“Until death do us part” is becoming “until death do I part,” as one more way to undermine the sacredness of marriage. In a traditional marriage, selfishness is the kiss of death, but in a self-centered society that kind of marriage only stands in the way of me, me me!
While hardly an actual trend, self-marriage is happening. It was in 2003 in the Netherlands that it first made the news, when Jennifer Hoes married herself. In 2006, Jennifer explained what kind of partner she is to herself in the blog Art and Perception: “My wedding ring says, ‘I will return to my heart every time.’ I read this every day. I think the values to an individual life are pretty much the same as in a marriage, it is about how you’ll behave, about taking responsibility, about being a loving person.” Jennifer recently celebrated her ninth wedding anniversary.
In November of 2010, Chen Wei-yih married the love of her life—herself. The China Post reported that the thirty-year-old office worker no longer considered herself single after the ceremony attended by thirty of her friends and family. Chen explained, “I was just hoping that more people would love themselves.” She even honeymooned with herself in Australia.
Last March, Nadine Schweigert, 36, from Fargo, North Dakota, read her marital vows in front of forty of her closest friends: “I, Nadine, promise to enjoy inhabiting my own life and to relish a lifelong love affair with my beautiful self.”
Nadine appeared recently on Anderson Cooper’s talk show to explain why she married herself. When her husband left and her two children decided to go with him, she decided that instead of wallowing in self-pity she would be satisfied with just herself. She held a wedding ceremony complete with wedding presents.
Also appearing on the show was Brad Wilcox, Director of the National Marriage Project, who explained that marriage is not a solo act but about bringing two different people together. “I think, regrettably, Nadine’s a bit confused. She’s kind of the poster child for what’s wrong in our culture when it comes to marriage.”
Catholics would take it further and define marriage as specifically about bringing one man and one woman together. Self-marriages are not marriages in the eyes of God, any more than same-sex unions can ever be.
In spite of the nice-sounding explanations people may give for self-marriage, there are two important ingredients missing: God, and a person of the opposite sex. Ultimately, the goal of self-love is to totally give of ourselves to God and to others. Thus, we must die to ourselves and empty ourselves so that we can fill our hearts with the love of God. In a Catholic marriage, love is to be shared and we must be willing to put the other person before ourselves. A self-marriage, on the other hand, allows no interference from others.
Marriage is a sacred, life-long, conjugal covenant entered into between God and one man and one woman. The Administrative Committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in their defense of marriage has stated, “Marriage is a faithful, exclusive and lifelong union between one man and one woman, joined as husband and wife.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that this love opens the possibility to the couple that new souls will spring forth from their union. “By its very nature, the institution of marriage and married love is ordered to the procreation and education of the offspring and it is in them that it finds its crowning glory” (1652). While marriage does not always result in the procreation of children, “Spouses to whom God has not granted children can nevertheless have a conjugal life full of meaning, in both human and Christian terms. Their marriage can radiate a fruitfulness of charity, of hospitality, and of sacrifice” (1654).
Strong marriages make for strong families and strong societies. It is a symptom of a weakened society that marriage is under attack. There is some hope in remembering that the idea of same-sex marriages initially evoked a majority response of “No way!” We can only hope and pray that this latest distortion of marriage does not catch on.