Tomorrow, my wife and I begin a two-week vacation to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary (March 19th). Naturally, my mind is swirling with thoughts on marriage. I want to share one with you using the Spanish verbs for “to be”: ser and estar.
We use ser to speak of essential characteristics. For example:
- Somos filipinos. We are Filipinos.
- José es divertido. Jose is funny.
- Los Ticos son amables. Costa Ricans are kind.
On the other hand, estar is used to speak of a state or temporary condition. For example:
- Estaba en México. I was in Mexico.
- Sofía está enferma. Sofia is sick.
- La sopa está fría. The soup is cold.
Now, when speaking of marriage, what should we use–ser or estar? Is being married an essential characteristic (ser) or a temporary condition (estar)? Well, I subscribe to the biblical principle that marriage is permanent, that it could only be broken honorably in the sight of God through death. Jesus Christ said, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh?So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Matthew 19:5-6 NIV).
Therefore, it came as a surprise to me that the Spanish for “I am married” is usually, “Estoy casado.” Estar, not ser, is used. I asked some people here why they use estar, instead of ser (“Soy casado.”) to describe their civil status. I expected them to say that it is possible that your spouse might die ahead of you; when that happens, you would no longer be married. In this sense, being married is a temporary condition. Thus, I understand why estar is used.
However, that is not what they said. They do not see marriage to be a permanent relationship; divorce is an option. I know there are many reasons why people decide to get a divorce. However, could it be that 1 out of 2 marriages in this country end in divorce because the people use estar instead of ser? What do you think?
Well, this is what I believe. God joined me together with Dahl. Soy casado.