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Yet marriage has its own dynamic, one that deepens bonds between spouses and forges links to kin and community. From time immemorial, parents have expressed ambivalence, even dismay, over their children's choice of spouse, yet have been won over, if not to the choice, then to the marriage and the stability it provides. Michael's mother, Kathy, is from the town of Buena Vista, Va. She was raised in a strict Brethren Church but now considers herself "spiritual." She has been married and divorced twice. "This is truly not what I expected to see in his marriage," she says of Michael, her only son. But she adds: "I hope this is going to be a stabilizing factor in his life, because he's been at loose ends for a long time."
Marriage creates kin, a process in evidence today. Laura, Jamie's onetime "monster mom," toasts the couple with the words, "I'm so happy to have a fourth son." Jamie's father says, "I've seen these two together enough to know that this is the kind of relationship that marriage is about." Times may change, and marriage may change, but parents are ever parents.
It is almost 5 p.m. The minister has given his blessing, invoking Solomon's song that many waters cannot quench love. "Remember this," he says, "remember this, remember this. Amen."
Then: "Before God and all present, do you, Michael, enter into this marriage with an open mind and heart and promise to love Jamie as long as you both shall live?" Michael firmly answers yes, and then Jamie, less steadily, gives the same answer, wiping away tears as he says, "Most importantly, I will work every day at loving you better." The minister calls for the rings, and laughter relieves sniffles as Jamie, flustered, offers his right hand.
That mistake corrected, the minister makes a pronouncement that I never thought I would live to hear. "By the authority vested in me by the state of Massachusetts, I declare that you, Jamie and Michael, are joined in the covenant of marriage, with the blessing of Christ's church. You may kiss."
They do. It is done.
© Copyright 2005 National Journal