I have been thinking a great deal lately about what it means to be married. This is only natural, as I will be getting hitched in about a year. The concept of marriage constantly changes and evolves and varies between cultures. And vehement conservatives continue to protest same-sex marriage and tout the “sanctity” of the institution. I feel it is important for me to come to an understanding of the role that marriage will play in my life.
What does it mean to be a wife? For me, it is about genuinely sharing myself and my life with my future husband. I also believe that being a wife means I am making a commitment to be the best version of myself that I possibly can. That is not to say that, once I’m married, I will hide my faults or try to live up to external standards. Quite the opposite, in fact. One of the reasons I am marrying my fiancé is that I know he loves and accepts me as I am. However, I feel I owe it to both of us to continue to grow and to try to live as authentically as possible.
In the past, of course, husbands and wives largely had predetermined roles. But that has largely changed. As a wife, I fully intend to retain every ounce of my independence – and I know my fiancé would have it no other way. The fact that women have won greater equality and respect is, I feel, very beneficial for the institution of marriage. In previous decades, it seems as if marriage was largely about playing house – assuming roles and building a home life according to arbitrary social mores. But these days, marriage is largely an institution between two equals – at least in many parts of the world.
Which leads me to same-sex marriage. The definition of marriage has changed dramatically over time. Brides used to come complete with a dowry. But now, marriage is increasingly seen as an institution entered into by two adults whose sole motivation is their devotion to one another. It is not about money or status, or forging alliances between groups or royal families. It is not about reinforcing gender roles – or at least not to the extent that it used to be. It is about love and respect between, in my opinion, any two consenting adults. Marriage is an institution that strengthens and affirms bonds. It creates a structure that deeply connects the two individuals involved and fosters love and support.
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