And then get divorced.
With the divorces rates being so high in the US (first marriage is 41% to 50%; the rate after second marriage is from 60% to 67% and the rate in America for 3rd marriage are from 73% to 74%*), you wonder why people bother getting married at all. Is it really as rewarding and fulfilling as they say and worth the risk and heart ache? Or is it just something we do because it’s always something we’ve done as a society?
In a recent article in the NYTimes called Breaking Free from the Nesting Doll a woman asks herself should she marry a man out of obligation. She met and fell in love with a man who had truly helped her through a bad time in her life, he truly was instrumental in her healing process; but does that mean she owes him a commitment for the rest of her life as repayment?
Maintaining a healthy relationship is far more important than having the title and benefits of the institution of marriage, especially if you are tied to a partner that just makes you miserable. And are we obligated to marry someone just because he or she has done us a service? Is it worth sacrificing our lives just to make someone else’s dreams come true? Or on the other hand is it right to ask someone to sacrifice their dreams in favor of yours? Isn’t marriage ultimately about creating a life together? But how do you discern between creating a new life and compromising your life in favor of the relationship?
So many people feel like because they were dating for a certain length of time, or lived together, or maybe they financially invested in someone, that marriage is owed or at least inevitable. Some get married for other altruistic reasons, and some for very selfish reasons.
In the US I think we get married for many reasons, many of which have nothing at all to do with actually wanting to share your life with the individual in question, or being in love, or even in a workable healthy relationship. So many of our reasons are generated from expectations, pressure from family, or society. And sometimes our reasons are just plain selfish. Here are a few of those reasons – none of them worthy mind you – I think people get married.
1- I just don’t want to be alone. Being with anyone is better than being with no one. Or so they think. They usually pick someone they can “tolerate” without having any real connection with them. You aren’t alone, but you are definitely lonely. This kind of marriage never produces the feelings you really want– a deep connection to the person with whom you share your body, your home, your finances, your spirit. You end up feeling more lonely living in such close proximity to another human being with whom you have no real connection. #marriedandlonely (Sadly, I’m sure there is a dating site or chat room for this.)
2- I won’t be broke. “Hey if we combine our income, resources, we’ll both get a head.” Right? Wrong!! If you marry someone with bad spending habits before you get married, they’ll just continue their spending with your money. Money is always among the top 5 reasons people get divorced. If you are getting married to improve your financial situation, you will probably get divorced for the same reason. #canyousayprenup
3- All my friends are married, and I’m tired of being a 5th wheel. I’d rather be a happy 5th wheel than a part of a miserable broken down wagon. Marriage is work. Anyone who tells you differently hasn’t ever been married. I knew a woman who said one of the most compelling reasons she got married was because everyone else made it seem so great. All the women in her life made their marriages seem like heaven on earth. Her marriage has been 5 years of living hell and she’s still not sure they are going to make it. It’s like your mama said, “If all your friends jumped off a cliff would you?” #fifthwheelsoftheworldunite
4- I want to have kids. This one I can understand because being a single parent can suck (ask me how I know this?). At the same time, my daughter, myself, and her father are much healthier, loving people than we would have been if he and I stayed married just for her. And he and I have a really great relationship which would not have been possible had we stayed in the relationship. Ultimately if you are a healthy well-adjusted human being, then your children will be too. And while statistically children are more successful when they come from dual parent families, children reared by healthy, happy, single parents are far more successful than children raised in a household filled with neglect, suppression, anger, bitterness, and resentment from parents who just want out and can’t leave until junior is 18. #I’mtrappedundersomethingheavy
5- Even though we aren’t right for each other I love him/her and our love will make it work. This one is probably the most common one. People don’t get married planning their divorce. The genuinely believe love is enough. And I believe if it’s a mature love, it can be. Real love can overcome almost anything. But these days everyone is hoping for some kind of fairy tale love which is ok as long as it’s Shrek and Fiona love, not Cinderella love. Shrek and Fiona have problems. They have to make adjustments. They aren’t always “happy.” They are worried, angry, scared, irritated and confused, just like in real life. Cinderella just rides off with the prince and we never know the end of the story. Did they stay together, does it work out? You don’t know. What they tell us is “and they lived happily ever after.” Come on! They were married!! Is that actually possible? #Idon’tbelieveinfairytales
6- Everyone expects me to get married. Marriage is a responsibility. Take it seriously. Starting with actually choosing marriage as something you want; or having the balls (metaphorically speaking) to say this isn’t for me. “But won’t people think I’m weird?” Nope. They’ll admire your courage for doing something they wish they’d done 2 divorces ago. I know plenty of women and men who have come to terms with not actually wanting to be married and they live very fulfilling lives. #peerpressureisabitch
7- I won’t have to be “out there” anymore. This is probably the worst. And I totally get it. Dating can wear you out and wear you down. It takes energy. It takes courage. And frankly you really just want don’t want to work so hard anymore. You’re tired of dating, of trying to have meaningful conversation; tired of dressing up for a date or paying for a date; tired of trying to find someone with whom you can spend quality time, instead of just killing time. You just want to relax, be comfortable and be yourself. So you pick someone. You get married. Only to realize marriage isn’t always comfortable. And you still have to do all the things you did when you were dating. In fact, back then you could say you had plans, stay home and watch the game, or for the ladies, have a hot bath, go to the spa. Now you realize that this is even more work than being single. And not only that, there is more at stake. You whole life is wrapped up in this marriage, not to mention the family you’ve created. You now understand why the best couples still do all the things they did when they were dating. It’s one of the ways they keep their marriage sexy, hot, romantic. Getting married is not the end of all the work, it’s the beginning. And now you think “out there” was so much better than “in here”. Wrong. Being “out there” or “in here” takes work. Dating or married, each requires time, attention and effort if you want the relationship to be successful. #relationshipstakework
I make jokes and I’ve been a bit cheeky about marriage, but I am a huge advocate of marriage, provided people start with a healthy foundation. No relationship is perfect, but your marriage stands a better chance of beating the odds when two mature people come together committed to being the best versions of themselves, and creating a lasting and loving partnership based upon love, mutual respect, shared values, and most importantly a deep commitment to one another.