Why did I choose to get married?
The simple answer is I fell in love with someone who I wanted to be with more than anyone else. I no longer wanted to live a life where she wasn’t an intimate part of it. I felt less than complete without her.
The more complex answer is one that I keep to myself. It’s too personal, sappy and only relevant to me and Sheryl. I was way too young, as was she. We were excited, scared, confused, and a little bit naive. Imagining a time we were married five years seemed impossible to comprehend. Somehow we have made it to almost 21.
I am grateful that Sheryl and I were able to make that commitment.
I don’t think we were much different than the thousands of other couples that meet, fall in love, and want to start their lives together. We had faulty expectations, lived through our own misguided assumptions about each other and what being married was actually like. We’ve grown stronger together than we ever would have apart. We’ve worked hard and been lucky.
The reasons people marry are as varied as the people who decide to share their lives together. I refuse to believe any one of them is a better or worse reason than mine. While it is my experience that all of us want to love and be loved, our motivations, our hopes and desires rarely conform to a set standard.
In my state, the battle continues between those who are seeking to preserve what has been called “traditional marriage” and those who want marriage to include couples of these same gender. Part of the debate has focused on the reasons marriage exists in the first place. Some argue that the entire purpose for marriage is child rearing, and that any conversation about the adults involved is rooted in selfishness.
Strange, I don’t remember that condition being part of what I agreed to when I married Sheryl. I promised to do a great many things. Never did I promise to have children. I understand the perceived assumption, I just don’t agree with it as premise.
Even if I allow that marriage is about raising children, I believe that anyone who loves and cares for children can and should be allowed to raise them. A gay or straight couple can (and already do) equally love and raise healthy, well adjusted, productive children. Equally, they can also (and often do) raise lousy ones. People are good and bad regardless.
That said, I cant agree that culturally, marriage is somehow at its core only about offspring. Marriage is about love and companionship, an agreement between people that transcends a simple romantic relationship. Children can be a vital, amazing element in that agreement, but they are not always the entire focus, nor are they necessary. Love should be based in selflessness, whether it be directed at a spouse or a child. Degrading the level of commitment of same sex couples, as well as the assumption that their relationships must somehow be selfishly childless is as cowardly as it is inaccurate.
I can say with certainty that while raising my boys has become very important to me, having children didn’t enter into my original motivation for marrying. We didn’t have children for 14 years. Our reasons are our own and I won’t share them, but there was a time when I was reasonably sure I never wanted to have any. I don’t think our marriage was invalid because of its lack of offspring. It certainly is not more important now that we have children. Certainly it is different, but at the core, it is what it always has been-our marriage, our relationship. Our affections for each other are as important as those towards our children. We protect our boys, teach them, love them, but our personal relationship transcends parenthood. It is the way I like it. That personal relationship is the basis of our love. It is why we married, why we stay married.