Do or don’t

Molly Cahill

The commitment of marriage is a joining of two lives and can be both a beautiful and frightening thing. For the two people vowing in front of friends and family to “love, honor and obey” the person standing across from them, it is a new beginning in a relationship. Even for couples who have been together for years and undertake this step simply as might-as-well, or to make filing taxes easier, they are entering a new stage in their lives. It can be a dramatic change or simply a legal one, but for many in our society, being married comes with the knowledge that “for better or for worse” you and this other person are now inextricably linked.

With all of the reports of infidelity and divorce in the news, even the most romantic of us can’t help but wonder if it’s worth it. If public figures like Tiger Woods and former President Bill Clinton cannot “keep it in their pants,” so to speak, why should the rest of us have to? Granted those two, like many celebrities, are probably faced with different circumstances or opportunities for indiscretion than the rest of us. But a good number of Americans seem to take their cues from our public figures.

I’m not sure if this is a good or a bad thing. But what I do know is that the high divorce rate makes me wonder how much thought couples put into the long term. Do people these days still enter into the married state planning on one day celebrating their 60th anniversary together? Or are they just going along for the ride until a faster, more exciting option comes along?

I have no problem with divorce and do honestly believe that if you are truly unhappy in your marriage you might be better off ending it. But I am also a hopeful romantic. I like to think that for every Britney Spears-esque Vegas wedding and annulment, there are 10 more married couples out there like my friends Janine and Jeff.

Part of the problem comes from the way marriage is portrayed in popular culture. The basic plot of your generic romance is this: boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy and girl get married and then the movie ends.

Growing up seeing this formula repeated and reinforced leaves people with a basic idea of how their lives are supposed to play out, up to a point. But life is not like the movies. It is messy, beautiful, but messy. Boy might fall in love with boy or girl with girl, and the person you thought was your soul mate might turn out to be a cheating bastard. But at the end of the day, the relationship and how you participate in it is part of the experience of life.

The point is, marriage is the start of a relationship and a lasting one takes work. It isn’t about how much the wedding cost or how many people attended. It won’t hold based on always getting along and never arguing.

The mortar of a marriage, or any relationship, is the shared experiences. People are said to squabble like an old married couple, this shouldn’t be taken as an insult. At the end of the day, old married couples know how not only to argue, but also how to forgive and forget.

Molly Cahill is a senior pre-journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater.

Contact her at [email protected].