Love is not a social contract. Love does not conform to social rules. Love does not restrict itself to religious interpretations. Love is personal. Love is a state of being.
Love manifests itself in many mysterious forms. One of the most familiar, conventional forms is that of marriage. Marriage is at once, worshipped, reviled, admired, and ridiculed. Marriage has been socially placed way up on top of a very high pedestal. Young couples place themselves in extreme financial debt in order to ritualize this vintage rite of passage. A rite of passage that is a relatively recent development in the evolution of human society.
It has been taken for granted that all of us are expected to grow up, find a mate of the opposite sex, get married, and have one or more kids. The illusion of a solid, loving, marriage held together with sweet, romantic love is held up for all of us to admire and aspire to. Dusty tomes from long dead writers whisper this ideal. Throughout the ages, songs have been sung in its glorification. Popular media reenforces it and conventional religion vindicates it. At the end of the story, the handsome prince marries the lovely princess and they all live happily ever after. Or do they?
Like the majority of human beings, I’ve given many years of thought and contemplation to love and marriage. As an outsider to legal marriage, I will attempt to pass along a few of my observations about the subject today.
From what I understand, marriage implies communion, companionship, friendship, sexual relationship, and love. There is a lot going on with this state of mind called marriage. It seems that love is the most important ingredient of this partnership. Without love, all one has is a mere formal convention. Without love in the marriage, we find strife instead of communion, estrangement instead of companionship, aloofness instead of friendship, mere sexual release instead of a relationship. There is indifference or even hatred when love is absent.
To enhance love, it has been found that being chaste is important. Being chaste is being pure. Being chaste is not being celebate. Being celebate is a type of behavior that is expected by society or by oneself. Being celebate is merely the desire to become something which has been held up to be noble. Being celebate is not the same thing as being pure. Being celebate is artificial. Being celebate places the individual at the center of importance.
When a person finds his or her mate, the person is no longer the center of the universe. Likewise, the superficial crush falls away to reveal something much deeper and stronger. There is something physical, mental, and metaphysical that defies description by mere language. The state of being is simply instinctive and wise. There is nothing to do about it except to finally surrender to it or become mad.
Social institutions have proliferated the mistaken view that love and marriage can be narrowly defined. Marriage was created as a legal institution that validates property rights and ownership. Initially, love was never an ingredient.
Romantic love came much later in our history. Now, there is a grand controversy about how marriage will be legally defined. Is marriage simply a legal contract between two people of opposite sexes who deeply love one another and want legal recognition of their partnership? Or is marriage a legal contract between two people who deeply love one another and want to live in a sturdy partnership? Is the legal protection supposed to be exclusive or inclusive? Conventional ideas about the foundation of the legal contract are being debated everywhere. The issue is already partially resolved in some areas. It is hotly debated in other places.
Several years ago, I met my own mate. We struggled through the usual adjustments and disagreements. We also enjoyed the positive, constructive ingredients of a marriage that two people very deeply in love cherish and treasure. We were each other’s worlds. We also were prohibited from the important step of claiming the legal status as a married couple.
After his departure, I was not entitled to the same rights that the survivor of a legal marriage may exercise. I was only able to exercise those that were granted by the courtesy and generosity of my mate’s family. They were not legally obligated to present them to me.
The American state, in which I live, prohibits marriage equality. So people like me remain outsiders looking in.
The Blue Jay of Happiness knows that the warmth of a lover’s heart enriches his lover, and in turn, society at large.