It’s almost a marriage season at work these days. The team is composed of mainly young folks who came out of college some time back. Most of them are going through the transition of becoming a married couple. As I see this, I cannot help but reflect on my own experiences with marriage and other marriages that I happened to closely observe.
Marriage starts with a vow. In fact, the act of marrying boils down to taking one or more vows. Of course, there is partying and merry making. There are drinks and dance. There are friends, relatives & gifts. But if the marriage (as an act) was to be distilled down to bare minimum, it would come down to taking vows.
Friends & relatives may be there. You may have got gifts. Everybody may have drank and danced. But if vows were not taken, it’s not a marriage still. On the other hand, it could be just you, your (to be) spouse and a witness. You take the vows and it’s done.
That’s how important the vows are in the context of marriage.
But for all of us poor folks who ignorantly (and hence blissfully) walk into marriage, the vows are just an unnecessary detail. Like a movie rating certificate on the screen before the movie starts. I don’t know how many people actually even heard the vows they were committing themselves to. And if they heard, how many tried to understand the implications of the same. For example, here is one that’s used in a christian wedding:
I, __, take you, __, to be my (husband/wife). I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.
It’s just two lines but it’s a very serious business we are getting into. People respond with “I do”, except that they (mostly) don’t. Not because they don’t intend to, but rather because they don’t even understand what it means.
I have found that people with happy married life marry twice. First time is an instantaneous affair of committing by saying “I do” or something equivalent. Second time is a “gradual process” of learning to live that commitment on a day to day basis. In other words, first you say “I do”, then you realize that you actually don’t and then you learn to do :)