Starter marriages

So many people seem to have starter marriages, the same way that people will get starter homes. When you have a starter home, you have it with the idea that when things change, you accumulate too much stuff, or when you have a child, you’ll get a bigger home. It’s what you can handle and afford at the time but you understand that you could always sell it and get another one.

People have marriages in the same way these days. When they get to be too big or too much they get divorced and move on.

What about the marriage vows? What about the idea on ‘till death do us part’? What about ‘for richer or for poorer’? What about ‘in sickness and in health’? Maybe people can’t handle the “poorer and sickness” parts, and were hoping they’d luck out and get the “richer and healthy” part. It is a package deal, and a crapshoot. You get both, in unequal proportions.

These vows – which are made in front of friends and family and sometimes a minister – don’t seem to mean anything anymore. These are legally binding vows. There’s a document that is signed for the state as well. This is a legal contract.

Perhaps what people mean is that they say “I’ll stick with you as long as things are good. I’ll stick with you as long as you suit my purposes. I’ll stick with you as long as I like you.”

Marriages aren’t about convenience or comfort. Marriages are about committing for the long haul. The other person may drive you completely up the wall but that doesn’t mean that you get to get divorced. The bliss that you have at the beginning of your marriage doesn’t last long. What do you do after that fades?

I’m not quite sure about people who get divorces. Now if you’re on the receiving end of a divorce that’s different. If your spouse initiates it and will not reconcile you don’t have much of a choice. But if you initiate then what do your vows really mean? How can you be trusted to say you’ll do anything? If you can’t honor your wedding vow, then why can you be trusted at work? Why trust you with a home loan? What does your word mean?

Marriage is kind of like buying a present with someone and you’re drawn to the pretty wrapping paper. But once you open the box and start looking inside, you realize that it’s a machine that has a bunch of pieces. They are all jumbled loose in the box, and there’s no instruction manual. You have to figure out how to put it together along with the other person. You both are pulling out pieces and you’re wondering how they go together to make this machine work, this machine called marriage. Since you both come from different backgrounds you both have different ideas about what parts go where and what parts are more important than other ones. But you still both have to work on this thing to make it go. You can’t just throw it away once it gets difficult. You can’t just keep looking at the pretty wrapping paper and wondering why it doesn’t match this difficult thing that is on the inside.

Marriage license

I would like to be able to marry people. I don’t mean I want to become a polygamist. I want to perform wedding ceremonies. In fact, I want to be able to perform all sorts of life ceremonies for people.

The problem is that I’m not a minister of any church in any official fashion. Sure, we are all ministers, but apparently that is just lip service. As far as the law is concerned, being a member of the Body of Christ isn’t good enough – you actually have to be ordained to marry people.

Now, I want to perform life ceremonies for people who don’t go to church. There are plenty of people who need ceremonies who aren’t members of church. The church has turned off and turned away people. The church has become irrelevant to many people’s lives. It has become hypocritical and hyper judgmental. People don’t feel welcome in church.

But they still need ceremonies.

We humans need ceremonies. We need to mark transitions from Then to Now. We need to indicate that something is different. Ceremony and ritual is part of what makes us human. We need closure. We use ceremonies to mark time and growth.

Ceremonies and rituals are like doors. We walk through them, and then we are different. It isn’t the door that makes us different, it is the act of walking, intentionally, through that door. It keeps us mindful and aware.

I simply don’t understand why the person performing the ceremony has to be credentialed. It isn’t like she or he is doing something complicated. A few words, said meaningfully, is all. There is no magic trick. There is no surgery, actually binding people together. It seems that it would make more sense to look at the intent of the people getting married more than the person doing the ceremony. Look how many divorces take place all the time these days, and they were married by credentialed people. So that isn’t working. It isn’t the people performing the ceremony that makes the difference.

Now, you don’t have to be a minister to perform a marriage ceremony. You can be a judge, or a captain of a ship for instance. There are plenty of non-religious people who can marry two people together – but I don’t fit any of those categories.

I wonder if there would be simply something to just going to the county clerk’s office to register (yes, you have to register) to be able to marry people. I don’t think there is any proof that you have to provide to be able to do this. I don’t plan on taking money for it – but I do want it to be legal. There are certain mail-order ministries that aren’t accepted as valid proofs of being a minister.

But again, we are all ministers. I would think that the simple fact that I want to be able to do this, to help out my friends who want to get married or have other ceremonies but don’t go to church, would count. That is a ministry.

I tutor ESL kindergartners. That is a ministry too. But I didn’t get tested or have to be certified. Sure, there was a criminal background check, but nobody asked for proof that I actually had a degree in English or had tutored before. That seems far more relevant.

But two people who want to get married? That is all them. They are doing the hard stuff. The words said on the wedding day don’t make you married. It is everything you do after that.