A few years ago, I attended the wedding of a co-worker. Every word of the service was in the Vietnamese language. The service was beautiful, but I missed most of its meaning because I do not speak Vietnamese.
It seems to me that within a particular culture, marriage is like a language, having its own vocabulary, grammar, and dialects. There are people whose “first language” is the language of marriage. They learn it at a young age. The way the “marriage language” is organized makes sense to them — sequences of marriage, divorce, marriage, divorce, and so on.
As a Unitarian Universalist minister, I am delighted to officiate at marriage ceremonies or at union ceremonies for members of the congregation I serve. That role is important as an expression of the relationship between congregant and minister. However, when I am outside the role of minister, my “first language” is that of friendship, not of marriage. The way that friendships begin, evolve, sometimes end, but more often shift into another kind of friendship – that way of relating makes sense to me.
The vocabulary, grammar, and dialects of friendship have shaped my world view for decades. In particular, I am an advocate for singles, for people in non-traditional relationships, and for people who identify as bisexual. I am proud and honored to serve on the Alternatives to Marriage Project Board of Directors.
I live in southern California and enjoy bird watching and photography. I have recently started gardening with drought-tolerant plants. My formal education includes a B.A. in journalism from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, an MBA from Pepperdine University, and a Master of Divinity from Starr King School for the Ministry.
Ann Schranz is a contributing editor for the Unmarried Blog and a leader of AtMP’s strategic communications team.