It was a TV comedy series.  The bride-to-be looked lovingly at the groom and whispered: “If it were possible to promise to love you forever, I would.”  They then proceeded to go through a wedding ceremony–-for their parents’ sake.

More and more nowadays in real life marriage is getting little respect.  There are couples who are living together because they love each other, are “committed to each other,” and don’t need the formality of a paper that says they are committed.  There are others who “marry” for the time being because it is unrealistic to expect what they feel now to last forever.  Still others live together but are not committed; they just want to enjoy each other, no strings attached.

“Marriage is on the way out, it is a dying institution.”  “Marriage is an anachronism.”  “Marriage is the tender trap.”  Marriage is a mirage.

Yet people continue to get married.  And, if the tears are any indication, people continue to find marriages very moving.   What is it about marriage that makes it at once so attractive and so off-putting?  So heart-warming and yet so frightening?

When people say that marriage is outmoded they are not, of course, talking about group marriage, trial marriage, open marriage, two-stage marriage, or contract marriage (with an option for renewal.)   They are talking about marriage in the traditional sense–a commitment, a contract, if you will, “to take each other, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.”

After the couple in the television program had gone through the wedding ceremony, were they married under the above definition?  I would say they were not, simply because they did not believe such a marriage was possible and therefore their promises were empty mouthings. Read the rest of this entry »