The groom says, ‘We are now husband and wife, and are one. You are mine and I am yours for eternity.’ The bride accepts and says ‘I am now your wife. We will love, honour and cherish each other forever.’
Can I actually belong to someone? And that too for eternity? As childish as that question is, it is also deeply profound. I can’t belong to someone as I am not a possession and even if I was, not everyone treats possessions with care. And all this holds true for the man in my life too. So much about being together is about space. The lockdown has made finding that space even harder for so many of us. When we were younger, reading trashy, fictional romance, the idea of belonging to someone seemed giddily glorious. It’s like never letting go of that new doll, the poor doll can never articulate how suffocated she is and sometimes, neither can we.
At a casual, girly lockdown dinner a couple of days ago we talked about how worried we were about going through isolation and forced quarantining as a family. It’s incredible how we now discuss wills, rooms in which we isolate and other such awful things with much ease. We also chattered about more mundane, everyday things like not getting on each other’s nerves and familial sanity, coming to the conclusion that so far, we are coping. So many others have not been so lucky. We were shaken with the news of close friends’ separating a few weeks ago. Forced confinement can do that to seemingly normal marriages. When we are so used to leaving the front door and having the next ten hours to ourselves and our vocation of choice, forced togetherness is jarring and sometimes ends perfectly sustainable relationships. They realised they were unhappy. They just grew out of love.
My husband and I sit on different floors as we snake through our Covid induced ‘working from home’ regimen. It’s incredible how quickly you make a space your own, with you own mess, clutter and warmth that make it all the more comfortable. We can still hear each other on conference calls, meet at the dining table for a quick snack and remind each other of chores we promised we would do. We are homebound but have tried to create both physical and mental space. We know we have to do this. Adapting to new situations always questions relationships and ours is no different.
Seven long vows where we promise to commit, promise to procreate, promise to honour and promise to love – do we really need to do all this to be with someone? The simple answer is no. In today’s day and age none of this is necessary and yet so many of us do it. Why? For me the original answers were, not wanting to be lonely, enjoying the romance a relationship brought and more importantly – family.
After 15 years of being together, the bond we have created, the family we have nurtured and the laughter and happiness it has brought us has been worth all the arguments, fights and sleepless nights. As I write this, the doubts creep in though! I hope we continue to have the resilience, maturity and love to keep at it for another 15. I have called these vows of marriage archaic, sexist yet democratic and even all too similar as I blogged through them, but writing about these promises has reminded me why I bothered with marriage in the first place. So far, we have stayed committed, we have stayed honest and even though the sparks in romance have changed, they are still very much there. More than all these emotions, there is deep friendship that has developed with an inter-dependence that feels scarily irreplaceable. I have learnt that matrimony is not for everyone, it is not essential to make you complete and it certainly comes with a million flaws including the in-laws!! But for the hustle and bustle all these relationships bring, they have brought with them a sense of family and strength, that I will cherish forever.
When we circled around the fire, making those vows and promises that the priest chanted in his happy singalong, it’s the two sets of parents sitting on either side that actually understand the solemnity of the occasion most. They have lived and breathed those promises, some successfully and some not, just like so many that are waiting to congratulate and bless us as we finally come to a standstill. As the blessed grains of rice and perfumed petals come showering down on us, I did not know of good fortunes and difficulties to come, I presume the whole idea of pomp and colour at the occasion is to celebrate how special the ride ahead will be. As I relive those moments, all I can hope for is that the promises we have made will hold us together, not because the words chanted bind us but because we have created new reasons over the years that will keep us together for decades to follow.
Credit: The Railway Woman