Marriage means a lot. I could write a book about what marriage means legally - in fact, people have. Or what it means spiritually.
So supposedly, you boil this all down to a single meaning when you make vows. I love watching other bloggers come up with their own vows, or make the choice to simply say, "I do". (Anyone who watched the sobbing meltdown mess when I made my toast at my sister's wedding should understand if I choose to go with, "I do.")
But Mrs. Cheese wrote this as she was explaining her vows and I found myself agreeing.
"I want to feel the awesomeness of the moment as I pledge my life, my future, my love to one single person until I die. In that moment, I want to feel the losses as well as the gains. I want to be aware that I am choosing to never have another first kiss, to sleep with only one man, to be loyal and faithful to one person. I want to knowingly and willingly give up everything I could have for everything I do have. And then, I want to feel the joy of gaining someone else’s loyalty until he dies. I want to want to laugh and run and skip with happiness (happiness I’ve only ever felt with this man). I want to giggle because life’s just so good. And I want to feel the beginning of a new family, of a new life together, of being acknowledged and accepted and ready to move forward as a couple. Not too young, not too fake. Honest."
The two sentences here that stuck out to me were these - "In that moment, I want to feel the losses as well as the gains" and "I want to knowingly and willingly give up everything I could have for everything I do have."
The first one sticks out to me because it is a phrase we use frequently in law school - the loss as well as the gain, or as the lawyer in me says, "the benefits and burdens." Everything has a balance - everything has some gain and some loss, some benefit and some burden, some joy and some heartache. And I think that a wedding day is an important day to understand that you are choosing (and fortunate) to undertake the benefits and burdens of this institution. It is why the traditional vows say "for richer and for poorer" and "in sickness and in health."
The second phrase, I love, because I am young. I am 23. I will be 25 when we get married. I am fully aware that I could leave law school, join the peace corps, travel the world, write a book, and then find love and settle down. I could spend 10 years in a BigLaw firm, working 90 hour weeks and making more money than I will ever need, and then eventually retire to Tahiti (which I will purchase.) I could date more men, see what I am missing. I could date women, see what I'm missing. I could move to Africa and help AIDS victims. I could take a job clerking in Upper Marlboro and build myself a giant house on the Chesapeake bay. There are a lot of doors out there in life that are open to me - and to choose to get married is to "knowingly and willingly give up everything I could have for everything I do have." Yes, there are things I could have - but I am choosing to forego those options, because I am comfortably certain that what I do have is worth more than any of that.