How THIS Millennial Approaches ‘I Do’

August 04, 2014

_*This post is in direct response to the article titled “The Beta Marriage: How Millennials Approach ‘I Do'” published in Time Magazine July 25th. _

You could say that I value the idea of a committed, long-term relationship. 

You could also say that, according to Jessica Bennett’s Time magazine article entitled “The Beta Marriage,” I’m a minority in my generation. According to the following (questionable) statistics published in said article, 43% of millennials would be interested in what has been termed a ‘beta marriage,’ essentially a free trial period to test out a relationship aka marriage which can be dissolved at the snap of the fingers. Does your spouse get on your nerves? No worries. Just end your trial marriage. Did you fall in love with someone else soon after your marriage? Never fear. Just end your trial marriage. Without consequence. Just make sure you do it before your two-year trial runs out. 


Bennett writes:  

“For a generation reared on technology, overwhelmed by choice, feedback and constant FOMO (fear of missing out), isn’t testing a marriage, like we test a username, simply … well, logical?”

In case you didn’t catch that last bit, Bennett just equated what etymologically refers to “pledging oneself, covenanting to do something, vowing” and unifying a man and woman for _life _to a username. Because, obviously, calling off a lifetime commitment when you get bored of it is just as sensible as making sure hackers don’t break into your inbox.

I’m seeing the logic here. Barely. Hardly.

The article further states that these are

“unions you can test and deglitch, work out kinks or simply abandon course without consequence. ‘This is a generation that is used to this idea that everything is in beta, that life is a work in progress, so the idea of a beta marriage makes sense,’ the study’s author, Melissa Lavigne-Delville, tells me. ‘It’s not that they’re entirely noncommittal, it’s just that they’re nimble and open to change.’”

So it all works out because those dear, noble millennials are just so open-minded. We’re so nimble, so progressive.

So deluded that I’m ashamed to be one sometimes.

It’s a joke, kind of. Except not.

The real joke is 43% of “all” millennials’ concept of love. And by millennials, I mean us. The kids who were born at the turn of the century, the kids who came in with the Internet and “there’s an app for that,” the kids who are supposed to lead the world forward, the next Martin Luther King Jr.s and Susan B. Anthonys. The ones who, statistically, may not ever be heroes because they don’t seem to care about anything except satisfying themselves and their personal agendas. The kids represented by a dirty statistic and a delusional concept of what the word ‘union’ means.

We don’t seem to understand how relationships and loving others and simply being human works. We just want to get our combo meal commitment, consume and take, and then dispose of the remains we’ve created so that we can move on to the next meal. To the next person we consider an object. To the next relationship we care nothing about except for the ways in which it gratifies us.

That’s not marriage. That’s abuse.

It’s abusive to make a commitment to someone and then back out because “you’re just not feeling it anymore.” It’s abusive to string along love interests and use them to satisfy yourself. It’s abusive to give yourself entirely to another person, only to drop them on their heads, alone two years later. It’s abusive to jump into a relationship that is entirely about caring for another person’s needs and, yet, having no intentions of doing so. If not physically, if not verbally, emotionally. Mentally. Spiritually.

Marriage isn’t about taking what you want and getting out before the going gets rough. Marriage isn’t like a band-aid you can put on to help yourself and then rip off once you feel you’ve been satisfied. Marriage isn’t about “testing a commitment.” It’s about solidifying it, actually being committed. The testing period is over. Done with. It’s called dating and engagement. And if you can’t handle being completely faithful to another person long-term, don’t you dare insult marriage and degrade your “loved one” by hopping into something you’re too cowardly to make work.

“I do” means just what it sounds like it means. I do promise to love and protect my spouse. I do promise to be completely honest, to remain devoted. I do promise complete fidelity. This ridiculous notion of a beta-marriage screams “I don’t.” I don’t want this long-term. I don’t want to be “tied down.” I don’t want you.

It’s selfish, it’s deceitful, and, despite Bennett’s ridiculous claim, it’s loaded with consequences that strip us of our decency and our capacity to truly love people for who they are and who they’ll become.

“I do” doesn’t mean “I’ll get back to you later on that.” It means I love you and I’m brave. It means I won’t give up on you.

You could say that I value committed, long-term relationships. Anything that demands less than that is not a marriage.

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