The Entity of Marriage
Kidz on the Coast article (Jan 2015)
When I prepare my wedding couples for their wedding day and planning for their ceremony, I think it is my duty of care to have a discussion about marriage. I want to understand what their values and expectations are, and also share some insights for consideration as a way of preparation for one of the biggest relationship transitions people can make in their lives….to marry.
I am a big believer in investing in relationships and in marriage, of course! But relationships, full stop, aren’t easy. Marriage isn’t easy, and for that matter, nor is parenting. Human are the most complex beings on the planet, too. The key is to treat your relationship as you and your partner’s ‘love child’. This is most important when you transition and evolve your relationship in Marriage.
Marriage is many different things – it is a symbol of love and commitment; it is a celebration and declaration of a shared life; it is a co-creative endeavour of living and loving in a chosen partnership. Whatever it is, and whatever you chose it to be, it is a real living, breathing manifestation. Marriage is actually a ‘thing’. It is a tangible creation that exists. This is what is meant by the entity of marriage. It is not a noun for nothing.
One of the most important, and yet often assumed and unexamined functions of a marriage – at least relevant for young couples – is the creation of their own family unit. This may seem like an obvious thing, particularly as many couples have begun their families before getting married. However, it is worth real consideration. What happens with the ritual of marriage is quite literally, both individuals leave their ‘family of origin’ and create their own separate family unit. A new sacred boundary is created around the couple, establishing socially and legally, their primary family unit.
Sometimes I see this revelation very present and experienced in the ceremony as I watch the parents of the bride and groom. It is that bittersweet happiness and joy mixed with a real pain of separation when the parents are hit with the full realisation and knowledge that their children really have left them. The new wife and the husband are now each other’s first priority. They have a new first family. They become each other’s next of kin. The new couple will more powerfully shape and influence each other’s future than their parents can. Parents must step aside and allow that natural shift to occur.
Well that is the ideal. Often problems can occur in a marriage when families encroach and violate the ‘sacred boundary’ of a marriage. They can be too closely embedded and meddle and try to exert influence and control. Or sometimes, one in the couple, or both of them have not fully and successfully separated from their parents and family of origin, and continue to seek primary direction and affirmation from outside the marriage rather than within. Maybe this can be seen as partly a failure of the ceremony and ritual, and in the preparations leading up to the marriage to support the integration of this subtle but significant shifting of allegiances.
Some of the old traditions that have been diluted or disappeared completely from wedding rituals and ceremonies, like an old formal giving away, dowries and even the mock ‘kidnapping of the bride’ by the grooms tribe – (and for the most part, quite rightly these have been updated with more contemporary expressions) – but at the very least these were quite obvious symbols of this breaking away from one way family into another, altogether very different family.
Transitioning from not being married to being married is huge, no matter what anyone says. As proof, just consider the reverse, a marriage ending! The same energetic principles apply. It is ritually, socially, legally, emotionally, physically and spiritually, a massive shifting. Something has literally been created.
As such, couples must think within the framework of being responsible for this entity, this thing. It is about “me + you + our marriage”. A marriage must be nurtured; nourished; tended to and grown just like a child. When they marry, couples would benefit from a reframe of thinking that places the marriage as a real entity of shared responsibility.
For a successful marriage, sometimes, above and beyond the success of the individual, couples need to ask, ‘what is best here for our marriage?” Successfully married couples are committed to a shared vision for their marriage. It is about knowing that within the container of the marriage is where each other will be able to access the means for individual growth, evolvement and continued betterment, which is the true power of marriage.
Love your marriage as much as you love your partner!
Much love. Sarah
Sarah Tolmie is a Life & Love celebrant, coach, pastoral carer and consultant assisting people to celebrate, navigate, grow and heal through all their life & love transitions. Her coaching practice focuses on love & relationships, families & children; life success & fulfilment, death & grief. As a Celebrant Sarah create profound and meaningful ceremonies for all life & love events. Sarah has an academic background in Social Anthropology and a Masters in Communication. Sarah is also a Laughter Yoga Practitioner. You can receive her Daily Love updates on her Facebook page at Sarah Tolmie – Life & Love