For better or worse, it’s been soon. “Soon” has become my reflexive response to a question that she and I find ourselves fielding more often recently: “O, kelan na ang kasal?” We’ve been together for almost seven years now — I believe the technical term is “college sweethearts” — so I understand why our friends and family have started to wonder out loud and to our faces. And while we aren’t yet engaged as of this writing, I can say with enough certainty to publish in nationally-distributed newsprint that we will one day be married. One day soon.
But the truth is we don’t really need to get married. We’re capable of remaining in love, rearing children, and becoming productive members of society together, all without having to tie the knot. Because when you distill it and set aside all the matters of religious belief, marriage is really just a ring, a last name, and a bunch of papers. It’s the institutionalization of love, and it can cost a lot of money — not to mention the pressures of its irreversibility (especially here in the Philippines, the last remaining country in the world where divorce is illegal). So it’s not difficult to see why our generation is dubious about marriage.
Yet still, I do intend to pop the question, plan the big day, watch her walk down the aisle, try not to cry, and sit through the reception, in that order.
To be clear, it’s a matter of preference, and not of right or wrong. There’s certainly something romantic about believing that love can prevail without the institution of marriage. But that doesn’t necessarily mean marriage doesn’t have its merits, either
Marriage serves social functions by certifying, declaring, facilitating, and resolving a relationship. It’s a tangible and universal expression of the finality of a personal commitment, and of a direction in life w being able to share these with others can be profoundly liberating. There’s comfort in seeking the acknowledgment of your relationship in a sociocultural context, as opposed to insulating it. Also, marriage is primarily a celebration of love, and who wouldn’t want to celebrate love if it is, indeed, love?
Sure, love can exist in a vacuum. The point is that it doesn’t have to. For she and I, it’s less a matter of “Why?” than it is “Why the hell not?” Monetary costs notwithstanding, I don’t imagine that marriage can do anything to get in the way of a truly loving relationship that life can’t eventually deal out anyway. But in exchange, we get to profess our love in public, in a way that is universally recognized, with a celebration among our friends and family. And while your relationship is no less true and loving if you and your significant other don’t want that, I must say that I do.
If your parents got married at the same age as you are now, chances are their Sunday lunch parinig of having a grandchild has been happening more frequently. Multiply those instances by five if you’re the only childbearing member of the family. I don’t know how to gently break it to them that I don’t see myself walking down the aisle anytime soon — or maybe at all.
One can argue that I, a single girl in (almost) her mid-20s, am bitter about love given the aforementioned factors. And that, in effect, will make me disregard the idea of tying the knot altogether. While that’s partly true, I’m also a believer in love, and the fact that it should thrive under all circumstances, married or not.
Yes, I get it. Marriage is an important civil and social symbol. It’s a celebration of your love — gowns, flowers, cakes, and all — in front of your family and friends. You take a ton of photos just to show to the world that, hey, we’re doing something right in this lifetime. There are certain benefits like lower taxes, cheaper rent (because you’re sharing the bill with another person), and less judgmental stares from your titas. While all of this is appealing to some, I only see marriage as an add-on or a power-up to an already awesome relationship, and not a necessity. It’s like the cherry on top of a really good chocolate sundae; not having that cherry won’t make it any less good.
I’m not saying that marriage is bad, because it isn’t. It’s just that we shouldn’t be pressured by anyone among our friends or at our family reunions to commit ourselves to a single person until the end of time. That’s unfair considering that the only commitment we need to make is to ourselves, and our own happiness. And if the idea of grand gestures or hundreds of thousands worth of debt just for a day of celebration doesn’t appeal to you, then that’s fine.
Marriage shouldn’t be a defining factor or a requirement in any relationship. It’s just a bonus.