Sunday Firesides: Marriage Is More Than a Piece of Paper

A marriage isn’t just a piece of paper. It’s also an institution that has been around for centuries, and is sacred by many cultures. We take it very seriously here in the United States. That said, marriages aren’t permanent or eternal – they can end if you choose to divorce your spouse or even get married again! In our firesides we talk about how important it is not to underestimate what makes a marriage work.

The “argument for marriage” is a concept that many people believe to be true. The argument states that marriage is more than a piece of paper, and it is about commitment, love, and support.

“Marriage is only a piece of paper; I don’t need the state or the church to tell me I love someone.”

This current viewpoint is often seen as a consequence of shifting views about interpersonal interactions and social structures.

But it’s essentially a sign of shifting ideas of ritual’s effectiveness.

If you believe in the power of ceremony, marriage is more than just a piece of paper. In both literal and figurative uses of the word.

Commitment is crystallized in the marriage rite. It requires volitional decision instead of ambiguous sliding. A private, ethereal emotion is transformed into physical action. Making vows in front of family and friends alters their expectations of you and your spouse, as well as your own. 

The marriage rite produces tension, theatrical complexity, and an emotional turning point — a climax arc — in a life we want to be presented as a dramatic, captivating story, but which usually tends to flatness.

The wedding ceremony acts as a rite of passage, a psychological transformation, and a line of demarcation between who you were individually and who you’ll be together. A chapter comes to a close, and a new one starts.

The wedding rite produces a memorial, a crest to which you may reorient yourself throughout time, an anniversary upon which your love can be perpetually regenerated, revitalized, and re-founded. 

More than that, the marriage rite is transforming in ways that cannot be described only by examining its mechanics. It taps on some mystical ability to affect everything while changing nothing. 

Whether or if marriage is more than a piece of paper is determined by one’s attitude toward ceremony. And one’s perspective on ritual is influenced by one’s belief that the universe is inherently enchanted.

When it comes to something as mysterious and sublime as love, we shouldn’t dismiss it out of hand. 



The “art of manliness engagement” is a weekly podcast hosted by Brett McKay and his wife, Brandy. The show discusses topics such as marriage, parenting, self-improvement and the like.

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