Love

Why Marriage Matters

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man putting ring on wife's finger

Five years ago, I lay on the thin mattress in my dorm room sobbing. I was graduating from college in a week and getting married in three months. My wedding invitation company had just gone out of business, leaving me $50 in the hole and stuck with a pile of misprinted response cards.

When I called to straighten out the matter, I was transferred to an answering service. An Indian man, who told me his name was Juan, informed me there was nothing I could do. "You sound stressed out," he said. "You should eat some Won-ton soup and relax." Then, Juan hung up. An Indian man named Juan told me to eat Chinese food...That's when I started crying.

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As I lay there mourning the loss of $50 and wondering if Won-ton soup might not be such a bad idea, after all, I asked myself why was I getting married? With the exception of my cousin, all the women in my family had been married and/or engaged by 19. Most of them had already had children by the time they were 22.

So, in the context of my family, holding out for marriage until I finished college seemed like a radical move. Still, none of my friends were getting married. They were all going to grad school, joining the Peace Corps, or getting hired at exciting jobs. Here I was, fussing over how "poofy" my veil should be and crying over response cards. I felt silly.

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Still, I loved my fiancé and I was committed to our relationship. So, I wiped my eyes, ate some Won-ton soup, and three months later I said "I do" with a giant poofy veil on my head. We've been married for five years and in that short time, the face of marriage in America has changed.

Fewer Americans are choosing to say "I do" and headlines decry the "END OF MARRIAGE." Has marriage completely lost its relevance? I know I may be biased, but I don't think so.

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In the past five years, my husband and I have faced home renovations, which brought us fisticuffs over tile choices. We've dealt with his father's death, my sister's debilitating car accident, and now my parent's divorce.

I would be lying if I said that I've never gone to bed wondering why we were doing this. Why we were spending our twenties fussing over mortgages and paint colors, while our friends were out drinking fancy cocktails and sexting. Or at least that's what it looked like from my perspective.

The truth is, some days it's the commitment that's kept me here. It's the memory of my poofy veil and the mild chafing of my ring that reminds me of the promise I made to love and honor and to not throw knives when he leaves his socks on the floor, again.

That's why I think marriage is still relevant because whatever else it is or will become, marriage is a symbol of a commitment that two people make to one another—to support, love, cherish, and remember, even when you are hiding the cookies out of passive-aggressive revenge, that you are there to stay.

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When I remember my commitment, it takes the edge off my frustrations and fears, because I know that no matter what else happens, this blonde guy who really likes to watch Battlestar Galactica" is with me no matter what.

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Marriage is an adventure that sometimes feels like Mulder and Scully (interesting with a lot of sexual tension) and other times feels like Booth and Bones (campy and the relationship is a little forced), but it's always rewarding.

And instead of holding me back, I feel like my marriage has given me the confidence to try things I never would have had the courage to try otherwise, like writing blogs for a living or digging wells in El Salvador. No matter how relationships in America change, making a commitment to the person you've chosen to spend your life with will always be relevant.

Lyz Lenz's writing has appeared in the Huffington Post, The Washington Post, the Columbia Journalism Review, The New York Times, Pacific Standard, and others. She is a columnist for the Cedar Rapids Gazette.

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