“For better or, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part” — These words uttered thousands of times before, on a pew by some robed acolyte, summarize the eerie finality of marriage, a bond supposedly broken by demise alone. Such a bond should be founded on love and trust alone. However, it doesn’t take much to see that many, if not most, marriages today wind up a tattered image of their origin. Even if they don’t end in a booze-infested and lawyer-riddled divorce, they end emotionally, with two souls so disengaged that their utter lack of romance has major ramifications on their kids, finances, and, most importantly, happiness. While many often view romance, love, and marriage as synonymous and interconnected, they certainly are not and I don’t think they ever should be. The prime issue of traditional marriage is that romance and sexual emotions impact our decision making; relationships that are founded on the excitement of love can quickly become an ordeal when money and personal ambitions are thrown into the mix. Thus, I propose an easier fix to the complications that normative unions pose: the platonic marriage.
A platonic marriage doesn’t lack love, it expands on that simple notion of fondness, without the intimacy of a normative relationship. It is founded on mutual respect and adoration rather than anything sexual or based in passion. I want my life partner to be my best friend, my family — someone with whom I can share a deep emotional bond. I want easy collaboration on life decisions with someone who knows absolutely everything about me and has similar intentions, with no ulterior motives. Love takes work, but love in marriage takes substantially more. Meaning that, if anything, a platonic marriage is easier than combining the two, it allows a separation of romance and life choices.
The best part of marrying your best friend is that you can also experience love outside the marriage, at the same time. You can have your “great love affair(s),” it simply won’t end with a wedding. Nothing is holding you hostage in this marriage- neither your heart and emotions clouding your judgement, nor the pressure of society's expectations to experience a “perfect” relationship. In the worst-case scenario, if anyone in a platonic marriage chooses to leave it, you can still remain friends without the inevitable awkwardness of having been former flames. One could even throw an elaborate divorce party to celebrate its end.
Popular media (with the exception of Sue Sylvester in Glee) rarely portrays platonic or idiosyncratic marriages, it’s not fitting enough for the fantasy-romance narrative we are so desperate to replicate. For some reason sexual or romantic love is not enough — it has to end in definite union or the romance isn’t “real.” But what exactly is romantic about marriage itself, aside from the obviously very sexy legal contracts that save money and time on tax returns and insurance? Historically, the common marriage would have been nothing more than a simple agreement to procreate and unite material or financial assets, sometimes to unite kingdoms, other times to receive dowries. Nevertheless, it was not “loving” in nature. Five hundred years ago, when people living past thirty were considered miraculous, marrying for love would have made sense. Ten years of fighting and loving, exclusively, the same person is a lot more bearable than sixty. And sure, if I knew I was gonna die at twenty-five, maybe I would marry a man who’d buy me flowers one day and the next tell me I should go grocery shopping cause I’m “so much better at it.” But considering that’s not the case, I refuse to settle for a lifetime of compromises at my expense.
While it may be a truth we choose to forget- you choose your confidants a heck of a lot more selectively than you choose your “lovers.” If you don’t believe me, grab some soon-to-be-essential wine and ask your friends about your ex. Unfortunately, the reality of this world is that there are people that use sex and romance to manipulate and abuse their partners; pair that with a legal contract and years' worth of shared expenses, and situations of inescapable marital domestic abuse begin to make a lot more sense. Obviously, you can be manipulated and abused without matters of the heart being involved, but it does make it easier to be hurt by someone when you are romantically or sexually vulnerable.
Frankly, romantic marriage is a gamble that one simply shouldn’t take. Logically, the statistics on divorce don’t shine a favourable light upon standard marriage. If the NHS released a drug for a lifetime of behaviour-conditional happiness, but there was a fifty percent chance you would wind up locked in a child custody battle, down two hundred grand, and enrolled in intense therapy — would you gamble with those odds? Of course, it’s possible for a couple engaged in a romantic relationship to have an “eternal” marriage full of perdurable love, and obnoxiously undying sexual tension, but to perpetuate this rarity as normative is not only unrealistic, but harmful. It reinforces confining gender and identity stereotypes. If you can truthfully say that you have found this sort of love, then fantastic, but for those who choose reality, there is another option. Maybe I’m simply not a hopeless romantic, but when it comes to binding commitments, I think I’d rather listen to my head than my heart. Personally, I would love the disgustingly extravagant wedding of my Pinterest fantasies and the best part of a platonic marriage is, I can still have that, glittering diamond rings and all.
Image: Unsplash, Sandy Millar