I’ve gotten so many marriage proposals in the past month that I’m seriously considering going on The Bachelorette. But let me back track here.
When I got my first job out of college, I was thrilled to have found a company that would sponsor me because I’m not a US citizen. So when the decision was made, and I called up the lawyer, instead of welcoming the enormous retainer fee and subsequent paychecks, this is how our first conversation went down:
Lawyer: “Ok so you want to apply for the H1-B work visa. Do you have a bachelor’s degree or masters?”
Lawyer: “Hmm. What was your major?”
Lawyer: “Do you have a boyfriend?”
Lawyer: “How long have you been dating?”
Me: “Four years.”
Lawyer: “Why don’t you just marry him?”
America, you know your country’s immigration system is messed up when even lawyers would rather eschew the money to work around it. To be fair, my lawyer wasn’t the first and certainly wasn’t the last person to ask me that question. In fact, in a brief moment of frustration, my boyfriend and I asked the same question ourselves. It would just be So. Much. Easier. But (for a lack of something less cliché) it just didn’t feel right.
I consider myself a romantic and I attended a Christian high school but the idea that “marriage is sacred” never really sank in. What does that even mean? If you choose to live together and commit to each other without ever getting married, is your relationship any less sacred just because you didn’t sign some papers?
I’ve never liked to look to rules and laws to govern something as free as emotions, but funnily enough, it was the law that truly enlightened me to the sanctity of marriage. As we all learned in Legally Blonde, Aristotle once said, “The law is reason free from passion.” But, just like Elle Woods, I beg to differ. When it comes to marriage, the law is the most romantic figure of us all.
When Chuck pushes his father off the building in Gossip Girl with his girlfriend Blair the only terrified witness, they knew the authorities would come looking. So they got married the next day, because in the eyes of the law, no court can force you to testify against your spouse. That is how powerful the bond of marriage is, that your husband could commit murder, an act against man and nature and you’re not obligated to say a thing. Your right as a spouse is so significant that some other laws don’t apply to you.
And I’m sure we’ve all watched enough crime dramas to know that when someone is hospitalized and everyone and their mother rushes in to know more, the doctor always starts with, “Who here is family?” If you’re their spouse, you’re the first to get ushered into the room and if needed you make medical decisions that could potentially end their life. From two people who once never knew each other to bestowing them the rights only given to family and kin, marriage is man’s promise and proclamation of commitment but it is through the law, through a couple of flimsy papers, that it is made real when it counts. And I've gotta admit, that’s pretty damn cool.