Marriage made a lot of sense years ago. Let’s go back to the Victorian Era, when most women didn’t have the same rights and roles as men, and were effectively “private property” a societal legacy that still influences our tradition of the bride walking down the aisle and taking her husbands last name.
Women needed financial security as they didn’t have access to the work force and men needed an heir. We prettied it up by calling it “love”
So does marriage still play a role now? Women don’t need financial security as women have the same rights as men and yes I agree the whole reproduction thing still exists but do we need to get married for this reason ?
This blog is about long term monogamous, cohabiting couples and I’m not comparing marriage to bachelorhood or single parents. Why are we still getting married?
There are 3 arguments to look at
- The Taxes argument
- The children argument
- The commitment argument
The taxes argument: usually isn’t valid. People mention this argument when they want to skip out of the emotional part of this and try and make them selves believe that they are making a logical decision. But most people don’t benefit from this.
The children argument: it’s said that a 2 parent home is better for kids. But there is nothing to say that the parents need to be married.
The commitment argument: wow, there is a lot in this one. A famous magazine wrote something once, and it went something like this “declaring your love in front of all your family and friends in a formal ceremony and signing your marriage license that seals the deal is meaningful” now let me translate that, it’s harder to leave when everyone identifies you as been part of a married couple.
Marriage has become a status symbol. This is evident in “same sex marriage” marriage is about external validation. The assumption that marriage not only gives them a bundle of rights but also a privileged position . People marry to show their family and friends how well their lives are going even if they know it’s not going to last forever. Unfortunately our desire for acceptance and respect in society runs that deep. People say they get married for security, it makes it more difficult to leave. But that’s false security as contracts can be broken. With security we get comfortable and when we get comfortable we get lazy, and we all know relationships take work and been lazy is top of the list why couples divorce. I know people will say ” we know this, relationships take work” and my response is “why the contract ? Who don’t you trust? You or your partner?
When people tell me that they marry for “love” that just translates to “I don’t want to be alone”
I would much rather leave the door open for my partner to come back because he wants to not because of a legal contract that says he had to.
We love things more when we call them “ours” you evaluate kitchen equipment more positively after you buy it. You evaluate your job more positively after you accept it. You evaluate your college more positively after you have been accepted. Gamblers evaluate their horses more positively after they leave the betting window rather than when they approach it, and voters evaluate their candidates more positively after they cast their vote. A kettle, a job, college, a horse and a TD are all just fine and dandy but when they become our kettle, job, college, horse and TD they are instantly finer and dandier. It’s like when you hear people say ” my wedding day was the happiest day of my life” it’s not about having married “the one” its about having married.
It’s a fact that if you commit to something orally or in writing your more likely to honor it.
So where are we? We recognize that we desire social acceptance, false sense of security and love things more after we call them ours. So the question is, what do we do? What does this mean for marriage? The answer I guess really depends on our goals and values. What makes us happy?
If you value social acceptance (with family, friends, professionals and or religious groups) then just get married and do whatever it takes to stay married. But if you value more deeper happiness then you have to take a more complex approach. If you think you can have both and only pursue one, your wrong unless you are defining “happiness” as “social acceptance”
Deeper happiness means that we know that they only thing we control is ourselves. And everything changes, people change. Contracts mean very little to the human spirit. Deeper happiness means we view people as people and not parts to complete the picture of “the perfect life”
What makes us happy is focusing on what we can control (which is ourselves) and committing (ourselves) to our partner and loving them hard every day.
The only thing we control is ourselves. Marriage is about commitment, but it does start and finish with our own. And after that we just need to respect our partners as their own person, separate from us who commit to us, but not by a contract but by choice.