Went to a wedding today. The daughter of friends was marrying her long-time love. They have two kids already and have been living together for a few years now, so I really didn't see the point, but I suppose they thought it was the thing to do. I didn't know her or her beloved, only her Dad and step-mom, but we were invited, so we went. The groom's mother seemed to be running the show, which I thought was kinda strange, since it's usually the bride and her family that say whats what, but anyway...
It was an outdoor affair, right on the Savannah River. A truly beautiful setting and the sky was such a vivid blue, no clouds. The temperature was not too warm and there was a nice breeze. A pretty scene, all in all. The service was very traditional. The kind I hadn't heard since I was a little girl. The kind where the groom vows to love and protect, cherish and provide for her and the bride vows to honor and obey him, come and go at his bidding and promises that his people shall be her people, etc., etc. I couldn't believe that any woman in her right mind would still put up with that honor and obey crap. Never having had a formal wedding, either time I got married, I never had to do all that stuff. I do's were sufficient and there wasn't any talk about obeying, I can assure you. The first time I got married, it was by a lady I knew who was the county clerk in Orange County, FL and she knew better. The second time I got married was by a Justice of the Peace in Arlington, TX and he was very eloquent, but never mentioned anything about obeying. I guess he could tell by the look on my face that he better not try that with me.
After the wedding and reception when we were driving back home, Pete had a real good laugh describing the look on my face when I heard that part of the ceremony. I thought I had done a real good job of keeping my face neutral and not letting my distaste show, but I guess I didn't. Good thing we were sitting in the back.
Later, at the wedding supper we sat with the bride's sister, her sister's husband and her step-sister. I mentioned that I had not heard such a traditional wedding service in a very long time. The brides step-sister agreed with me that it was strange to hear something like that this day and age. Pete teased me and said something about wanting to stand up and cheer when he heard it and that that was the kind of ceremony he wished we had had. I laughed and told him that I might obey him by choice, but that I would never have vowed to obey him blindly. The sister and her husband, who are both much younger than me, looked so scandalized. I swear, I thought these Southern Belles had progressed farther than that. Bet she vowed to obey him, as well.
I just find it so distasteful, so degrading. So the man is sworn to protect, support, and love his little wifey, and she's sworn to do whatever he tells her to do, to forsake her family for his, to care for him when he's sick, to honor him, yadda yadda yadda. But I didn't hear anything about him vowing to honor her, to care for her, to obey her. That's a crock and anyone with a brain knows it. And I don't go for this, "well it's just tradition" crap, either. If you make a vow before God (whatever you call your higher power) then it's more than just 'tradition'. I don't care to perjure myself before my God. I feel like, if you're going to make that kind of commitment, that kind of promise, you ought to be sincere about it. And if you aren't sincere about it, if you don't take it seriously, then you shouldn't do it at all.
Anyway... I think that is the root of some of mine and Pete's problems. He's really very open minded for a man of his generation. But it aggravates him sometimes that I'm not a traditional wife. Yes, I stay home and I don't have a 'real' job, but that is by my choice, not because it's what he wants. And I do try to do things that please him, not because I feel like I have to but because I like to. I married him because I wanted to, not because society or my family pressured me to. He doesn't like it, but I've had to remind him a time or two that when we got married that piece of paper we signed was a marriage license, not a bill of sale.
So, the day just got me to thinking; didn't that young girl realize how oppressive, how degrading, how sexist those vows are? How could she think so little of herself so as to speak them? And why get married anyway? They've been together for so long. Their little boy is 4 and the little girl is less than a year. I suppose they did it for them, or maybe for the financial benefits, or maybe his mother finally talked him into it (she seemed a formidable older woman). I felt such a desire to speak out and warn the girl. Men change. It doesn't matter that he's a wonderful person now, it doesn't matter that he takes his turn at changing diapers and chasing kids now. After you marry him, he will change. And you probably won't like it. But of course, I kept my mouth shut. I would have liked to give her the benefit of an older woman's experience, but maybe hers won't be the same as mine. Maybe her prince charming will stay charming. Maybe he really will love and cherish, support and protect her. I hope so.
Although I love my hubby very much, and although I would be with him even if we weren't married, I think, if I had it to do over again I would not marry him. Perhaps if I wasn't married to him he would understand that I am with him because I choose to be, not because I'm forced to be.
All in all, I think marriage is the perfect way to ruin a really good relationship.