What Does Marriage Mean To You?

I’ve spent a large portion of time these past few days reading and re-reading through the many applications we received to join our 2015 team of Lovettes (we announced our new Lovettes yesterday and Tuesday). As I did so, it struck me how varied, and diverse our readers are – that is, from all walks of life, with all kinds of life experience, and, it seems, lots of different views and perspectives of what marriage means.

It was really important to my team and I, that our Lovettes were able to express a personal understanding of marriage and what it means to them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about the dress, the decor, the big countdown and all those fun and exciting aspects of planning a wedding and I’m super excited about reading about all these details in our Lovettes blog posts.  But if blogging for five and a half years and indeed being married for almost six, has taught me anything, it is that marriage is the reason we do all and any of this crazy wedding planning in the first place.  And that we’d all do well to stop and consider what marriage means to us on more than just the one occasion when we happen to be planning a wedding.

what does marriage mean to you

There is a reason we commit to love and support one another through thick and thin, in the good times and the bad, in sickness and in health; life happens after your wedding, and it will be good and bad and everything in between.  It will be exciting and fun and rewarding and exhilarating.  It will also be painful and challenging and disappointing and depressing and there might, there just might even be days you feel like throwing the towel in all together on  your marriage, particularly during those times when life has dealt you a bad card or your coping mechanisms have taken a battering.

What I have learned is that marriage is like a super-strength glue, that binds and holds together all the pages and chapters in the book of life.   It represents a sense of foundation and strength and unity. It means that even if you have left that book unattended outside and a storm passes, causing the pages to flap about furiously in the wind, and causing the various chapters (self, family, friends, career, parenthood, health etc) to each jostle for your attention at the same time, that there is always going to be something strong doing it’s best to hold it all together.  The spine on the book of life, that is lined with that super strength glue and that holds all those page and chapters together, is, to me, like marriage.

That, to me, is a little what marriage represents, but as to what it means? Well, for me personally, my marriage means strength when I feel weak, it means love and knowing that someone is there to support me when I feel overworked and exhausted. It means knowing that someone has got my back. Everytime.  It means learning to be kinder, more humble and giving – less selfish, more selfless, and preparing to sacrifice for the sake of the one your love.  It gives me a reason to try to always be the best wife, companion, mother and friend I could ever be.  Marriage gives my life purpose, and focus.

One of the questions we asked in our application to become a Lovette was, What does marriage mean to you?  I thought it would be a nice idea to share some of our applicant’s responses with you today, so to encourage you to consider and explore what marriages means to you – and of course, to your partner too. Below, are some of those responses that really stood out to me…

Emily Plummer

‘Having had the promise broken once before I don’t intend to let lighting strike twice. Martin truly is the man I was meant to wait my whole life to meet. Sometimes as Marilyn would say, some things have to fall apart so that better things can fall together. This is certainly true for me. He amazes me everyday and I know we have a unique and impenetrable bond. So marriage really means forever, never forgetting that a wedding is one day of the rest of your journey in life, and I am so incredibly honoured to have him by my side.’

Jo-Anna Liza Dodson

‘To me marriage means that although the love you have for your partner does not become anymore, it is the warm comfort blanket that can keep you safe every night and day when you are apart. It means no more niggly fears or doubts. The invisible tie that binds you together forever. To the rest of the world you are now a unit. And if night should ever fall, it is the internal knowing that your love and commitment for one another was enough.’

Lucy Blackmore

‘My parents split up with I was young, and I always vowed that I would never get married. Then I met Christian and fell in love! Although getting married wont physically change anything (we already own our home together), I still feel strongly that marriage will bond us together, from being a couple, to being family. Growing up I had the instability of a split family, and whilst some might look at what Christian and I have as boring, I love it! I feel loved, happy and secure.’

Emily + Jo-Anna + Lucy copy

Ciara Anjali Sarkar

‘Marriage means an awful lot to me. I was never one of those girls who had dreamt of her wedding as a little girl, and being unlucky in love for many years, I never thought I would ever meet someone who would want to marry me. I’m incredibly independent, to my detriment perhaps. And I lived alone for many years in my mid-twenties. But having someone alongside me these past few years has made me feel incredibly lucky. It’s made me feel more stable and confident, because I’m with someone who helps to build me up, not put me down.

I truly believe in the institution of marriage. In all honesty, I would have said our vows in secret, because I think it’s a really personal thing, but my family would probably have something to say about that. I can’t wait to take Ross’s name, although I’ll be sad to lose Sarkar (with Indian heritage it’s got a lot of cultural values behind it). We’re a team, and I can’t wait to cement that with our vows. I think all-too often people just want a big party and forget about their wedding vows. It’s the bit I’m most nervous about, as I get a bit anxious in situations like that, but also the part of the day I’m most excited about. I get to tell him and all our friends and family that I’m ready to be his wife, and to do all I can to support him and care for him. We both come from families where our parents have separated, so we were determined to ensure that we’d covered a lot of foundation before we embarked on getting married … it’s not something either of us take lightly!’

Catherine Dwyer-Harvey

‘I am a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to marriage and both mine and Craig’s parent’s have been married for over 20 years. To me, it means an everlasting love, growing old with one another and experiencing life together, through good and bad.’

Caroline Ayello-Wright

‘Forever and ever. Officially a team. Supporting, encouraging, and loving unconditionally.’

Ciara + Catherine + Caroline copy

Jolan Selina Woolridge

‘I had the most happily married parents, so marriage has a lot to live up to. When I met Chris he didn’t seem that into marriage, but that’s not to say that he wasn’t fully committed to our relationship & future together. When he proposed I was surprised but I know that marriage is something either of us are entering into lightly. It’ll be amazing to have our experiences as a married couple… Who knows what marriage will bring?  One thing I do know is that it won’t all be plain sailing  (I’ve heard about the post wedding come down for a start!) but that’s a big part of what marriage is about. You weather the storms together as well as the calm seas. And because you have set sail together in the same boat (Chris was in the navy-excuse the puns!) you have to navigate your course together and hopefully follow the same stars. It’s a crew adventure. Not a solo trip.’

Rebekah Holliday

‘My parents had a terrible marriage and prior to meeting Matthew I was adamant that I would never get married because I only ever associated it with hurt. Marriage to me, means finally meeting that person who makes me a believer. Matthew makes me want to be married and for me that is something wholly new. I never planned my wedding as a little girl or put my mothers veil on and clopped about the house in her heels. For me to meet someone I trust with the preservation of my happiness and to whom I want to share my life with is the most wonderfully dumbfounding thing in the world. When I asked Matthew this question he said marriage is wanting to care for another for the rest of his life.. Someone to look after and face the world with. I think I fell more in love with him in that moment.’

Leanne Pek Lian Yew

‘For us, it is the knowing that at the end of each day, no matter how great, hard or horrible its been, if we’ve had a disagreement (we are both extremely stubborn) or if we’ve been apart due to whatever circumstances – there’s still no one else we would rather be with, come home too & envision the rest of our lives with.’

Jolan + Rebekah + Leanne copy

Sarah Barton

‘Honestly, I struggled with this question when our reverend asked us, and then I panicked because I felt like I should’ve been able to reel off some fantastic poem about undying love etc, but really, it just felt right and a natural progression of our relationship to ultimately sign ourselves to the other. I can’t believe how lucky we both are to have found mutual love, and an absolute best friend.’

Andrea Wenzel

‘Marriage is a bond between two people that no one else understands. A partnership that gets each other through life when you need each other the most and share the most amazing experiences with.’

Kate Quince

‘Marriage, to me, means choosing your team-mate, committing to them and working together for the rest of your lives. Easy, right? Marriage is exciting because life can be tough – and having someone to lean on and support you (and to support them when they need it) is what makes the juice worth the squeeze.

Rob and I are very lucky to have really supportive parents on both sides, who have also been great role models for marriage. We also each have one sibling, both of whom got married (to different people!) in the last two years so we’re also starting our ‘marriage’ journeys at similar times.’

Sarah + Andrea + Kate copy

Jen Parkhouse

‘Both of our parents have been happily married since 1978. I want our future children to have the same upbringing that I did as part of a family unit, and I don’t want to be the only non-Sharkey at the dinner table. Living together we already share all the household bills and have been committed to one another for more than 10 years. I can’t see how our relationship could become stronger but I can be a bit of an old romantic and think that sharing the same surname would be another string that ties us together.’

Maghen Lynn Pitner

‘Marriage is listening to the other person. It’s about wanting to learn and grow with each other. It’s respect and passion. It’s compromising “your side” for you sweetie’s comfort at night. Marriage is motivation to be your best selves together as one. Together you are one single beautiful entity sharing the same values, exploring creativity, and building your lives’.

Rebecca Jayne Robinson

‘Marriage to me means my grandparents. My grandparents until recently have been together for 60 years. My nan has a picture of them in crates as babies and then next to it she has a picture of them as an old couple with curly grey hair, which is my favourite thing in the world. They have been through utter heart ache and pure joy, but they have stuck together the entire time, hand in hand, heart to heart. My nan says the secret to a happy marriage is to say ‘yes dear’ as often as you can. If you can stick with someone through thick and thin, I really think the love grows stronger and tougher than anything you can expect. Me and Chris have been through a lot and I love him more today, writing this right now, than I ever have.’

Jen + Maghen + Rebekah copy

Hannah Frost

‘I asked my boy what he thought about this one he said: ‘Marriage is a partnership that promises support, strength, care and affection, which ultimately means you will do everything and anything you can to ensure that person is happy, looked-after and safe. You look forward to coming home every evening, as you know within your home there is love and a reason for why you continue to take a step on this planet every day. When you look someone in the eye and you witness a sparkle that triggers a thought in your brain that is accompanied by a warm glowing feeling in your heart every second that you share together, you know you want to spend the rest of your life with that person.’ – I don’t know how to add to that really, bless him?!’

Kate Kellaway-Moore

‘I recently heard a story and it made me really think about what marriage means. It is not necessarily a story that might jump to your mind because it was actually about a couple splitting up (at least in the first instance). The story was about a couple who had spent many years in an unhappy marriage. The wife eventually decided to leave but found, when she did, she didn’t have the happiness she thought she would. One day she sat on a plane and saw an older couple talking. She thought to herself “”how lovely that that older couple are still so happy when they have been together so many years.

When she listened a little closer it became clear they weren’t an old married couple, they were actually an older couple who were dating. It was at this moment she realised she wanted her husband back – she wanted to be with someone who knew exactly who she was and had that history together. To cut quite a long story short (the husband had also been on his own journey of realisation), they ended up reunited and found the true happiness together that they had been searching for! Seems a strange story to tell, but it really made me think of what marriage means. I want to grow old with Tim and him with me. To build a life together, to give support, help us achieve our dreams and ambitions, see the world together, make a family, be there during the harder times and the good times – doing that together ’till death do us part’.’

Hannah + Kate copy

Leanne Buttle

‘Marriage is the single most important decision we will ever make. It’s committing to forever be that persons biggest fan, to put them before yourself and commit to doing that throughout the good, the mundane, the hard and the terrifying. For us as Christians it means making those vows in front of God who we believe is constantly teaching and reminding us how to love better. We can’t wait to do life together!’

Natasha Wood

‘I’ve never really had a role model of a married couple as I’ve been growing up, my mum is a single parent and my grandma is divorced, so that probably explains why my idea of marriage is based on my great grandparents. I believe that marriage is for life, and I think it’s a shame that some people these days don’t take it as seriously as they used to. Although my great grandparents died when I was young I knew that they had been together for their entire lives, they were best friends, and that is what I aspire to.’

Jaclyn Craig

‘As excited as I am about the wedding, it’s being married to each other that we are most excited about. Even talking about being a wife now, is giving me butterflies and making me giddy. Although we will have been together six years by the time we get married, it feels as if a whole new chapter of our lives is just beginning, and that is all kinds of crazy wonderful to imagine. I have to admit that when I was younger I wasn’t overly fussed about the act of marriage, I didn’t think that it was necessary in order to commit to someone. But as soon as I met Stu it all made sense, and the thought of marrying him made marriage have a completely different and much more important meaning. For me it means solidifying the love and affection we have for each other, making it even more monumental and rock steady than it already is, it means bringing together our two crazy families and making them one, it means being able to laugh and cry with my favourite person for the rest of my life and know that no matter what, I’ll always have him by my side.’

Leanne + Natasha + Jaclyn copy

Claire Hepburn

‘Marriage means family, committing to another person and bringing two families closer. I lost my Dad a couple of years ago, which totally changed my perspective on family and love. I had never felt so lost and in need of support which for me, a fiercely independent person, was hard to comprehend. When I found out about my Dad’s passing, I was miles away from home at a hen weekend and all I wanted was to be with Ben – and at that moment I had an overwhelming desire for him to be my husband.

To me it is a lifelong promise that you will care for the other person and always treat them with love and respect, even when it gets tough. It’s someone to have fun with, a partner in crime, someone you can grow old with and share as much happiness as possible, whilst knowing if the fun stops they will still be there to help solve the problems. Having been in a relationship with Ben for eight years, it feels like a new episode in our lives together, a new chapter to enjoy – I can’t wait!”

Priya Gandhi

‘It’s the ultimate commitment. My parents have been married for 42 years and Steve and I truly admire this. We’re both a bit old before our time and love the idea that falling out is just not an option. If something is broke, you find a way to fix it and with that you become stronger. We haven’t gone a day without speaking to each other in our 4.5 years together and we don’t want to. In a time when everything is so disposable, marriage is a chance for us to promise to be joined together (quite literally with some of the Hindu wedding rituals) for life and, by doing it three different ways – civil, Hindu and symbolic, we will be covering all ground so should be as solid as a rock!’

Claire + Priya copy

I hope that after reading through this feature, you’re feeling inspired 🙂

So, readers, what does marriage mean to you?  

Leave your thoughts in the comments box below – I am so looking forward to hearing from you.

Love Annabel x

Annabel

Annabel View all Annabel's articles

Annabel is the founder of Love My Dress. She has a passion for photography, walking, yoga, nature, and loves to support talented artists and creative businesses. In 2013, she became a published author. Annabel lives in rural North Yorkshire with her husband and business partner Philip, their two daughters Eska and Leanora and menagerie of furry hounds. Annabel supports Philip in the running of the family flower farm at at Moonwind Flowers. She is also co-founder of What About Weddings.

8 thoughts on “What Does Marriage Mean To You?

  1. If I’m honest, I struggle with this one. I’m getting married boy in June, and I’m hoping to pin down my thoughts on this before then.

    My parents have been together, un-married, for 30 years now.I grew up in a loving, happy, wonderful family environment. This means that I don’t hold a belief that marriage transforms anything – my parents have shown just how strong a relationship can be without the title.

    However, after adamantly “not seeing the point” in marriage for most of my life (how would I, I simply didn’t have a frame of reference for it?)I found myself wanting to get married. I know that I love my other half very much, that he loves me, and that we support and better each other. I want to get married to make that declaration publicly and to make it known the bond we have – but at the same time it is the relationship that is the most important element.

    I don’t know if that makes any sense?

    1. This is how I feel too. I don’t think a piece of legal paper changes anything – certainly not for us, and we’d be happy together forever even if there was no such thing as marriage. But it will be nice to make a public declaration and of course any excuse for a party and bunting…! Neither of us will be changing our names, nothing will change between us and we’ve lived together for many years.

      1. But there will be some legal changes that are important- being each others next of kin for example. For me knowing that god forbid something terrible happens we would have rights is an important part of getting married. I know it sounds morbid and unromantic but I think that’s the additionally that marriage has over other committed relationships (its probably unjust that that is the case but that’s another story). It isn’t my sole reason for getting married (otherwise we’d just go quietly to a registry office!) and making a commitment in front of friends and family is important to us, but you can’t ignore that marriage is a legal partnership and the status and rights that brings are why people have fought (and are still fighting) for marriage equality.

  2. for me Rebekah has it spot on. Coming from the same circumstances marriage was never in my life agenda. Kids were always going to be the commitment for me. So after our first was born I was surprised to find myself saying “if we can get through that we can get through anything” I ran out of reasons NOT to get married. For me it was putting the number on the door after 9 years building something great together, becoming super heroes, and holding hands and jumping together. We already have the ingredients for a great relationship and I had very vivid image of us being old sitting in armchairs still laughing. I was surprised how I felt after we said our vows. I really felt like we would be invincible and as an added bonus I would share the same name as our children making us a proper family. Having divorced parents and coming from an abusive relationship I am a realist when it comes to relationships. There are no fairy tales. My husband may be as tidy as a teenager, unable to cook and be pants at DIY and my do we bicker but I’ve seen the other side and I’ll stick to this one thanks.

  3. I’ve been thinking about this lately…a lot! At the ripe old age of 30 I will entering into my second marriage May 8th this year and I must say I’m a little panicky! I’ve gone through all sorts of emotions the past few weeks from being scared to excited to tearful then back to excited and I’ve been questioning why I’m getting married again and If it’s really the right thing, Is it truly that important in a relationship?…As a woman left with my own thoughts I agonise and question things and then when I’m with my fiancé Huw all of these worries and questions dissolve and there is only ever one undeniable factor that matters – I am completely and utterly crazy in love with man, we argue like cat and dog and I always refer to a quote in the notebook by Nicholas sparks that defines us ‘ They didnt agree on much, in fact they rarely agreed on anything.They fought all the time and they challenged each other every day but in spite of their differences they had one thing in common, they were crazy about each other’ and it doesn’t need to be justified, love doesn’t need any justification, I think some people have scoffed a little because I’m doing it again, some people have even commented that I’ve ‘done it before’ so I shouldn’t be having a big wedding with trimmings! I think marriage is an outward sign of the inward investment and commitment you have to spending the rest of your days with someone, It is Love x

    1. Hi Sarah
      I married for the second time last August and also had a little panic beforehand – ‘why am I doing this again?’ ‘What if it goes wrong again?’ etc. So I think it’s all perfectly normal. I also had a big day and felt a bit embarrassed because I’d already done it once before and had a few quips and comments. Luckily someone said to me, your feelings and commitment to this marriage are no less than those you felt for your first so there is no reason why your wedding day should be second best or hide in the shadows to your first. I wish you both much love and happiness on 8th May and beyond! xx

  4. If you’d asked me when we first got engaged, I might have given you a very different answer, but we got married 3 weeks ago, and the 8 months prior the wedding were probably the worst of my life. My dad was diagnosed as terminally ill in August, and passed away on Boxing Day, just 4 and a half weeks before our wedding. For every step of that awful journey, while I waited for the cancer to finally claim my dad, and could barely bring myself to think of our wedding, my now husband was right there beside me. However horrible to him I was, however angry, however sad, however unable to cope – he held my hand, made me gin and tonic, laughed when I laughed, and cried when I cried, didn’t ask anything of me when I had nothing left to give, and stood beside me every step of the way. I could never have got through it without him, and I know that if he can love me at my worst, I am truly blessed to have him. So to me, marriage is just that: having someone who know exactly who you really are, but still loves you anyway.

  5. I have really loved reading everyone’s thoughts on marriage. Although onto my second marriage I really think there is something special about being married. It is no guarantee for a successful and long future together but it does tie you together every day in an invisible way. With both of us having failed marriages behind us you would have thought that neither of us would be eager to marry again, we could have just lived together, but there was never any question about it. I wanted to be a wife and I wanted him to be my husband and we wanted to whole world to know!

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