As I was sitting on the patio of a favorite downtown deli, my friend across the table from me said that someone she knows recently announced an engagement. My contempt for the current social conception of marriage came right out with no attempt at politeness.
"Why can't people just acknowledge weddings for what they are?" I scoffed. "It's not about a commitment--no one who gets married stays together for life anymore. It's a celebration of love in the moment."
I say this as someone who seen many friends marry and divorce, with anywhere from two to twenty years in between. I have also thought I wanted to spend the rest of my life with all the serious partners I've had. And part of me still does. In a natural setting, the cultural context humans are evolved to be in, we would be around our lovers our whole lives, regardless of whether or not we marry them, because we'd all be in the same tribe, working together for our physical well-being on a daily basis.
However, in these modern times, as Miki Kashtan would say, the fabric of humanity has been torn. So we lose our lovers in a big way when we lose them. They may move out of state or disconnect completely, because we aren't from the same or even neighboring tribes. The whole reality of modern tribes as I understand them is that they are much more fluid than they were historically (and are still in some parts of the world).
Believing that til death do us part is unrealistic and quite possibly even unattainable (as well as potentially very unhealthy) I turned a while ago to the pagan practice of hand-fasting for a temporary period of time, e.g. a year and a day. I learned not to trust this either. I made a three-year commitment with a long-term partner, and within a few months he was saying he couldn't keep it. Of course, we didn't hold a community ritual, which is problematic in itself, but nevertheless my takeaway from that experience and others is that agreements are only ever intentions, at best. You can't count on them. So making vows to a partner seems like being somehow out of the loop of reality for me at this point.
Circling back to weddings, I am not saying that because I think marriage is essentially dead that we shouldn't celebrate love. Far from it! Let's celebrate it more often. Let's throw a party every time two people (or more) feel affection and appreciation for each other. It's beautiful, and we can always use an excuse to barbecue veggie kabobs and eat Kettle chips. Or maybe raw chocolate fondue if that's more your thing. Either way, I am super up for love parties all the time.
And if lovers happen to still be with each other a year later, or three months, or seven years and two days, or whenever the heck they feel like it, have another party. Each time the celebration will get bigger. I imagine sharing the love, turning from my beloved(s) at the moment to hug everyone, so that we can all bask in a radiant puddle of oxytocin. If weddings were like this, no one would have to feel the shame of a divorce, as if you failed because the connection between you and another person no longer opens a portal to the divine. As if the nature of the universe isn't that of constant change, while your intimate partnerships are supposed to be static.
So how about it? Who wants to invite me to a love party? Do you know who you'd celebrate with?