Jagged Edge's 'Let's Get Married' Remains the Best Song About Marriage

On Memorial Day, Jagged Edge and 112 joined forces for one of the now-ubiquitous Verzuz battles that have sprung up like kudzu from the fertile grounds of quarantine. While the battle was plagued by sound issues and watching two ’90s R&B stalwarts of the baby-making genre dance to their own music in a split-screen lost its appeal after a few songs, I tuned in yesterday just as the best song ever written about long-term commitment was playing: Jagged Edge’s “Let’s Get Married.”

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Ostensibly a love song, “Let’s Get Married” tells a relatable story about two people who decide that, for their relationship, marriage is an inevitability. The ballad version of the song captures some of the romantic longings that the lyrics elide, making it appropriate for the first dance at a wedding; but the remix, featuring Reverend Run of Run-DMC, is appropriate processional music for the wedding that I would have if I actually wanted to get married. Yes, I will walk down the aisle to this song about settling, and I’ll be happy to do it.

Absent any grand declarations of love, “Let’s Get Married” sounds like settling. But really, deciding to just do “it” already and get it over with is the truest expression of love: a capitulation to a future that both parties knew was coming. Consider the chorus:

Meet me in the altar in your white dress

We ain’t getting no younger, we might as well do it

Been feeling you all the while, girl, I must confess

Girl, let’s just get married

I just wanna get married

“We ain’t getting no younger, we might as well do it” isn’t a marriage proposal that’ll make it into the Vows section of the New York Times, but if marriage is something you desire, then maybe this sort of quiet resignation is suitable for wherever you’re at in life. The message of “Let’s Get Married” is similar to another song that celebrates the practicalities of love: Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young’s “Love the One You’re With” preaches a similar message but is somehow blunter. “If you can’t be with the one you love/love the one you’re with,” croons Stephen Sills over jaunty acoustic guitars and a peppy little chorus. While I understand that the rest of the lyrics are possibly encouraging cheating, the alternate read is that maybe the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Both songs are an attempt at rebranding the notion of settling, which, for women, is painted as a last-ditch effort at staving off a life of infinite loneliness. Storybook romances don’t exist in real life, and settling doesn’t have to be bad, especially when it’s just making the best of what life has to offer.

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While I don’t appreciate Jagged Edge’s demand that the woman in question meet the man at the altar, one assumes that this decision has been discussed in full and consent, obtained. I have never been married nor have I really felt the desire to do so, but the pragmatism of these lyrics really speaks to me. Marry someone that you can reasonably sit in a room with, in silence, for four hours. Marry for love, but also for companionship.

Senior Writer, Jezebel

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DISCUSSION

glanceaskance
GlanceAskance

To paraphrase The Princess Bride (the most flamboyantly unrealistic portrayal of romantic love, in the best possible way), “Marriage is settling, highness. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something.”

I would argue that “settling” is just a more negative word for compromise. When we don’t get everything we want, but we get most of it and we’re feeling pretty good, we call it a “compromise.” But when we don’t get everything we want and we’re feeling kind of shitty about it, we call it “settling.” Marriage requires both, and there are plenty of situations one partner would characterize as a “compromise” that the other would probably call “settling.” And of course there’s a lot of compromising / settling! All the time! Because you are trying to combine the lives of two people who will sometimes want different things.

And that’s ok! Because you get a hell of a lot in return for all that compromising / settling (stability, companionship, legal protections, family, sharing your life with someone who knows you well, and on and on). If I could go back twelve years with all the knowledge I have now, I’d still marry my husband. But keeping a marriage together involves a hell of a lot of compromise and a fair amount of settling. It’s the nature of the beast, and if you aren’t prepared to do that, you probably shouldn’t get married.