Is it Tuesday already? To wake yourself you might enjoy this. So there you are, on the precipice of marriage, picking up your fiancé’s laundry off the floor of your apartment because it was cheaper to move in together a year ago to save money for the Big Day, irritated that he is already happy for you to do most of the cleaning and cooking, and then you get a call from work that you have to go to some meeting the day after the wedding, to a meeting far away. What do you do?
Factors to consider are legion. First of all, it’s an excellent job making excellent money and you cannot afford to say no. Second of all, you’ve been living together so it’s no big deal—the only big deal right now is that he smears toothpaste on the counter. Third of all, the wedding is so expensive, made possible by two high paying jobs, but still, that open bar will be paid down for years to come. Nothing can be postponed because so many non-refundable down-payments have already been grudgingly doled out.
Well, what you do is you each go on the trip of your choice—according to some newly married, practical minded young people. Not together, mind you, but separately. Its called a ‘unimoon.’ Sorry autocorrect—you’re just going to have to deal. Kudos to the author of the piece who thinks it’s kind of crazy and gives a couple of good reasons why you should go away to the same place at the same time even if you’ve been living together for what feels like forever. And also kudos to people for actually marrying other people and not marrying themselves. Congratulations on that score are very much in order.
But allow me to make a small, tepid case for something that Americans don’t care much about, I guess. And that is for the bedrock impracticality of marriage itself. Marriage, like a lot of other important estates, is not really supposed to be practical. It’s not a way to get ahead in life. It’s not the way to achieve your dreams and your true potential. It’s not like picking out and owning a car, which is eminently practical, or a washing machine—also very useful. It’s not even, however painful and subversive it is of me to say this, about you. It’s about God and everybody, though you do play an important part in the proceedings.
The trouble is, God isn’t practical. He doesn’t fix things the way we think he should. When Adam and Eve ruined everything in the garden, if God had been an American, he would bashed the snake over the head and launched into a quick three part sermon series about repentance where each point started with the same letter. The sermon would have led directly to the forgiveness and restoration of those poor sorry sinners who displayed their sorrow by walking down the long garden aisle in tears. They would each give a testimony, and then they would have started churning out home bible studies and acronyms and that would have been it—no rest of the Bible, no poetry, no long torturous allegory-laden walk out of their souls’ deep darkness and into God’s glorious light.God, being so impractical, gave marriage as one way of letting the world know about how completely impractical He is. Marriage is so impractical. It is shaped, for one thing, not in getting things done efficiently through the day, but in trying and failing to love a mysterious, essentially unknowable creature over a long difficult period of time. And then, in many cases, inviting other difficult unknowable creatures into that small, increasingly messy world (those would be children, am not making a case for polyamory here). Each of those people have to work, rather painfully, to divulge themselves, to be known and try to know the Other. There are daily misunderstandings, unkindnesses, anxieties, worries, tiny yet insurmountable problems that make it almost impossible get from point A to point B without protracted and occasionally useless conversations. It’s Not Practical.
But, if you’re doing it right, it is very Interesting. Haunting sometimes. Curious and strange. Fascinating to look at. Try reading the Bible and see how strange is the tortured journey—story really—from the Fall to the Cross to the Parousia. That is the story we’re not only supposed to be formed and shaped by, but to be caught up in. And two people, bound together in the covenant of marriage, get to enact portions of it in the micro-cosmic drama of daily life. Not literally, of course—for heaven’s sake, read some poetry—but through the long dusty shadows of forgiveness and self-denial.
Try it this way. You meet someone and fall in love. Of course you both have to work because everything is so expensive—especially having to live in two places before you actually go through with the ceremony. You decide to get married in church on Sunday morning because the most important people to witness this great event, besides your family, are the church who will uphold and care for you. You have a really nice coffee hour downstairs where everyone brings something gorgeous and you dance (if that’s what your church does) and give toasts. In all you end up spending a few hundred bucks. So you can’t go away the next day together because you both have work and you need those jobs to eat food and no one would give you vacation time. So you go out for a nice dinner together, and arrange your vacations to take time off when you can, and then you do, you go somewhere together and stare at each other and argue and then you pack up and go home. Not a unimoon, my goodness, but the sweet impractical joy of beginning to be with someone you’ve longed to know.
Or whatever, do as you like. As we head into wedding season, no one ever takes my advice.