I have the Recorded Books Inc. unabridged production of Lord of the Rings, and frequently listen to it (now on my iPod, so I don’t have to change disks) while I do housework and make meals.
This exchange, begun by Elrond as the fellowship of the ring is about to set out from Rivendell, has frequently come to mind when I hear the “optional-ness” of marriage discussed:
“The further you go, the less easy it will be to withdraw; yet no oath or bond is laid upon you to go further than you will. For you do not yet know the strength of your hearts, and you cannot foresee what each may meet upon the road.”
“Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens,” said Gimli.
“Maybe,” said Elrond, “but let him not vow to walk in the dark, who has not seen the nightfall.”
“Yet sworn word may strengthen quaking heart,” said Gimli.
“Or break it,” said Elrond. “Look not too far ahead.”
As may be expected I definitely fall hard on the side of Gimli’s reasoning. Especially when looking at the adventure of a lifelong partnership.
To Elrond’s rebuttal (were he truly arguing about marriage) I’d respond that as my heart is going to be broken either way, I’ll go with that most likely to shore it up– rather than break it down. That is, every ending is painful. Why not take what care we can to strengthen what we’ve begun?