- Marriage is waning in popularity in contemporary culture.
- The advantages previously associated with marriage — such as tax breaks, financial support, and stability for children — are no longer relevant in many circumstances.
- When making the decision whether or not to get married, disregard societal opinion and follow your instinct.
- Marriage made a lot of sense once upon a time. Mostly when women didn’t have the same roles and rights as men, and were effectively private property (a societal legacy that still influences our oddly-upheld traditions of a bride being “walked down the aisle” and taking her husband’s last name.)Women didn’t have access to the workplace, so needed financial security. Men had income, but needed heirs. The exchange was simple. (And during the Victorian era, we prettied it up a bit by convincing ourselves it was about “love,” too.)
We’ve come a long way. Women have equal rights and roles in the workforce, so they don’t need financial security anymore. And while folks might still be interested in reproduction, does marriage still play a role?
Please note: we aren’t comparing “marriage” to “bachelorhood” or “single parents,” and we aren’t using “marriage” as synonymous with “monogamy.”
This post is about longterm, monogamous, cohabiting couples — why are we still getting married?
There’s a difference between what we say — and why we actuallydo.
Because it is emotion-based — but the emotion isn’t “love.”
…So what are we left with?
Even once we recognize that we desire social acceptance and false senses of security, and love things more after we call them ours, it still begs the question: what should we do? What does this mean for marriage?
The answer depends on our goals — and values.
What makes us happy?
If you value social acceptance (especially among family and friends, but also professional and/or religious groups), then just get married. And do whatever it takes to stay married.
But if we value deeper happiness, then we have to take a more complex approach.
(If we think we can have both only pursuing one, we’re wrong — unless we define “happiness” as “social acceptance.”)
…Deeper happiness means we view people as people, not “parts” to “complete the picture” of a “perfect life.”