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.
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…
‘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.’
‘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.’
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 â€¦ it’s not something either of us take lightly!’
‘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.’
‘Forever and ever. Officially a team. Supporting, encouraging, and loving unconditionally.’
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.’
‘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.’
‘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.’
‘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.’
‘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.’
‘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.’
‘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?!’
‘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’.’
‘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!’
‘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.’
‘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.’
‘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. Itâ€™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!”
‘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!’
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