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As Valentine's day approaches, the question of "true love" is cropping up for many lovebirds all over. While many are planning cute dates and sweet gifts, some are planning bigger moves- proposals. I realized that this scares me. I always thought marriage was such a sweet notion to prove your undying love for your significant other but, recently I've been having second thoughts. I mean, do I even really want to get married? I always thought it was like Santa: you either believe in marriage or you don't. I am realizing, it is a bit more complex.

A few weeks ago, I came across an article that brought up A LOT of controversy among my friends and family. In a New York Times article (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/06/style/modern-love-the-secret-to-marri...), author Gabrielle Zevin, delves into the idea of marriage. She and her boyfriend, Hans, met in her second week of college and it was basically love at first sight. They bonded over wearing black and a few months later, they were a couple. Gabrielle and Hans fell in love and have been together ever since- 21 years! Can you believe that? In a world of 72- day marriages, cheating scandals and record high divorce rates it seems near impossible to think of being committed to one person for two decades. The one thing that stuck out the most to me was that, although Gabrielle and Hans loved each and were totally committed to their relationship, they did not feel the need to seal the deal with a government official wedding ceremony. Strange, right? Most people are planning for marriage and holding their breath every time their partner gets down to tie their shoe. So, why, after 21 years, did they decide not to get married? Simple: a piece of paper does not define them. Zevin says this about her "belief" in marriage;

"When I say I don’t believe in marriage, what I mean to say is: I understand the financial and legal benefits, but I don’t believe the government or a church or a department store registry can change the way I already feel and behave. Or maybe it would. Because when the law doesn’t bind you as a couple, you have to choose each other every day. And maybe the act of choosing changes a relationship for the better. But successfully married people must know this already."

I could not get this article out of my head! For weeks, I toiled with the thought: do I believe in marriage? I always thought about it as a young girl but, now that I am 21, it's something I really need to think about. It's not something that you either believe or you don't- it is way more complex than that. I found myself wondering if I only like the idea of marriage- the reception, the flowers, the poofy white dress? In reality, yes! I was only romanticizing the wedding and not the marriage itself. What I learned from Zevin's article was that a partnership is the only thing that matters. You should want to choose your person everyday and not just because you have a piece of paper that says you should. Naturally, I told my my boyfriend at the time how this article made me feel and asked him what he thought. He said that "If you love someone and a piece of paper doesn't matter, then why NOT get married?" We continued the conversation and he surmised that perhaps I was just scared of marriage. I agreed because it seemed like a logical explanation. But, still, I couldn't stop thinking about the subject. And not just generally but, specifically relating to people in my age group- millennials. After reading, Gabrielle Zevin's article, I read another about millennials and matrimony. It said that they either waiting until they were older to get married or opting out completely (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/why-arent-millennials-getting-marri...). I still couldn't draw any conclusions so, I did the only thing a sane millennial would do- I turned to my friends.

On my Facebook, I posed the question of marriage to my friends, "Duck it or do it?". The responses poured in.

April, 22, simply answered," It's all fun and games until you get divorced." Victoria, 21, says one thing she has learned to be true across "cultures all over the world is that marriage is fluid." Another friend sounded off on my question of "Why would you get married" saying, while many in our generation "marry for convenience", she would "marry for love" to avoid marrying out of desperation. Some of my other friends had very insightful thoughts and strong stances on the topic. Take Kelsey, 23, for example- she had one of the lengthiest responses. Kelsey said felt that there was no differences between being married and unmarried but said people should wait until they are older to get married and more established, not just financially- like Brianna, 21, suggested- but also in who you are as a person. This is something many young people are told nowadays and maybe there is some truth to it- many fall into unhealthy, codependent relationships that can be destructive. She also brought up the point of divorce and I asked if millennials were more prone to it, to which she replied that people of all ages get divorced but, a major problem is that "people get married and don't want to fix broken parts of the relationship" and to see your partner in the good times and bad in order to get a full scope of who they are.

I even turned to an expert in love for help in my quest for answers whether or not millennials should get in on this marriage business. Priscilla, 23, is in the business of planned proposals and who better to ask about marriage than someone that does it for a living, right? She comes from a divorced family but, is a self proclaimed "hopeless romantic" who still believes in soulmates. When it comes to marriage, like myself, she is in love with the idea of weddings and love but says "Nowadays, marriage is really not a big deal." I have to say, I was surprised.  She felt that marriage was really only important when it came to having children. She added, "If I am happy and in love with my partner and where I am in life, there is no rush. Maybe it's bad for business to say this, but people blow up the idea of marriage. It isn't so bound to the church like it used to be." While Priscilla may not necessarily believe in marriage herself, it doesn't mean she still won't help you plan yours so, check out her website here: https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.thehopefulromanticevents...

Everyone I spoke to had so many opinions on marriage that have really changed my perception on this confusing topic. For some people, it's simple- they just know that they want to get married- but, for me, it has been a confusing few weeks! I thought I believed in the institution of the "m" word but, was it necessary? I came to a conclusion that, although it has its pros and cons- I'm still just not sure about marriage. Maybe a year from now I'll change my mind. Maybe in ten years or so, I'll find myself raising a family of chickens with my husband. Perhaps I'll be raising two German Shepherds named Harold and Kumar with a man I've been happily unmarried to for six years. Or, maybe I'll be alone with my cats, who knows! The bottom line is this: the decision on whether or not you should get is one that you has to be made solely by YOU. And, when you know, you know, you know? 

I am a Junior Theatre Studies major with a concentration in Production at Kent State University hoping to become a costume designer, writer, director and stage actor.
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