Earlier last week, a 10th Circut Court Judge ruled Utah’s amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage as unconstitutional. Not surprisingly many Utahans were up in arms over this announcement, while others celebrated in the streets. Utah is now the 18th state to recognize gay marriage, arguably making 2013 the year of marriage equality. As a 29-year-old straight single male, I found myself laying in bed the night of this historical announcement with the feeling that too many people are fighting the wrong battle.
For the last 3 months, I’ve been traveling across America interviewing 100 couples who are in love with each other. On my journey I interviewed the religious and non-religious. I documented stories of the rich and the poor. I stole glances into the lives of city dwellers, and country folk, doctors, lawyers, and artists. I saw first-hand how incredible marriage can be. And after talking to these amazing people, I have come to one very important realization:
Too many married couples have forgotten what love is all about.
I arrived home from my journey just in time to observe the backlash of the ruling. It surprised me how many people were passionately fighting to prevent others from getting married while their own marriages are merely an emotionless husk of a relationship.
Couples everywhere have allowed their marriages to turn into a glorified roommate situation. Date nights are a rare, and seldom involve any type of emotional connection or excitement. Couples have convinced themselves that their relationship should take a back seat to their kids, or finishing school, or work commitments, or church responsibilities. They no longer communicate in hugs and kisses, and instead choose passive-aggressive stares and sarcastic gibes. They exist in the same space, breathe the same air, and yet haven’t shared a real moment together in weeks, or even years. Their sex lives have grown stale as they’ve allowed the plague of busy, the drone of routine, and build-up of resentment to make them forget what they once cherished so deeply.
Marriage Equality is not going to be the downfall of our society. The real threat is a lack of Marriage Quality.
We, the single folk, need more role models and examples of what happy, healthy, fulfilling relationships look like. We need to see husbands invest time and energy in their wives as if they were the most important thing in the world. We need to see wives adore their husbands more than blood-sucking characters from romance novels, or reality TV stars with 10 simultaneous girlfriends.
We need to be exposed to emotionally healthy couples who surprise each other with romantic gestures - who learn new things and fulfill lifelong goals together. We need proof that marriage opens up a whole new world of opportunity and growth that can’t otherwise be experienced.
In short, we need someone to show us that marriage truly is better than being single.
It’s time to raise the bar. Step up to the plate. Show us what marriage is meant to be.
You’ll do far more good in the defense of the sanctity of marriage by writing a love note to your spouse than you ever could by updating your Facebook status with impassioned, scripture-infused messages in an attempt to put your morals on display. Choosing to create and share a life of joy, memories, and love will have more impact than merely being that person who complains about the moral corrosion of our society or shaking a fist at ominous government leaders.
I truly believe the number of kids born to single parent households will drop if we stop focusing so much on who gets to get married, and instead have more examples of what it means to be happily married.
I’m confident that the fear of commitment that comes with cohabitation, and the irreconcilable differences that consistently receive the blame for divorce, would all but disappear if people allowed themselves to talk about how much they love their spouse, and not complain behind their backs, or refer to them as the “ball and chain.”
On behalf of single people everywhere who still believe in marriage but are quickly losing hope, can we please stop fighting about things that won’t change, and instead start fighting for the things that should?
And to those of you married couples who have something special, please make your voices heard. A generation of jaded cynics desperately needs you to show us the way.