Love is Not a Marriage – A Response to J. Bernice from the Blog Outrage to Reform

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This week’s blog post is a response to the article “Love is Not a Marriage” by J. Bernice from the blog From Outrage To Reform. It includes quotes and excerpts but be sure to read the original article in it’s entirety.

I believed whole-heartedly, I still believe, that marriage should always follow love (although it doesn’t necessarily precede it). I believe this whole-heartedly, although I understand in ways that I never dreamed I’d understand a) that we can’t always marry the people we love, b) that we shouldn’t always, c) and that love in itself is not a marriage, no matter how much we might wish it.    Marriage, I imagine, requires something much, much more.”        -J. Bernice

 I met him in the smoke-filled club on Thirsty Thursday. Our first dance, was T-Pain’s “I’m in Love with a Stripper”.  At last call he was still there, asking me to be his Valentine.  It had been fun, but I couldn’t. I overshared.  “I just broke up with someone, and it was my fault, so no, I can’t.”  I told him.  “Me too”, he said with sincerity.  I wanted to know more.

Outside of the club I learned my friend knew his friend and so it was safe to leave with him.  I spent the dawn sitting on his couch learning all about Nikki.  Nikki was his high-school sweetheart.  He loved her still.  After four years, he’d cheated, and now Nikki was gone.  He hadn’t forgiven himself.  He wasn’t over it.  His own discretion paralleled my recent ones, except it’d been my college boyfriend and the wound was even fresher.

Four – months later I graduated with no plans. For the first time in life, I had no idea what to do next or how to define success.  My friend’s apartment conveniently needed a 4th roommate the day after graduation and my internship agreed to keep me around.  He got offered a job at the Federal Reserve making 50k.  Everyone else I knew was unemployed or lucky to be working at 35k.  After all, it was 2006, a recession and we were new college grads.  After two months and a new car, he quit and decided to play poker full time.  It was then, that I first knew I loved him.

Five years later he broke my heart in the best way. We had become the black version of Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher, or Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake (choose your poison, same movie different titles).  When we were single we’d spend birthdays, New Year’s and Saturday nights together.  When we weren’t single, we were gracefully scarce.  He was my friend more than any boyfriend had ever been.  He listened, he comforted, he called me out on my bullshit, he motivated, he took risk.  He was bold in ways I envied.  When I started a business instead of working for one, he didn’t think it was dumb.  When that meant extra years of living with my parents, he didn’t judge.

At times, we both silently questioned why we weren’t more.  After five years, I finally said it. “I love you.  Let’s just try for real.”  I said.  “I love you too,” he said.  “I think that you will be a great wife, and a great mother…just not my wife.” 

I cried a lot, the kind of tears that swallow your breath.  My friends wanted me to move on.  To stop allowing him to linger in my background.  They couldn’t understand my fixation, my constant return to someone so straightforward.  It was the history, the years of friendship, the initial bond over an inability to forgive oneself.  It was quitting a good job for an nontraditional passion.  It was anti nine to five and white picket fences.  It was my mother’s tears at the burial of my estranged grandfather and the way my father held her absorbing her pain.  It was my own vision of what would be the most painful day of my own life, and un-doubting knowledge that his embrace would be the only one able to absorb my pain.  It was a life of constant understated simplicity and calculated risk so different from everything I was taught to value that it felt alive.

But he wanted a girl to “drag him to church” even though he never went.  He wanted Christmas, and Easter.  He didn’t understand why I fasted the month of Ramadan but then complained so much about it.  He knew before I did that I needed someone who understood this.  He knew before I did that Love Is Not a Marriage.

In year seven, on July 3rd 2013, I met my husband.  On July 4th we went to breakfast followed by a two hour walk in Grant Park.  I knew an hour after breakfast, and half way through that walk that I would marry him.  I truly loved him some six months later when we faced our first adversity together.  6 Reasons Why I Married Him Other Than Love

It’s been 11 years since that thirsty Thursday, dancing in the club to T-Pain.  My friend is in full wedding planning mode.  His bride is beautiful, kind-hearted and will in fact drag him to church.  They’ve had Christmas’s together and Easters, while my husband and I have had Uno battles and Ikea explorations to pass the hours of long Ramadan fast.

I’m grateful for my friend’s wisdom and steadfastness.  He knew what he wanted, what he needed, even when I didn’t yet. 

“Love is ….sounding your barbaric yawp across the rooftops of the world. It’s losing and sinking and shredding and climbing, and feeling absolutely and completely overcome.

Marriage is surviving the birth of children, or their traumatic and untimely death, or the struggle of not being able to conceive together. It’s growing in faith while your partner loses hers. It’s deciding on churches or abandoning Church. It’s choosing schools, choosing neighborhoods, choosing communities. It’s choosing cities and choosing institutions.”                                                                             -J.Bernice

I agree.  But if Love is not unequivocally a bridge to marriage how can it become one?

Love must become plural and not singular.  It must become volume not perimeter.  It must be selfish wrapped in sacrifice, pathos wrapped in logos.  Lovers must become siblings.

Only then can marriage lathered in love, steered by selfish sacrifice, lodged in logic, and bound by blood endure wavering faith, childbirth, parental death, overbearing families, financial debt, boredom, stagnation and growth, unemployment, sickness, fear, and tragedy.”

“…we can’t always marry the people we love….we shouldn’t always….love in itself is not a marriage, no matter how much we might wish it.

Marriage, I imagine, requires something much, much more.”

-J. Bernice.


What are your thoughts?  Does all love turn into marriage?  Should it?  Does marriage require something much, much more than solely love?  Thanks for reading and don’t forget to check out the original post “Love is Not a Marriage” by J. Bernice.





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