somewhere between penguins and humans, we developed the choice of responsibility. This responsibility is much like a child to his parents or to his sibling…filial piety…the fact that this love was never a choice or a desire but a responsibility, a learned love. Animals like penguins figured out responsibility…unintentionally…but it was definitely a necessity to their survival. The penguin males stick with their female spouse and help to take care of the baby because it is a necessity for survival in the antarctic freezer.

In humans, some men desire to be with many women and some just to be with one…and some to be with none at all, but eventually those that choose the role of monogamy, eventually get married in some way, shape or form. Why? It’s a choice to incorporate both desire and responsibility. It’s a choice to align your wants and desires with the responsibility to ensure the life of someone else as if it was your own life because without that person, you would feel lost. It’s a choice to prioritize that person’s goals and desires to the top of your list and to make sure that she is fully supported in her endeavors. Pre-marriage, we seek those that we desire, but we don’t ever need to take responsibility for them. But post-marriage, there is a union of two people.

Now this definitely doesn’t justify the particular actions or steps toward the institution of marriage anymore than any other reason except to say that there is a reason for the need of a progression…another step up…there is a reason for why there is a need for a deeper commitment between a man and his significant other.

I don’t know where I’m going with this yet because in some ways, I think that I won’t know until I’m on my deathbed looking into her eyes and thinking about our whole life together…maybe then I’ll know…but as for now…I can only come up with this final summary:

“When you find someone unique and special that you wish to hold onto and cherish, the institution of marriage unveils a responsibility between you and your loved one to uphold each other’s thoughts and dreams as if you were one entity…to aid in weakness, to protect when scared, to laugh like you’ve never laughed before…it’s the only thing that makes “you” different from everyone else.”

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