Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Mawage: Putting the "Itchin" In "Tradition"

Via Sullivan, we have an argument for more traditional marriages.

Ha! Okay, I guess that was a sorta kinda an in-joke for anyone who knows that Sully is a very outspoken proponent of what Republicans call "non-traditional" marriages. Like that? Eh? Anyone? Bueller?

Moving on....

I disagree entirely that marriages would benefit from being standardized and, frankly, I think the writer Sullivan quotes misses the point entirely. The trappings of a marriage ceremony don't much matter; the vows are what place the two individuals in the greater stream of human life on this Earth--the pledge to fidelity, to respect, to support.

In his own photo-negative, misanthropic way, David Mamet has a nice anecdote about this:
"I was once at a marriage ceremony where the parties swore to 'try to be faithful, to try to be considerate....' The marriage was, of course, doomed. Any worthwhile goal is difficult to accomplish. To say of it 'I'll try' is to excuse oneself in advance. Those who respond to our requests with 'I'll try' intend to deny us, and call on us to join in the hypocrisy--as if there were some merit in intending anything other than accomplishment."
This is the standard I held to when Erin and I wrote our vows: "I take you...," "I promise to...," etc. And I think as long as these fundamental words are spoken, as long as this contract between two people is simply and unequivocally stated, then it doesn't matter whether the surrounding shenanigans happen inside or outside, at an altar or on top of a Ferris wheel.

After all, each wedding is a celebration of a unique couple joining in a universal institution, a confluence of the singular and the eternal. It seems to me that a personalized ceremony (reflecting the uniqueness of the couple) using thorough, unambiguous vows (thereby acknowledging the eternal) is just the right way to recognize such monumental themes...

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