For much of my adult life, I was apprehensive towards marriage.

I suppose family and environment contributed. My parents are divorced, as were most parents of the other kids I knew growing up. Some were messy, some were violent, and some were cordial. All, however, were expensive and trying and heartbreaking for the families involved.

Then you have the statistics. When I was younger, it was almost half of all marriages that ended in divorce. It eventually became more than half. And if you get married a second or third time, the chances of it ending in divorce increases even more.

While I understood the meaning, sentiment, and importance it carries to so many people due to their own religious or cultural beliefs, it seemed like a risk that may not be worth taking. Aside from the financial benefits, why would you commit yourself to another person through a ceremony and official legal title? I mean, aren’t love, words, and intent enough?

Not for my friends Mark and Naomi.

I met Naomi a couple years back when I stumbled upon her “Simpler Living” blog. I was intrigued by the concept of decluttering, since for much of my life the metaphorical mess in my life had regularly transcended to the real world. Also, I like free things, so when I saw she was giving away a copy of Cormac McCarthy’s The Crossing I jumped at the opportunity.

We got the opportunity to meet because of the book, and I also ended up taking some CDs off her hands as well. We bonded over our mutual tastes in music and fascination with people keeping chickens in Troy. Then I met her fiancee, Mark, and he and I bonded over our love of music and sang a stirring rendition of Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” True story. We were magic together.

Thus began a friendship with two of the sweetest, kindest, most laid-back and open-minded people I’ve ever met.

Last weekend I had the honor of being invited to, and attending, their wedding. True to form, it wasn’t a tacky, overbearing ceremony. They didn’t have all of the extravagance that weighs down so many weddings and gives you an insight into the bride and/or groom (I’m just saying, she ain’t messing with my “broke-broke” as they say on the radio cut of that Kanye West song).

Instead, it was simple and elegant and concise and heartfelt. It took place an hour away in an idyllic country setting on a gorgeous Fall day that felt more like Spring; cliche but appropriate for the a new beginning and journey for the prospective bride and groom.

Inside, with the presence of family and some close friends, we waited for the ceremony to begin. Mark came out first with a smile that never left his face that day or evening. Naomi arrived, looking elegant and elated, and they began the ceremony. They read their own vows; both of which were heartfelt, organic and nearly tear-inducing even for a cynical crank like myself.

When it was done, I paused and almost said out loud “wait, it’s over?” This was my first non-Catholic wedding, you see, and so I’m not accustomed to things not dragging out for two hours and everything being sung at me. It was a refreshing change of pace.

At the reception we chatted until the bride and groom arrived. They shared the first dance to Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon.” Again, I nearly cried. Simply a wonderful moment, and my favorite song from one of my favorite albums.

Then I got it. It isn’t about cultural morays or expectations, or legal obligations, or titles or sharing of names. It was about this moment, two people sharing a love of so many things. It is appropriate for these two to be married and share their commitment with all around them. After all, I’m trying to come up with two better people that I know than those two, and I’m honestly unable to come up with anything. Those two deserve each other, and I’m not sure that anybody else would be deserving of the love, care, and lifetime commitment that either of them can offer.

Photo by Lori Van Buren -

As for myself? I’m not sure how I feel about this marriage thing, and I’m still not quite sure I get it. But I’m sure glad Mark and Naomi do. And it’s my hope that I, as well as those of you reading this, are granted the opportunity to experience that level of love and happiness.


16 Responses to Why Marry?

  1. Will King says:

    Getting married so someone I love and care for so much was the happiest moment of my life, second only to the birth of my son.

  2. Jen says:

    If I’m not mistaken, I can take solace in the idea that I’m not the only older twenty-something who gets a little queasy thinking about marriage.

    Thank you for the well-wishings (even if they’re not personal). I’ll wish the same level of love & happiness to you as well :)

  3. Sabra says:

    Kevin, as always love the post. In the midst of planning my wedding right now. Bill and I are finally taking the plunge in November 2011. I only hope that the moments Bill and I share together will be as sweet as the ones you described.

  4. JG says:

    I too, have reservations regarding marriage.

    I’m young, and I don’t pretend to understand the opposite sex, or even the entire notion of love. I’d wager I’m too selfish at this point in my life to really give that to someone else anyway. However, the dominoes are starting to fall around me, and as I become more and more abnormal due to my unattached status, I don’t feel like I’m abnormal.

    A few of my friends see marriage as a milestone, something on the laundry list of life that must be done before you get to die. That, or they feel the pressure increasing as they inch towards 30, and still haven’t met the one. They settle, because the idea of being alone is the motivating factor in their union. I imagine this is the same for alot of people, they just may not want to admit it.

    I’m 27, not in a rush, and I’ve met one person that I know I would be happy with the rest of my life. Things didn’t work out. Until I meet the next one, marriage? Thanks, but no thanks!

  5. Reverend Alan Rudnick says:

    Aside from religious reasons, marriage (when understood properly) is the fullest expression a man and woman can share together. Marriage is work. The most fruitful marriages exhibit selfless love that is offered to each other. We are a society that does not like long term commitment, yet we need it.

    I believe the problem is not marriage, but the lack of guidance before and during marriage. When you have a legal problem you call a lawyer. When you have a plumbing problem you call a plumber. When you have a marriage problem you listen to… Oprah? Our society does not go to counselors because it is seen as a weakness or failure. So, we turn to less than helpful sources. When the kitchen sink is clogged do we give up? No. When our lines of communication are clogged we need help. Often, couples do not realize this until its too late.

  6. Em says:

    Hey Rev – my parents went to marriage counseling for years before ultimately getting a divorce. Didn’t stop my dad from cheating on my mother throughout the entire ordeal.
    I don’t know a single divorced couple who *didn’t* go to counseling. It’s not about the people who can help you with your relationship and your willingness to listen to advice… but rather the couple’s determination to fight against human nature to develop a monogamy that transcends common sense and biology.

  7. momto1 says:

    Awwww, I love this post! Naomi writes an interesting blog, and she comes across as someone I would enjoy knowing personally.

    Don’t let the experiences of other scare you away from marriage, Kevin. Would you avoid getting a college degree because of the number of students who drop out? Would you avoid saving for your future because the average American has more credit card debt than savings?

  8. Hopeful says:

    Kevin, this post is probably the nicest thing you could give them as a wedding gift!

  9. Tony Barbaro says:

    Kevin, my guess is you’ll “get” the whole marriage thing when you meet the right person. Up until then it’s all a theory, when you meet the person you want to marry, you find yourself saying..”oh, I get it.”

  10. al says:

    Reverend– well said! DH and I had pre-marital counseling through our church. it was helpful on some points, especially since we met with our Deacon who had been married for 40+ years (He also presided over our Catholic ceremony).
    To be honest, we would have benefited from more in-depth, non-spiritual counseling.
    Why not make it harder to get married? I know it’s a fundamental right and all, but a few hoops might be helpful in the long run.

  11. B.J. Hart says:

    Just passed the 36 year mark yesterday…so I guess it (marrige) worked well for me and my bride…but isn’t it great that everyone now has choices! Great article Kevin.

  12. Albany Mom says:

    Agree with Rev Rudnick and al. I’ve been married for over 20 years and was married at an age that I would tell any of my kids was too young. It’s worked out well for me, but that’s been luck as much as anything. I think there isn’t enough counseling for folks BEFORE they get married and during the early years of marriage. Often, by the time a couple goes to counseling they have moved to a very bad place that is quite difficult to get out of.

    Most people, especially young ones, don’t really understand what they are getting into. Talking seriously to long-married couples can help. When they talk honestly about their hard times and miscommunications, it can help younger couples realize that this too can be overcome. The happiest, most loving couple in the world have had problems. They’ve just learned healthy ways to deal with them, which, in the end, makes the couple even stronger.

  13. Ash Williams says:

    I wouldn’t want to be looking down the barrel of 50-years-old without someone around who cares if I get up every morning.

    In the end, all you’ve got is your family.

  14. Teri Conroy says:

    I appreciate the comments as much as the post, Kevin. You’re young…and you’ll know when (I don’t want to say ‘if’) the time comes.
    Like the Reverend said, marriage is work. Or can be. Husband and I just celebrated 18 years. I think the fact that we were both independent and older (me 30, he 35) when we married was a very good thing. We respected each other’s independence then, and we continue to respect it now. We have similar interests and different ones. And THANK GOODNESS he is not the kind of husband who tags along when I shop – because I HATE shopping! (I always feel badly for the miserable looking guys sitting outside of dressing rooms waiting for their wives.)
    Naomi and Mark have set a beautiful and quiet example of a great relationship and a mature beginning (hope that sounds like I mean it to sound).
    I wish them every happiness.

  15. #13 Ash Williams is one very smart guy.

  16. Gman says:

    I went through a divorce that was as cordial as such things can be. Still extraordinarily painful, and probably more so because she was the one who wanted out. But in retrospect, getting married to her was a bad move.

    But I did not sour on the idea of love, and two years after my first wife and I split up, one of my best friends and I fell deeply in love. We were just as “married” from Day One, 3000 miles apart, as we were the day we took our vows three years later.

    And, in many ways, the legalization of the relationship was as much to streamline all the vagaries associated with children, and survivorship and healthcare decisions…but it was just right, and we both knew it early on. How you and your love frame the relationship will be of secondary importance, but if the bond is as deep as you’d like it to be, that framework will be accepted by both of you equally and joyfully.

    How do you know when you find that person? You’ll know when you save her the last shrimp, every time.

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