“To the Tail End”
Getting married is like adopting a dog.
At the beginning, it’s all puppy-love: every moment produces laughter and joy, and all the odd quirks are the cutest thing in the world. Every day you celebrate your love, and find new ways to enjoy it.
But it’s also hard work. There’s toilet training, and going for walks, and making sure that you spend time with your marriage, even when you’re tired or stressed. Sometimes there are problems too: marriage isn’t trying to do the wrong thing, but it doesn’t know better yet, and you need to set boundaries and learn together.
Those odd little quirks can become a nuisance. Those little surprises that marriage gives you aren’t always charming. Marriage can grow shaggy, and when marriage gets wet and smells and shakes all over you it can really test your patience.
Over time, with routine and familiarity, marriage just isn’t the exciting puppy it once was.
But as it matures, your love for it also deepens. Marriage can still be exciting and new, even after many years, but the very ordinariness of it is also part of the appeal: its place on the rug is stable and steady against all the challenges life can throw.
Marriage is for comfort on cold nights, with its familiar weight and warmth in the darkness, and sloppy licks on the nose in the morning.
Marriage is for sharing long days, for exploring new places, for fetching things that you throw away.
Most of all, marriage is for tail-wagging slobbery joy.
Marriage is your constant companion, and it needs to be loved and respected. But in return, marriage will be your best friend, and will love you forever and ever, even when its old and slow and forgetful. And hopefully one day, many years from now, you will be able to take marriage’s grey muzzle in your hands, and stare into its eyes, and know that you’ve shared something very special together.
“To the Tail End,” Jessica Hewenn
(Inspired by How Falling in Love is like Owning a Dog by Taylor Mali)
May you wend through waving buttongrass in the golden glow of fading light, as wombats rise to walk their trails in growing night.
May you shelter then, seeing stars wink out between the waving arms of old gum trees, wary of their fickle limbs in the face of strong and growing breeze.
May you hear the storm amid the peaks as lighting flares and thunder calls, listen to the howling wind and roar of hail ‘gainst thin tent walls.
Find comfort then in knowing this, that you weather out this storm together, that dawn will come and clouds will lift for the strongest storm lasts not forever
And when your trail winds on through jagged rocks and dark peat bogs, through tea tree, baura and tangled logs,
As the snagging claws of scrub ensnare and through strength wear, look to your side and take heart to see love standing there.
For all these trials you share as one are stories of your life together, to tell with friends as tales of triumph when sitting calm in fairer weather.
“Trials Together,” Nick Ward
Response to the Marriage Monitum
The legal definition of marriage in Australia is:
“the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”
This definition of marriage was added to the Marriage Act in 2004, and has caused considerable discussion and intense emotions for many parts of the community. There is an ongoing conversation about what marriage is, who it is for, and what being married actually means.
This is an important discussion, but one that can also be very exhausting. At times, the personal and the romantic meaning of marriage seems to be completely swallowed up by the political and the legal.
So I would like to pause here for a moment to reflect on what marriage means, and what it means to us.
Marriage has meant different things in different cultures over time, and there are still many problematic forms of marriage in the world.
But at its most basic, marriage is an expression of commitment and love.
Marriage is a bond of intention for two people to live their lives entwined with each other. It is a bond recognised across language barriers, across cultural barriers, across religious barriers and across all of human history.
It is not just about being in a relationship with someone, but about committing oneself to that relationship and to that other person. It is not just about being in love, but about building love, and growing friendship and solidarity.
Marriage has often been about strategic alliances and convenience, and this wedding is no different: I’m marrying Nick in an attempt to get a Tasmanian passport!
But while marriage has always been about living a shared life with another person, one of the most meaningful cultural changes to marriage in the last few generations has been the emphasis on love. It is not just about two parts making a whole, or two lives bound together, but about choosing to do so.
Although the debate about marriage in Australia is currently divisive, marriage is bigger, more meaningful and more reflective of our culture and values than any single definition, and we have no doubt that politics will eventually catch up.
So as we get married today, we do so with the intention that our marriage is more than just the union of a man and a woman, but the union of two lives pledging love and commitment together.
This post is to record the readings from the day, but is also an enormous thank you to everyone who made it so special – from my mother-in-law’s spectacular cooking, to the beautiful artistic contributions of our friends Annika and Jason – and a shout out to the local Taswegian businesses we used.
For a more detailed, often funny and brilliantly written perspective of the weekend from one of the groomsmen, see Chris’ account.
And there’s also my mother’s take on her first daughter’s marriage.