“I do.” Three letters, two short words. What do they mean? The decision to marry by two people who love each other is a larger than life decision, one that has the potential to outlive a mortgage. Celebrating a 25th wedding anniversary is not the same as making the final payment on a 25-year mortgage.
“I do” is an eloquent phrase that deserves pondering over. We should search the depths of our soul to grasp what lies at the core of marriage. What is it that draws two people together, ready to face the potential storm, knowing they’re going to survive because of the bond that binds them? The institution of marriage is a puzzling piece of drama, where the individuals who enter it have the choice and will to either make it weak and crumble, or to make it steadfast and strong.
What Does it All Mean?
That poetic statement really means this: it’s all or nothing. Love is unconditional, and when it brings two people together, it completes both of them. When love is srong, it equates to “all”, when the flames fade away and eventually give way to embers, it equates to “nothing.” It is the nothing that hurts most.
I do means you’re willing to take your spouse to your most private world so that it can be enriched and made brighter with two lights instead of one.
I do means playing blind to your spouse’s imperfections – be they physical or psychological – because imperfections remind us that the gifts from above are not perfect. They come to us as raw materials and it is up to us to refine and polish them.
I do means the willingness to bring other human beings into this world, to give them a home and to tend to their needs, giving them the love and affection they need to develop as solid citizens.
I do means arguing constructively and engaging in diplomatic fighting. That is no contradiction here. Fighting is a healthy exercise, the process leads us to more knowledge and to a more enhanced realization of the situation. But fighting has to be carried out diplomatically. It takes a massive dose of willingness and openness to master diplomacy.
I do means sharing the other spouse’s frustrations and celebrating successes, confident in the belief that were it not for the other, their personal joys and success would be impossible.
I do means exciting plans and projects for the future: a second home, a community endeavor to raise funds, fulfilling hobbies, travel to distant lands and taking on roles to expand horizons.
I do means building a strong faculty. Not of the senses, but of a continuing education type where both spouses can learn from each other’s mistakes, all the more wiser because they can laugh at these mistakes and turn them into golden once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.
Finally, I do means “I can.” I can make my spouse happy, I can ignore the pettiness of marriage, I can open up my feelings knowing I won’t be judged, and I can share what I have. Will you be able to rekindle the spark? Yes, I can! Will you be able to offer the olive branch in spite of a horrendous quarrel? Yes, I can. Will you be able to weather adversity with an extraordinary amount of calmness so you can think of solutions intelligently and not emotionally? Yes, of course, I can.
Saying I Do: Commitment of the Best Kind
When we sign a real estate contract, we’re demonstrating our commitment to fulfill the terms and conditions of a sale or purchase. The consequences of not honoring our contract commitment lead to a notice of default or notice of foreclosure.
When we agree to take care of our sister’s graduation party, we’re demonstrating our commitment to do our share in renewing family ties and to play our role as loving sister. It shows that we’re delighted to be a part of this academic achievement, a milestone of a sibling who probably put in a lot of work to graduate so she can make family members proud.
But when we decide to get married and then recite our marriage vows in front of witnesses and guests, we’re showing the scope of our commitment that will last a lifetime. It’s the best kind of commitment because it shows our unselfishness. Giving of ourselves to another person is a frightening prospect, and at times we will feel caged in and question whether we made the commitment too hastily.
Committing to a another person through the sacrament of matrimony is a profound gesture, and it will change your life forever. No longer will you be travelling on the same familiar road; you will be crossing paths less travelled, making you wonder if your life is taking the direction you had intended it to take in the first place.
A commitment made in marriage is a commitment that is signed and sealed in heaven, and your guardian angels will monitor your assets and liabilities column from time to time to make sure you’re delivering the goods as promised. Someone will be watching. If you take care of your spouse the way you said you would, that someone will take care of the rest and help you along the way. You won’t feel ever alone or that you’re swimming in uncertainty when the realities of marriage creep in.
Pros and Cons
A friend once said to us in the gym, “no one should ever be alone in life.” We looked at her and said, “don’t you think that’s a personal choice that shouldn’t be subject to anyone’s philosophizing”? She agreed that aloneness or the single life is an entirely personal decision and does not reflect a lack or absence of the typical ingredients of what life is made of, or that we’re lesser human beings.
The longer we talked about the subject, we more we realized that one can be married and still feel alone. It is a fact that some couples actually are lonely souls. One writer said that “we all lead lives of quiet desperation” and she did not refer to anyone in particular. But marriage is not like purchasing a gift certificate for 30 days or 30 years of happiness.
Saying I do has its share of pros and cons.
These pros and cons are tailored to the concept of whether or not we are the marrying types or the “bachelor forever” types. We can come up with the pros, but it all depends on which side of the fence we’re in.
If you’re the marrying type and crave a lifetime of companionship, the pros of marriage are:
- Emotional stability
- Marital security
- Mutual sharing of likes and dislikes
- Growth, education, self-improvement
- The chance to rear children so that they may continue the family heritage
- Moral and psychological support
Now, the cons…
- A growing sense of a lack of freedom
- An increasing distate for responsibilities
- A nagging feeling that one’s hopes and dreams have been shattered by marriage
- Ever-increasing pressures of family and home life (mortgage, career, finances, etc) that erode love
- Losing one’s individuality
- Feelings of deprivation
It’s a wonderful feeling to fall in love, it’s like a power surge that lasts a long time, energizing you to reach for new heights. But just because you love another person does not mean you have to marry that person. There’s a cluster of individuals out there who feel like running away when given the chance because they feel “trapped” in marriage. It’s like the case of the business executive who travels constantly away from home because it represents a much-needed break from family life. They’d much rather hop on a plane (even if someone else in the company can travel) than hop into the burning fires of marital or family problems and tackle them straight away.