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Dear Doctor Love,
In October you gave some advice to a woman whose boyfriend would not take the last step in their relationship and marry her. Your answer was that she should accept the level of commitment he was willing to give her or break up and find a man who would sign on the dotted line. In your words, “The doctor likes to think that a marriage of the heart and mind is more important than the ring and the paper.”
I strongly disagree with your answer. There are a number of very important reasons why marriage is more than just a piece of paper and a ring. When a man and woman get married their feelings about each other do change. There is a deeper level of commitment that goes beyond just living together and it is evident in the way married couples refer to each other. Not as a partner, significant other or girlfriend/boyfriend, they are husband and wife and are bound together by name. They make a public declaration that they have chosen each other for life and at no other time in their lives will so many people come together to share in a celebration, except perhaps death. Marriage means that his family now becomes her family. His mother is now her mother-in-law and his father becomes her father-in-law. The family tree grows and strengthens with marriage. I believe that your answer should have included a simple observation—if is only a piece of paper what exactly is he so afraid of? It is because in his heart he knows it is far more than just a “piece of paper.”
Other readers disagreed with the Doctor’s advice on this subject. Here is another view:
Dear Doctor Love,
As a gay man, I disagree with your answer that marriage is just a ceremony and a piece of paper. The greatest day of my life was the day I could legally marry my husband and no longer had to refer to him as “my partner.” I could proudly stand and be joined with him in the eyes of the law and say the vows so long denied to the gay community. Interracial marriage was another hard-fought battle, finally won when in the year two-thousand the last U.S. State banning interracial marriage deemed the ban unconstitutional and accepted marriage between the races. You may think that it is just a piece of paper, but for those of us who have fought public opinion and federal governments to be allowed that right, it is sacred and special.