On marriage: more than ‘just’ a piece of paper

**The fourth in my mini-series on marriage. I am exploring why I want it (or trying to), what goes into a successful marriage, and snippets of conversations M and I have had on this very topic**

Marriage is more than ‘just’ a piece of paper.

For those of you that didn’t know me when I was married, for me to say this now and truly believe it…telling.

Because when I got married, I don’t think I truly believed in marriage and what it stands for. I saw it more as a formality, as the next ‘logical’ step in our (then) 7-year relationship. I pish-poshed the rituals of the engagement party, bridal shower, the whole nine yards wedding. I got married with none of my family or friends nearby. When we said our vows overlooking the waters of Kauai, I distinctly remember thinking ‘I should be more emotional. I should be crying. Or something. This should feel different. And powerful. And ‘us.’ But instead? It felt lonely (as I’ve said before). And it did feel like ‘just’ a piece of paper afterwards. We were happy, but we weren’t any *more* happy because we were married (not that I think that it’s like a light switch, suddenly your now-marriage is perfect puppies and rainbows, but there is something to be said for the ‘honeymoon period’ for a reason, right?!).

As these words flow from my fingertips…I am actually surprised at what I’m revealing. And the revelations I am uncovering through this post and this series, overall. I think my disbelief in marriage and what it stands for was one of several underlying reasons why our marriage ultimately failed. Because my ex-husband had this very same view…marriage is ‘just’ a piece of paper.

But now? I think in order for marriage to succeed, both have to believe that there is a reason to get married. That it’s not just a ‘logical’ step. That we want to publicly commit to each other (hopefully) for a lifetime. And put in the commitment necessary to make it succeed. Now, I am not saying that I suddenly ‘believe’ in the big white puffy dress fairy tale that so many do as they grow up, but I do know this: if/when M and I marry, we will be surrounded by our close family. Where/when/how/what is still up for debate, but making this commitment with our families there is important to me. For the very first time.

Because, it’s not just a piece of paper anymore. It’s purposeful. It is filled with intent. And it is a commitment I am ready to make. When the time comes.


For now, this is the end of my ‘on marriage’ series, though there may be more of these down the road…ya know, when the time comes (wink). Writing this series has been an incredibly eye-opening experience for me. Because with each topic that comes to mind, I actually have had no idea what I was going to write, until I wrote it. Free-flowing. Stream of conscious. I urge you…if there is something you are trying to work through, like me, and my thoughts on marriage and what I want it to look like, write it out. It truly makes it all come together.

31 thoughts on “On marriage: more than ‘just’ a piece of paper

  1. I’m inspired by your last sentence! Sometimes it’s hard having a totally public blog, because I can’t write about everything I’m going through.

    I definitely agree that marriage is much more than a piece of paper! I had a lot more fun planning my second wedding than my first, and I’m sure the same will be true for you!

  2. I love this conclusion. I’ve truly enjoyed reading this because as I get set to venture back into the world of dating *gasp* seeing how you’ve spelled out all of what you feel about marriage has really made me think about how I feel about it, and my priorities. XOXO Love ya friend!

    1. Thank you friend!! I am so glad this is inspiring you to get back out there. It is seriously worth every single bad date. I promise 🙂 XOXO

  3. It’s interesting…when my ex and I got married, I, too, saw it as “just a piece of paper”. I don’t feel that way anymore…at all. When CBG and I tie the knot, it will be, as you said, purposeful and with intent. It will also be the biggest big-ass celebration you ever saw, even if it’s only him & I and our four kids.

    It’s going to mean something.

  4. Wow. This is VERY interesting to me – the whole disbelief in marriage you had when you got married the first time. I mean, you always were one to pish posh the ceremony of it all, but I thought you were just bucking the trend, being non-traditional, etc. I never really thought it ran deeper than that. But now that you put it all out there here – damn. Believe in the sanctity and unity that marriage is – – and not that its just a piece of paper, to ME is a big, big deal. It’s about honoring the unity, not just making it official. Such a big difference. And very, very cool how your perspective has changed. I can’t wait to be there when you and M make it official. I’ll be the chick in the corner bawling her eyes out 😉 xoxo

    1. I had a feeling this would be an eye-opener for you sis. It was for me, just writing it all out. The next time will mean so much more, and I can’t wait to share it with you…whenever that may be 🙂 XOXO

  5. I knew I had written something about this… and I did! http://abluemind.wordpress.com/2010/01/29/paper-weight/

    I don’t know… I guess I thought it would be a bigger deal than it was at the time I wrote this. I am sort of nervous that I need to get married a second time to “get it”. Although I was seriously freaking out beforehand, and then we signed the paper & went about our day like, oh, we’re married.

    But being able to go to the bank on his behalf makes him really happy, I think. LOL.

    Maybe I will feel differently when we have kids… the only big thing I have noticed is that when you’re married you can’t just walk out on each other when you argue.

    At any rate, I have enjoyed these… I really like your perspective & am very excited for you & M. It’s clear to me that you do not want to have the same kind of relationship you used to have with your ex because this is something much different… bigger & better. And I am very happy for you!

    1. Girl, I see nothing wrong with your perspective on this at ALL! We all have our own definition for marriage, and beyond the ‘paper’ reference, you truly have a good marriage, communicate well and are perfectly imperfect, as we all are. And thank you, I am glad you have liked reading these!!

  6. I think for me, so much will change in my relationship if/when I marry that it could never be just a piece of paper. I will be living with him and sleeping with him, aside from any other changes. It will literally be the beginning of our life together.

    It’s so important to me that our families are there and I REALLY want to be married by a minister. I think it all depends on what you want marriage to be. It seems as if this time around you have a better perspective and a better fit for you. I hope it works out how you want it to!

    1. I definitely have a different perspective on it, and very similar to yours. Families ARE important this time, very much so! Thank you for your comment!

  7. I enjoyed reading this and getting a better perspective of why you don’t see it as a piece of paper. It makes sense to me now. I didn’t want all the big traditional hubbub of a wedding, but I did want my family and friends there. I wanted it to be special and I was definitely emotional about it. But, I still think that Jason and I would be the same as we are now even if we hadn’t said the vows. But that’s us. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t take marriage lightly at all. I guess I just never felt that I had to have the paper to make our relationship a real marriage (if that makes sense at all…in my mind, we were married, partners for life),

    1. Thank you friend, I have enjoyed reading YOUR perspective on it, in return! Honestly, I love that you somewhat ‘respectfully disagree’ with my view on the ‘paper’ thing, yet, you truly define what a good marriage IS and what I want in mine…so we really do see eye to eye on this, no matter how it’s defined or how we say it. XOXO

  8. Such a beautiful post, and series. You’ve acknowledged the past, but not let it make you bitter. I just came off of reading Eat, Love, Pray and even in a happy marriage there are some amazing takeaways spiritually from that book.

    I know that the hus probably could have waited longer to finally get married but for me it was putting it out there to the universe that we were together. To each their own, though. I wish nothing but happiness in love for you – in whatever shape that comes.

  9. Love it. And I am working through stuff, as usual, through my blog. Writing has always been cathartic to me. Have you ever read “The Artist’s Way”? She recommends free flow writing every day to help clear things out. Good stuff.

    I do agree that your intention and his will make a difference. Your attitude towards anything does. I’m glad that writing it out helped you so much.


    1. I have not read it, but will add it to my list!! Writing this out has been incredibly eye opening! Thank you for your support and encouragement always! XOXO

  10. I’ve really loved reading this whole series. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself and your thoughts with us. In each post, you’ve really made me think harder about what I believe about marriage and partnership and love and all of it. It’s really interesting to read your reflections on your marriage and your disbelief in marriage. That makes so much sense. You are so right – it’s about being purposeful and acting with intent

    1. I am SO GLAD that this series has been helpful for you, personally. And being purposeful and with intent is a huge key for me now, and something I never saw before. Wow, who knew?

  11. Hahahaha, I love Jess’ response to this post.

    Jo, I’ve loved your marriage series, because you’ve said a lot of the same things I feel. I think that now that your head is really in it…and even more so your heart…your future is going to be beautiful. I swear people forget that marriage isn’t just about a piece of paper joining you together. It’s so much more than that, and the commitment to the BOND is what needs to be nourished. Vows are not just words, they’re promises…and they’re multifaceted. Just as marriage is.

    1. We really do see eye to eye on this, don’t we? The bond needs to be nourished. That is EXACTLY right!!! I am so glad you have found that in your marriage and it is such a solid foundation for you!!

  12. Great minds do think alike. I know we have talked about this before but the emotion I had that day was so lacking as well. Where as now Hardscape and I talk about and look for our own vows and that alone makes me tear up. Also, I like how you mentioned it the first time around as the “logical” step. Oh yes. Not this time though. Very well written my friend.

    1. We really ARE so on the same page! It’s crazy, isn’t it? The next time…it will be emotional, and with intent, and with purpose. I cannot wait to witness your marriage. Gives me chills just thinking about it 🙂

  13. You’re right; marriage should be more than just the next logical step and a piece of paper. And it’s great that you’re realizing that’s what you want with M!

  14. I just found your blog and haven’t done a lot of exploring yet, but this post caught my attention. I was once married, and I am now married again. Everything you wrote rings true in my life. You may or may not have read (or maybe even wrote about) the book Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert (eat pray love). If you haven’t read it, I strongly encourage you to do so. It really helped me feel confident going into my marriage with my husband!

  15. I know what you mean. I could’ve written this post myself not so long ago (except that my ex husband and I got married alone in the mountains, not on a beach). There’s a different attitude about marriage when the *love* is… better. I can’t quite formulate all of my thoughts into words right now. Suffice it to say you’ve caused me to think… and feel… a lot. Great post!

  16. This is interesting. I’ve been talking a lot about this, too. Since my mom died, I’ve said that I didn’t want anyone else there because it wouldn’t be as much fun. I also felt like I wanted a marriage, not a wedding. I’ve had to change my mindset because if The Man’s vision of what a wedding should be like can be a reality, I will do my best to help him achieve that (if we get to that stage).

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