This weekend sees my husband and me at a big family wedding. We won’t be beholden to deliver speeches. But if I had the honor to speak at any young people’s wedding, this would be it:
“Today is your big day. One that hopefully stays a single one in your lifetime. Certainly, one that will be memorable for the rest of your lives. It’s not just because you are at the center of things in a big celebration. It’s not because of all the expenses, the decorations, the gifts, the venue, the guests who have arrived. You are making a statement – that of belonging together.
Now, some people will say that they belong together anyhow. “So why get married?! It can’t get better than this, can it? We do already have everything a married couple has. We already do everything a married couple does.” Yes, they have and they do. Growing up in the so-called “Wild 70s” in Germany, I realized that some considered it to be ever so liberated and emancipated to share a home, unmarried. Maybe even with friends who were also unmarried. Considered even more open-minded to interchange partners. They claimed to have it all. But did they?
Marriage is a taboo as well as a door-opener that can’t be estimated high enough.
If one takes the name of the other it states you as a unit to the outer world even more. Don’t be fooled into that you had this before. Society is still very traditional in these contexts. Even though there are agreements that unmarried couples are treated the same way as married ones in some circles, in other more traditional ones, they are definitely not. And certainly not when it comes to institutions.
Marriage is a door-opener. Imagine your employer sends you to a foreign country. They will not consider your unmarried partner in the equation. Nor will the foreign country when it comes to immigration. If married, you have the option of presenting your union, and that gives you a better hand.
For better or worse, in good times and in bad times, in sickness and in health – being married gives you the benefits of being in the know. Of information that is your due. Of decisions that are your due. Of being together when it’s your due.
Marriage is also a taboo. What’s between you is entirely your affair, and nobody has any right to meddle with you. Your decisions are yours only. Your obligations are to each other first. Marriage is the ultimate emancipation as a union from any other bonds. In other words – even though you legally bind yourselves, you are also setting yourselves free.
Why marry at all?! To marry the person you love is also still a privilege. In a world in which love comes in many facets, in which there are also still arranged marriages, a bond chosen freely and without opposition is something exhilarating. Which makes your wedding special. Which is why we all celebrate you. Because, NOW, you truly have it all.”