Getting Married? You Haven’t Accomplished Anything



Olivia Wieseler | Contributing Writer

“I do” is one of the most celebrated phrases in the history of humanity.  Marriage is exciting; it’s special.  But is it an accomplishment?  Natalie Brooke, a writer for the Huffington Post, argues that it is not in her article, “Getting Married is Not an Accomplishment,” and I agree with her.  Now, before all of you start criticizing my agreement with Brooke’s statement, let me ask you a question.  Are any of you aware of what the word accomplishment actually means?  The Merriam-Webster Dictionary gives three definitions:  1) “a special skill or ability gained by practice or training,” 2) “something done, achieved, or accomplished successfully,” and 3) “the successful completion of something.”  None of these definitions apply to marriage.

The first definition, “a special skill or ability gained by practice or training,” quite obviously doesn’t fit the bill.  As Brooke says in her article, “You don’t have to have a brain, drive, or special skill set to get married.  You just have to have a willing partner.”  Marriage is not a particular skill to become good at.  One might argue, “What about all the classes and marriage training couples go through before they get married?”  This is a valid point.  However, these classes are not preparing you for a wedding; they’re training you for life with another person.  And let’s face it, no matter how much marriage training a couple goes through, no one is ever “good” at being married.

The second definition of accomplishment, “something done, achieved, or accomplished successfully,” is a little tougher to argue.  One could simply say, “I successfully got married; therefore, it is an accomplishment.”  However, one of the key words in this definition is achieved.  No one walks around saying, “I achieved marriage.”  That is like saying one achieves a certain status.  Just because Facebook allows marriage as a status, doesn’t make it one.  It is not considered upper-class or lower-class.  It is not a job or career.  It is an agreement between two people to love each other’s whole self until the day they die.

The final definition, “the successful completion of something,” is the most significant in separating marriage from the idea of accomplishment.  Marriage is not complete once you walk back down the aisle.  It is not complete after you come back from your honeymoon.  It is not complete after you have been married for fifty plus years.  It doesn’t end after some point.  Marriage is an eternal commitment to your partner.  That ring you put on your finger?  That is a symbol of everlasting love.  One does not “complete” marriage.  It is an on-going responsibility that should endure until the end of your days.

Now, I’m not saying that all the little obstacles that a couple overcomes before and after the wedding day aren’t accomplishments.  Being able to raise your kids or conquer financial burdens takes hard work, dedication, and skill.  Those are definitely accomplishments worth observing.  However, the very act of getting married, although a clearly celebratory event, is not an actual accomplishment.  It is not something that can be performed and then pushed off to the side.  It is more than that.

There are many words in the English language that are misunderstood and accomplishment is one of them.  Many people use this word for any celebratory event.  While most accomplishments are worth celebrating, not all celebrations are for accomplishments.  Marriage is one of these.  So be excited if you or someone you know gets engaged.  Just know that it’s not a successfully completed task.  You will have plenty of those to celebrate once you are married.

Photo by Kylee Deering