Top 5 Reasons Not to Get Married.

Via Krystal Baugher
on Feb 8, 2011
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rules happy marriage

“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

When I go back home for the holidays it doesn’t take long to run into a surly relative or an old friend who feels the need to ask,

“When are you getting married?”

To which I always reply,

“I’m not.”

Yes, I have been with my partner for almost five years.

Yes, I love him.

But guess what I don’t love..? Marriage.

Here are 5 Reasons I’m Not Getting Married.

1) The Pains of Patriarchy

I, for some reason, agreed to be in my best friend’s wedding (and no, it doesn’t turn out anything like the Julie Roberts movie).

I thought that if I could respect her decision to marry she could respect my decision not to, but I forgot about all the other people who go to those sorts of things. I’m sitting next to her dad while photos are being taken. He leans over and asks the dreaded question, “So, when will it be your turn?” I reply that I have no plans to do such a thing. He says, “Oh, you just haven’t met the right guy yet.”

Right. I’ve just been hanging out with some dude for the last four years that I only sort-of kind-of like. And until Mr. Put-a-Ring-On-It comes riding up on his white stallion to take me away, well, this other dude will have to do. (?!?)

And then my best friend’s dad walks her down the aisle and “gives her away.” Like what happens in every traditional wedding ceremony.

This ritual, both historically and symbolically, gives the woman away as if she is a piece of property that a man is privileged enough to own.

A man’s hand to another man’s hand.

And we continue to do this ritual even though it’s saturated with inequality and starts off the marriage unbalanced.

Don’t even get me started on certain sayings like “man and wife,” which allows the man to be whatever he wants but labels the woman immediately to one specific role.

I don’t find it necessary to participate or support this type of institution (I no longer attend weddings, either). And though many married people have chosen alternatives to these traditions and rituals, when one says they are “married” it carries the weight of patriarchy whether the couple wants it to or not—as well as the weight of sexual acceptability.

As Judith Butler says in her book Undoing Gender,

“For a progressive sexual movement, even one that may want to produce marriage as an option for non-heterosexuals, the proposition that marriage should become the only way to sanction or legitimize sexuality is unacceptably conservative.”

By participating in marriage I feel as if I would be taking part in legitimatizing and accepting the power dynamics that already exist—the power dynamics that keep us all oppressed. And why would I want to do that?


2)  I must find my prince and ride off into the sunset?

When I was a little girl I never dreamed of the picture perfect wedding. When I closed my eyes I didn’t see a big puffy white dress—nope, not me. In my fantasy I was decked out in a blue sequin mini-dress. My long blonde hair flew wild to the beat of loud music. I was surrounded by beautiful people—everyone loving me, me loving everyone. I don’t know why I never pictured myself in a big fluffy white dress. I guess I thought they were ugly. And I thought being a rock star would be more interesting than being a wife. But many little girls do dream (and dream and dream) of the perfect wedding day (if you ever watch TLC, examples abound).

photo <> Guilherme Tavares

The idea of finding our “one true love” is embedded in us all from a very early age. Watch any Disney movie, see the princess being saved by the prince, followed by the “happily ever after” marriage. (Because in fairy tale land, life ends after the “I do’s”.)

In shoptalk, we feminists call this heterosexual normativity—the practice of encouraging people to fit within heterosexual strict standards of being monogamous, married, usually protestant/Christian, usually white, usually middle/upper class while shunning and making feel guilty those who do not. Examples of heteronormativity are everywhere from Hallmark cards to sitcoms to algebra questions to pop music… Though there is absolutely nothing wrong with woman/man love, of course, what is wrong is making it out to be the only thing that’s right.

One of my favorite theorists, Gayle Rubin, writes in “Thinking Sex,”

“Most of the discourses on sex, be they religious, psychiatric, popular, or political, delimit a very small portion of human sexual capacity as sanctifiable, safe, healthy, mature, legal, or politically correct. The ‘line’ distinguishes these from all other erotic behaviours, which are understood to be the work of the devil, dangerous, psychopathological, infantile, or politically reprehensible. Arguments are then conducted over ‘where to draw the line’, and to determine what other activities, if any, may be permitted to cross over into acceptability.”

These sorts of power dynamics keep people from reaching their true potential and restrict people from enjoying life to its fullest degree.

In other words, I’m looked down upon because I just want to wear my blue sequin mini and “whip my hair back and forth” instead of fulfilling my duty to be “princess” for a day (and wife for my life).

Marriage is the pinnacle of heteronormativity, and I don’t feel comfortable supporting it. Though I am currently with a “man,” not getting married is one way we keep our relationship “queered.”


3) Monogamy, Monotony

My grandparents on my mother’s side have been married for 50 years. My grandmother on my father’s side has been married 13 different times.

I don’t believe that everyone is monogamous, or that everyone should be. I think the world would be a much more beautiful place if we were all more accepting and open to other ways of love.

photo <> Katia Dametto

Supposedly around 50% of marriages end in divorce, and the percentage gets even bigger by the second marriage.

So, let me just reinforce this point: half of the people who tie the knot end up needing to untie it later—and usually it’s a really tight knotty knot that is difficult and expensive to untangle.

And I’m the weirdo for not wanting to be a part of that?

People get married because they’re told over and over again that this is the way it’s done, and yet over and over again it isn’t being done right (and obviously not for the right reasons).

Why do marriages fail? Perhaps they weren’t supposed to be together forever to begin with, perhaps they’re too limiting, perhaps the couple lacked necessary communication skills, perhaps the love juices ran out, perhaps…

Perhaps it’s because the institution of marriage is not for everyone.

And it’s about time we all accept it, and accept the people who don’t want to do it—even and especially if we happen to be one of those people.

4) Benefits for Whom?

Too many people I know have gotten married for the benefits. And I’m not talking about the benefits of a long loving relationship; I’m talking about literal benefits, such as health care.

Isn’t it gross that the health care system in America functions in a way that requires its citizens to maintain a heteronormative lifestyle in order to utilize it fully?

Kathleen Hanna, poster-grrrl for the riot grrrl movement, a 90’s feminist *F*-the-establishment movement, got married for the insurance. This breaks my heart.

I don’t think health care should be a high priority for a major decision like marriage.

It sort of comes off as a nonchalant choice—like egh, why not, it will save us $500 a year, might as well.

photo <> Francis Bijl

But what is most disturbing is the fact that the state legitimizing people who are married over everyone else. Because married couples get better benefits, marriage itself becomes justifiable (even if half of marriages end). As Butler says,

“The state becomes the means by which a fantasy becomes literalized: desire and sexuality are ratified, justified, known, publicly instated, imagined as permanent, durable. And, at that very moment, desire and sexuality are dispossessed and displaced, so that what one “is” and what one’s relationship “is,” are no longer private matters.”

When one marries for benefits one basically says, “yes state, you can control me and my sexuality.”

Yes, being able to see the one you love in the hospital is important, yes health care is important, yes tax reduction is wonderful, yes property ownership is grand, but why can’t we all have these benefits? Why do people who supposedly find their “one and only,” get that over people who may not, or can’t, or don’t want to?


5) *F* the Children

Politicians have been using “in the name of the children” for decades now. “What about the children?” “The future is our children.” Blah blah. When they use “children” in these statements they are not talking about living breathing walking (crawling) children, they’re discussing them figuratively. They’re discussing them so as to pull citizens’ heartstrings and get them to vote a particular way. But can the idea of “the children” ever really end? Isn’t it absurd to use “the children” as a scapegoat for influencing moral authority?

In “The Future is Kid Stuff” Lee Edelman writes,

“That figural Child alone embodies the citizen as an ideal, entitled to claim full rights to its future share in the nation’s good, though always at the cost of limiting the rights “real” citizens are allowed.”

We’re all really sensitive about our children, but guess what? We arethe children, your parents are the children, your grandparents are the children. When will we do what’s right for us instead of for some hypothetical person who hasn’t been born yet?

Why do we continue to behave in a manner that we don’t really like just because that’s the way it’s been done in the past? I don’t think any child would appreciate that if she or he knew.

And what about the children?

They think, they learn, they grow.

They are not innocent vessels of pure moral order…and even if they were, pretending that marriage is the only right way to live creates unhealthy boundaries that repress their sexuality and subvert their desires into a social order that is not necessarily moral or ethical.

So, I don’t want to get married for the children: true living breathing walking (crawling) children deserve to understand that love doesn’t have to be the same for everyone and it’s okay to follow your heart, to explore, to enjoy life and all the strange beautiful people in it.

This is just the beginning. Interested in more?

Suggested Reading:

Judith Butler, Undoing Gender

Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy, The Ethical Slut

Lee Edelman, “The Future is Kid Stuff” in the book No Future

Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality

bell hooks, All About Love: New Visions

Gerda Lerner, The Creation of Patriarchy

Gayle Rubin, “Thinking Sex”

Riki Wilchins, Queer Theory, Gender Theory

Editor’s Note: there are other perspectives:

11 Reasons Why I’m Getting Married (Again). 


Love starts with us, first:


About Krystal Baugher

Krystal Baugher lives in Denver. She earned her MA in Writing and Publishing and her MA in Women and Gender Studies from DePaul University/Chicago. She is the creator of Mile High Mating, a website dedicated to helping people "do it" in Denver and beyond. You can find her on facebook and twitter (as long as you aren’t a stalker).


159 Responses to “Top 5 Reasons Not to Get Married.”

  1. elephantjournal says:

    Actually, you're not. I've never heard of you and I don't have a youtube account. So, nice try. –Krystal B

    • elephantjournal says:

      Krystal, sorry you have to get such comments. This article is worth debating, contemplating…but not condemning. Thanks so much for it! ~ Waylon

    • valy says:

      right on sister !! Im 100 %, no 200% with you on that !!

    • PDAM says:

      I'd say the complaints against marriage here are valid, but neglect to point out the legal minefield marriage has become for men. It is matrimony (not patrimony) and as such is a matriarchal tradition. Modern laws make men either non-essential or essential only for the sake of income garnishment, or make men criminally culpable for non violent issues of discord, and violate all aspects of civil liberty in the process. Bottom line is, modern feminism is a political movement, not an equality movement, and family law is rotten with sexist/feminist jurisprudence.

  2. These are certainly valid issues that make a lot of sense … well worth considering before getting married. From my own experience, I often did and still do things that don't make sense … fall for someone or something and act like an exuberant idiot, for instance, has been a recurring theme. After dating my (now) wife for a while, I started to feel a weird, inner drive to want to have children with her – to have something that would live beyond me. This was another admittedly irrational impulse, but – like so many before – felt right for me. I've discovered that marriage is an ordeal … you have to endure the many issues that you cite (plus butt-loads more crap) – all the while – many years & decades worth – each person continues to grow, often in opposing directions. Marriage really doesn't make a lot of sense … perhaps moreso when you want to have children together … BUT, over time, when you stick it out with someone for many years through thick-n-thin, you discover a quiet joy and pride in giving, enduring, sacrificing, caring, forgiving etc. that feels pretty nice … not super passionate and thrilling, but warm and reassuring. Yoga helps – A LOT. You make a lot of very valid arguments, but don't be surprised if one day in savasana, you feel an irrational feeling to have a family and get married. You might find the "ordeal" of marriage fulfilling – but only when you ignore all the facts. C'est la vie!

  3. Joe Sparks says:

    Complete freedom of decision offers us the opportunity to direct our own lives by making our own choices rather than being enforced by patterned behavior based on old messages of distress or based on the functioning of oppression in the current oppressive society.
    Any person of any age, given accurate information, can make a rational decision, and every person is always free to choose for himself or herself the viewpoint that he or she will take towards any situation and is free to change that viewpoint whenever she or he wishes.
    It is our inherent human nature to view unsolved problems as interesting challenges rather than insurmountable difficulties.

  4. Nice article!

    With regard to rule #1, I think you've got it backwards. Its usually the woman who really wants to get married and once you're locked in, its all about the matriarchy, not the patriarchy.

  5. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by anniegirl1138, said: Why I don't want to get married. . . #elej […]

  6. Lele says:

    I've read several of your books listed (a Communications graduate here) and love your article. While I am not a huge fan of marriage (or monogamy) I respect those who are and hope they can respect my position as well.

  7. Heather Kahan says:

    (I wrote this on facebook, but I might as well write it here as well)

    Another top reason not to give $$ to EJ 🙁 I get not getting married…I have friends who are not married, a relative with a child who is living with her (male) partner and not married…to each her own. But this reads like an angry young woman who is in her first year at (insert women's college of choice). It reads as emotional; not well thought out. If you want to get married in a blue sequin dress, do it (I got married in a maternity dress). No one is telling you you HAVE to get married in white chiffon! As for point #1, shouldn't let other people's expectations (or societiys') dictate what you do with your life – especially when it's something like marriage. So what about what your bff's dad said? It really matters that much? As for monogamy – many marriages aren't…again, don't let the expectation of the "normal" dictate what you should do. As for insurance – that I agree with; but that's a problem with the American health care system, not the institution of marriage. And as to children – again, don't need marriage to have children, nor do you have to have children once you are married.

    All of this seems very simple – it's a personal choice. Get married if you want to, if you don't want to, then don't. And…FTR…I don't think my husband and I have ever referred to ourselves as "man and wife" lol!

  8. Bartleby says:

    I highly doubt I'll end up married. On the one hand, it sounds boring. I live a rather semi-nomadic life; I'm moving around a lot. The idea of marriage…being tied to one post like a dog…just not pleasant. On top of that, no one in my family, neither the men nor the women, has had a happy marriage. In fact, a decent number of the men have at least two divorces under their belts. Auspicious, no?

    • Brazzell says:

      While I respect and completely understand people's choice to not want to marry and will whole hardheartedly admit it is not easy or for everyone. Boring is one thing my marriage is NOT. Just as we can choose to not marry we can choose marriage and not have it be some one size fits all definition of what marriage is. My spouse and I have been married for 13 years and our relationship is constantly evolving. We've lived in California, Arizona, Mexico, and now South Korea. We spend most of our summers living outdoors biking, rafting and hiking. This summer we plan to move back to the U.S. buy mountain bikes and do some more bike touring with our 6 year old son. We live a fairly nomadic life as well. Anyway, I just wanted to point out that not every married couple wants a home with a picket fence, 2.5 children, and sit around watching television every night. Not that there's anything wrong with that either. Just also not a choice that I would desire.

  9. 13thfloorelevators says:

    It might be interesting to compose a list of reasons to get married. I suspect it would expose something worth thinking about.

    • elephantjournal says:

      Great suggestion. Would you like to? In any case, I'll find someone. I'd love to hear reasons to get married, after this! ~ Waylon

      • chloe says:

        * reasons to get married:
        1.) the commitment can be stronger. this was proved to me when watching fear factor once, they had committed couples and non-committed couples, and the committed ones performed better in their obstacles. They went the distance for their partner. But this is obviously possible without technically getting "married". You can have a commitment ceremony or whatever and still have that without going through the state. II think if we weren't married, we might have left each other because it would have been too easy, and for that, I'm glad we dived in to the traditional commitment. But it made sense for us. And for me, coming from a single parent home, I felt that marriage was an extra security measure that I personally wanted and needed.
        2.) It might be more feminist in a weird kind of way. (gasp! what?, I know). You have more rights to assets, kids, etc, etc if you're married. It's like not getting insurance for disasters. If shit hits the fan, you have more rights on many levels. Yes, boring, not passionate, but at the end of the day it's nice knowing. When you're domestic partners, I'm not sure how that works out in the court, especially with kids involved.
        3.) You can be married and have creative arrangements, like sister wives(polygamy), or open marriages(polyamorous). Assuming all of us married folk have the same construct is pretty close minded, like assuming that all lesbians never want to get married. Either way it's a box that no one wants to live in. We all have our battles to fight against the system, and this just isn't one of mine. I never really envisioned myself married growing up, with a single parent who was majorly burned from the whole experience, and who voiced this often. For me, it's a non-issue. I was single most of my life, but whenever I do something, I want to do it all the way, and marriage feels like taking it all the way, not holding anything back.

      • Shelley says:

        I recently read a definition of marriage as a place of nourishment for two who are out climbing life's mountains and slaying dragons. It is a comforting image to me.

      • Shelley says:

        Although it doesn't take a marriage to have a long term sexually exclusive relationship, I believe that sex can get better and better over time. It doesn't have to get boring.

    • lovisemoonlight says:

      The internet is filled with bitterness! I tried looking on youtube "Why should I get married" and I got two relevant results. The others were Why I should NOT.

      I wish someone for once would write something good about it….as someone who is getting married in next week this is really depressing.

      • Anne says:

        Marriage is amazing, if you marry the right person! I got married last year for the first time at 35 in a small, secular ceremony in the presence of family and close friends, in fact, we had a mutual friend officiate. There was no "man and wife" or "obey" at our wedding! I still have strong friendships and so does he. We are both independent with similar and also separate interests that we nourish together as well as independently. He empowers me, and I do the same for him. I get to share all my joys and triumphs, and well as my trials, with my best friend….with all the legal protections that marriage allows. In fact, some companies offer incredible incentives to not only their employees, but their spouses as well. Also, there is just something, to me, that is comforting about being married. What's mine is his, and what's his is mine….including our nephew (my sister's son) who idolizes my husband and whom my husband is helping through a very difficult time in his young life. Overall, It's nice being a family, both emotionally but also legally, and there's NOTHING wrong with that. Congratulations to you, and I wish you many years of love and light with your future spouse!!

  10. DLR says:

    I never ever wanted to be married. I had three long-term relationships and never even thought of marriage or kids except in a dismissive, judgemental way. A staunchly so-called feministand woman's studies devotee, I didn't want to buy into the system – just like the author of this article. Marriage and patriarchy was NEVER going to get me, never.

    BUT…ne day I met a man, and within one hour, I wrote an email to my three best friends and told them I had just met the man I would marry. This email was read at my wedding three years later by one of those friends who thought that someone had hacked into my email account and written those vile words – they could not believe it was really from me. But it was, and I was right. Now I'm divorced and am with someone else who I am planning to marry. If you have not been married you cannot know this, but marriage IS different from cohabitation, and not just in all the negative ways mentioned in the article. It can be different in some amazing, spiritual ways as well and it is for these reasons that I no longer judge marriage and those who choose to partake in it. A healthy, spiritual marriage is a thing of beauty.

  11. Kayla says:

    I used to feel this way – then something in my head just clicked one day – it had nothing to do with health care, or benefits, or children. For me, it was the ritual of making the decision more permanent. Only took us 6 years. I think marriage started out that way, especially in other cultures, as a way to lay claim on your chosen one.

    • Ali says:

      it's better to KNOW than to think. Marriage was a bartering system, usually paired with two cows or a goat, whatever the brides family could add to the girl/female's estate value to be 'bought' and owned by the man.

  12. steve says:

    plus, WHY bring the church and state into your relationship? I'm 47 and have never been married and will never be married..

    • Teenie says:

      What church? Never heard of a secular ceremony?

      • elephantjournal says:

        But the state, too? Lawyers and all?

        • Teenie says:

          There were no lawyers involved in my wedding. I think maybe you are talking about divorce? Or prenups? Prenups aren't a requirement to get married…
          The "state's involvement" has only applied in verifying our relationship admittedly ridiculous ways, like health care (which I agree is silly) and renting a car (where my husband was free to drive the car without ever showing them id, proof of employment, or even having to be present).
          I will echo what others have said. Get married, don't get married. Think that it's silly, or don't. It's optional, after all. But don't act like there's only one way to get married or be married, or that we can't decide what it means to us and how it will play a role in our lives. I'll never act like marriage is the only way to validate your relationship or have a healthy one. Or that you even need to have a relationship at all.

  13. As most of my relatives are extremely conservative fundamentalist Christians, I tend to view any wedding that doesn't include lengthy dissertations on Biblical injunctions regarding wives obeying their husbands as refreshingly progressive. Nonetheless, I did find it very strange recently to see a very socially conscious friend asking his even more socially conscious girlfriend's hardcore left-wing father for permission to marry her….

  14. Rebecca says:

    I've been with my live-in boyfriend for almost three years, and we're perfectly happy as a committed, united un-married couple. However, I think the arguments above are a bit of a stretch. In regards to the ceremony, it is certainly well within the right of a bride to choose NOT to include the "giving away" of herself in her own wedding. People just need to take a moment and think outside the traditional, expensive and frivolous box a bit. As for the second query, what's wrong with flipping your hair, rockin' that mini-dress and pulling Mr. Rock Star up on the horse with you? A wedding, AND a marriage, are what you make them to be, not what someone else tells you they should be. #3…monogamy is not monotonous to some of us. A good number of people (50% by your reckoning) find happiness with their spouse and are content to allow that to grow over time and space, as opposed to bouncing around in a "free love" world. As to the other two, well, if you have your own insurance, then you don't need a spouse, and children are a choice, not a requirement. However, if you do have them, you damn well better take care of them…BOTH parents…married or otherwise. All that being said, I think the idea of the feminist movement missed the mark a bit: rather than having women wholly and completely separate and/or superior to men, how might it be if we were alongside, as friends/partners/lovers/equals, braving the world and living our own unique lives? I seriously doubt a little piece of paper is going to change anyone's mind about that!

  15. elephantjournal says:

    Via FB:

    This is a very interesting article and I like the way it deconstructs our notions of how/why people in our society pair off. My only critique is that the statistic about divorce is presented incorrectly. It's true that 50% of marriages end,… but fewer people are getting married, so it's not actually a greater number of marriages that are ending. Also, couples who co-habit before marriage have higher break-up rates, so heads up. Although obviously if you're deconstructing the notion anyways this probably does not affect you. I think a lot more research is being done in this field now that we are, thankfully, moving more toward ending discrimination against nontraditional unions.
    Katherine C: Those tax "benefits" are a myth and generally only benefit single income or low income families. If you have two incomes of sufficient amount and for example no children therefore fewer write offs, you are actually bumped into a higher tax bracket and a larger percentage of your income will be taken. Whereas if you both filed single status, each individual would have to earn more as individuals to reach those higher tax brackets.

    PB: Most of those reasons could be the basis for an argument to get married as often as possible!

    • Thea says:

      As a married person. I can attest that we were basically "fined" for being DINKS (dual incomer earners no kids). We were taxed less when we were single.

      If you are still looking for someone to write a blog on the true positives of marriage no one ever tells you about. Let me know. It's a story of 2 feminists yoking (yes my husband/life partner is more of a feminist than I).

  16. JimWilton says:

    I agree with the comments above. Citing divorce rates is a very shaky argument against marriage. What, in fact, is the measure of a "failed" marriage?

    I do think that there is something to the concept of a vow. Some Buddhist ceremonies I have seen use the Mahayana vow (pledging to put others first) as a model for marriage ceremonies. That type of a commitment seems to me to have value — and to be more profound than the romantic concept of "soul mates" or two people who are "made for each other".

    And if you make a vow like that — does wishing the best for your wife mean that you can never divorce? Or if you make that type of vow and break it (lose your temper, act with cruelty, drift apart) — is that better than never taking the vow?

    I don't really disagree with a choice not to marry. I've just been pretty lucky with my marriage. And I like the idea of imperfect people making vows.

  17. Aaron says:

    Hey we discussed your article on our podcast!!!

  18. AMO says:

    A well written piece about a real sea change occurring in the way we think about relationships. I enjoyed this read and will keep it to email to people when I don't have time to explain myself. What I don't get is where the readers are getting hate? I don't see it. I see nothing in this essay that indicates this woman hates anyone. If you feel hated for being married when you read this you have a problem that is internal because it isn't coming from her. She doesn't sound angry. She sounds clear and thoughtful and serious, and yes, a little righteous, but that's OK, someone needs to take a stand. My read is that the thing she's angry about is people dismissing the choice she is making and expecting her to choose according to their values. A lack of a marriage ISN'T a lack of values, it isn't a "lack" at all. It is a different set of values. It isn't choosing NOT to do something, it's CHOOSING to do something else.

    My partner and I reject the hetero-normative monogamous rule. We understand this confusing for some people. Your confusion is NOT an indication that I've made a poor choice. I've made just the perfect choice for me, and soon, very soon I hope, my partner will be able to get affordable health care and visit me in the hospital and get a tax break for sharing a house. I hope those things will happen for the 3 elderly lesbians who live next door too, and the gay couple with a baby and a dog on the other side, and the married couple across the street. We all have a right to make our own choices. How different life and love would be if people were allowed to choose without judgment any lifestyle they feel drawn to.

    "I have a dream" of an America where all personal choices are honored as equally valid…

  19. Cecilia Gomez says:

    There are many different options that apply to many different cultures. Saying that something works for everybody (whether we should all get married or we should all not get married) is the same type of thinking, essentially, and it is of no use. We all have options and, even more importantly, anthropology has shown how different cultures have come up with a wide range of choices on this subjet over time. In my mind, the ideal situation would be that we all become aware of the options that we have and that we are given the tools, by our culture, to figure out what we want and how we can get there. Child raising can work in different ways, although it is clear that it works better if you do not get married or have just one steady partner but are surrounded by a village helping you raise your child than by being all alone. All alone is not the way we evolved.

  20. Joe Sparks says:

    As soon as we have a rational society, we're going to say openly to people, "Please don't have children until you're prepared to be good, warm loving parent to them and not pass on any of your hurts".People will hear us if we say that right. And boy, the birth rate's going to drop awfully fast, because it takes getting rid of your hurts first to keep from passing them on to the children. A lot of the urge now to have children is simply loneliness. For many women it's the first time they've had somebody they could be really close to, and they tell you this: "My little baby, he's mine………Mmmmmmmm, how good he smells, or something like that. Well babies are that nice. But a lot of this is just loneliness. Actually, there are so darn many children waiting for parents, waiting to be adopted, that there's no need to push the population. We've got to clean up the environment and allow the planet to flourish again. We should not be under any kind of pressure to get married.

  21. […] knew very little about the lives, experiences and lessons of the adults that raised me beyond that most of them got divorces, that they experienced war, revolution, drugs and music in some way that they didn’t like to talk […]

  22. I am two years into marriage after a five year ‘courtship’…and marriage has changed everything! I am questioning the entire institution for sure! Thank you for your article and all it leaves to thought.

    • Kalika says:

      I never wanted to get married. It's the only time in my life I succumbed to pressure and I believe it was a big mistake.

  23. […] in the media, and yet I feel there is more to add. So while everyone else is speculating about Why I Am Not Married, I thought I’d add my two […]

  24. keishua says:

    I can relate. I am not really thinking I want to get married. I do want to have a committed relationship but I don't think marriage is for me. When I say this people, think I am going through a phase or crazy. I just don't like the straight jacket that hetro-normative relationship means and it just seems to put on a lot of perfection pressure for everyone.

  25. ara.t.howard says:

    it's nice to have fun. enjoy it.

    when little people, or old people, are depending on you you will feel differently. and that's ok.

  26. […] Top 10 Elephant Blogs about the Proud & Fragile Institution of Marriage. […]

  27. Nancy says:

    A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, my viewpoint was this: I believed that, if a couple wanted to have children, they should be in a serious, committed relationship. I suspected that, if a person was hesitant to legally marry, then there was a good possibility that they lacked that level of commitment.

    Been there, done that.

    I probably continued to feel the same way right up until the time of my divorce.

    I would never, ever get married again, and I question the need for marriage to legitimize a relationship and children. For the first eight or nine years of my marriage, I envisioned being married "'til death do us part." That didn't stop me from eventually realizing that I was in a seriously damaging situation. However, being married made it difficult and costly to get out; a vindictive partner will think nothing of destroying the entire family financially just to make a point. I look at the parents of my son's friend, who never married, lived together for ten or twelve years, then separated; how is their situation different from mine, other than not having bankrupted themselves with legal fees?

    People will say, "you should have known what he was like before you married him." Sorry, you can't truly know a person until you've lived with them for ten years and even then they can surprise you by doing horrible things you'd never thought them capable of. There are difficulties getting out of a relationship whether you're married or not, but I guarantee they're worse if you're married!

    On the other hand, I can't say that marriage isn't the right choice for someone else. That is their personal decision. I'm just saying that, for me, there is no reason I can find to marry again.

    Before I close, I would like to gently encourage the author to examine some of her arguments in points number 1 and 2. The "giving away by a man", the white dress and dream wedding– those things have everything to do with "having a wedding" and very little to do with actual marriage. You can go down to city court and get married by the judge after the previous night's arraignments; you can have a JP marry you in the back yard with your grad school housemates as witnesses; you can have a wedding in a beautiful park where the bride and groom walk alone from opposite sides and meet in the middle; you can have your mother walk you down the aisle because your father wasn't present during your upbringing. Marriage is a legal commitment, and whether you want to be "given away" by a man while wearing a billowy white dress really has nothing to do with it.

  28. Tabablabadingdong says:

    Upon reading your article, my first thought was; “Wow! This is exactly what I thought about marriage when I was in my teens and early twenties!” I am now 30 and engaged and guess what?!?! I wanted it. I wanted family. My bio fam. lives over 1,000 miles away and we don’t have the same, or even similar, values or lifestyles. But I met a man who I love and his family is one that I feel I am already apart of. This is truly comforting to me and taking his name (yes! I’m taking his name!) gives me an even greater connection to this family I’m becoming apart of. So, I just want to say that there are many reasons for getting married and many of them have nothing to do with the reasons you listed not to. FTR, I still agree with many of your points, but they are no longer points that serve to polarize me on the issue of marriage. Instead, I am living my values by doing it differently. Marriage is a journey that is different for everyone, and I am choosing to allow my values and my heart discern the course of my relationship which is soon becoming a marriage. I hope that as we wake up we can have conscious relationships with all beings and that we can respect the roots and the limbs of our giant family tree!

    • Pablo Mago says:

      You're not getting married, you're being adopted. It appears to me that you want to be a part of a family in a way that's denied to you by your bio family. I have no problem with that but I think that's what's at the core of your decision to be married.

  29. Jim says:

    Yeah, to get married, you have to love and care about someone more than you do yourSELF. It's not for everyone. Some people would rather remain self-centered, vain, angry and free to be promiscuous but ultimately alone.

    • Yogatchr says:

      Right…or you can get married because you fear being abandoned and want to control another person. And people that get married never have sex with other people, aren't angry and abusive, and always honor their obligations to their spouses and children. But hey…at least they are not alone which is the worst thing in the world. Or not.

      • Jaimee says:

        Spot on.

      • lisab says:

        I don't even think Jim was talking about being alone in the literally sense at all. Marriage is about selflessness, compromise, all those things. Or it should be. How about we point the finger at immature, selfish, emotional stunted human beings for not making marriages last? It's not marriage. And hell, these days you can get divorced in a couple of months. So whatever… people suck at relationships and that's what needs changing.

    • Amanda F says:

      or marry so that you can be self-centered, vain, and angry by having someone else to take it out on, make them do the household chores, wait on you, etc. And legally feel obliged. Oh, and shall I include: feel morally superior. Like you.

    • lisab says:

      Right on Jim.

  30. Anna says:

    Great Article! Makes people think. I posted on fb, but also would like to share.
    Reasons to get married: If you want to quit your job & your partner have insurance, so your family would stop bugging the s#t out of you. If you die, your partner gets nice settlement – that's it.
    I do realize that this is very my very personal feelings and not necessarily shared with most of the women.
    P.S. not married & in the happiest relationship if my life for almost 10 years, contemplating on child production in the nearest future…

  31. Yogatchr says:

    AMEN!!! I tried it. It was horrible. Patriarchy is so deeply assimilated into our culture and institutions that even though it was clear I am a feminist and a highly independent person, I was supposed to be "his". Gross. I too am in a long term relationship where we are together by choice and I do not need marriage to make us legitimate.

  32. melissa says:

    I think the thing that made this article hard to read is that the tone seems so angry. While I agree with some of what you have said here, you make it sound like if you get married you have no choice but to have a cookie cutter wedding, and if you want a cookie cutter wedding you are wrong, or you are a bad feminist, or you must be crazy. "Perhaps it’s because the institution of marriage is not for everyone. And it’s about time we all accept it, and accept the people who don’t want to do it—even and especially if we happen to be one of those people." well, that is all fine and dandy, but you need to accept that some people do want to get married. your wedding ceremony can be whatever you want it to be. a ceremony doesn't make a wedding legal anyway. its all about the paperwork. i could get married in a leopard print leotard while jumping on a trampoline, and instead of "you may now kiss the bride" they could say, "hey! you two can now high-five!" it can be whatever you want it to be! and you know what? if my fiance was on his death bed and we werent married, and i wasnt allowed to be in there, it would kill me!

    as far as the divorce rate and people not having successful marriages… i do think it is because people get married for the wrong reasons. but in my opinion, the wrong reasons are things like… getting married when you are 18 and have no life experience. grow up first! or getting married because you knocked someone up.

    • Judy says:

      You really, really need to be a wedding planner, Melissa! That image of the trampoline high-five will stick with me and make me smile every time I think of it! So, thank you for that.

  33. […] If that didn’t sway me, Krystal might. […]

  34. Lilly McMurder says:

    Nice article, only one thing is nagging at me. The comment about Kathleen Hanna getting married for insurance benefits is entirely inaccurate. I’m sure a woman who has her own career and involvement with various things such as teaching classes doesn’t marry a famous Beastie Boy for insurance purposes. Plus it wasn’t a 90’s movement it started in the 80’s and carried through. You should probably check facts out unless you know her personally.

  35. married says:

    I was in a committed relationship for 10 years of my life. Now I have been married for two with another woman. In my experience marriage has done a HUGE difference on how I feel and treat my partner. It is that sacred ceremony in which we both went through a spiritual transformation which we have shared and nourrished for the past 2 years that has made a difference for me.
    I am not saying it that in my previous relationship we were not committed or we loved each other. I am just saying that there was a paradigm shift for me when we took the steps to make it "sacred". There are no warranties… ever. Marriage like any other relationship has to be nourrished daily, otherwise it can go down the drain quickly. What I am saying is that for me marriage gave it an extra dimension that wasn't there before. An excitement and a feeling of respect that is way much deeper than when I was in that other relationship. The reason why my other relationship ended was because we clinched to our feelings of love, yet we kept hurting each other. There was no real respect. There was love, yes, but the commitment to honor and respect each other was not there.
    Again I agree with many of the points raised here… but what I agree most with is that it is a personal choice. In Europe in fact very few people want to marry. In my circle of friends it is a taboo… nobody believes in relationships "forever" anymore. Most of my friends are terrified just by the thought of it. So the pressure here is the other way around. My own divorced father always told me "never marry! it is a huge mistake." Yet, so far I have proved him wrong. Marriage has been the best decision I have made in my life so far. I couldn't be happier.

  36. Jason Gan says:

    Marriage is some kind of business proposition… that I don't understand yet.

  37. YouAreFullOfCrap says:

    Closeted Lesbian more like it!

    • Yogatchr says:

      Wow. Classic patriarchal dude maneuver.

    • Elle says:

      I am an out and proud queer woman and what you say is idiotic.

      p.s. It's 2012, and lesbian is no longer a slur, nor do we hide in shame for desiring members of our own gender. In fact, we've made amazing progress in the LGBT community over the past decade. In 2000, no states had marriage, and in 2012, six states and D.C. do, with more on their way.

      So get with the times!

  38. lucas rockwood says:

    You have a very stereotypical view of marriage and relationships and children. Or perhaps you have a very stereotypical social group. Either way, that’s just you, not the real world. I don’t know anyone with a marriage like you describe. I can see how it might look that way from the outside though. There’s a phase of life that is optional, where you become a parent instead of a kid. It’s a really big perspective shift and lots of the things that seemed absolutely ridiculous and old fashioned suddenly make sense and the teenage angst fades. Life has phases. Just ask any elderly person if they’d rather be married or single… actually don’t bother. You already know the answer. If you’re not into it, that’s cool. But people forget you can be a feminist and get married. There is nothing more powerful in this world than a strong mum. And you can also get married without a church or the state involved (as I did). And insurance costs a hell of a lot more than $500/year for a family.

    • Elle says:

      I agree that her article does not jibe with how the real world works. Like you, we got married without the typical frippery and we have no religious affiliation – unless his agnosticism and my prayer to the Dead Rock Star Valhalla counts, which I don't believe they do…

      At the same time, I sense some judgment present in your comment, where you insinuate that parenthood is more noble than non-parenthood. I think that at present, America is a society where fetuses are valued, but actual parents (and their children) are not valued at all. I also think it is somewhat taboo, still, for women to admit (as I now do openly – I see no sense in cowering in shame because of how I am naturally) that they don't like or want kids. Even childless women like myself sometimes feel pressured to coo over a baby while in our heads, we're thinking, "Thank the lord I don't have that ugly, squalling little shit box dependent on me!" just so we don't get stereotyped as nasty child-haters who upset baby carriages for fun.

      You can absolutely be an adult, emotionally, and mentally, and get past your teen angst without becoming a parent. Dozens of my peers in their 30s have managed to do it, and most times, so have I. And parents aren't universally mature or emotionally centered simply because they're parents. I need look no further than my own basket-case mum (or my husband's) – or the handful of women in my HS graduating class who got knocked up as teens, and they and the babys' fathers continued to party like parenthood never happened. In several cases, the teen parents' own parents (or siblings) wound up raising the babies.

      You do make an excellent point about insurance, however. It is definitely not cheap in America, especially if you need a plan that covers more people. And even if you're single and have a pre-existing condition, you're looking at about $700/month for a bare-bones plan in my state, which practices medical underwriting, and will continue to until Obamacare takes effect in about 19 months…if the bill isn't overturned before then. To cover a family here, a bare-bones plan is $1,200 a month. That's just not sustainable in an area with the average rent or mortgage skyrocketing to $850/month and the average personal salary under $35K.

  39. […] plan to be single for a while—maybe the rest of my life. This is not a dramatic statement made because I’m scared to get hurt again. It is a statement […]

  40. Elle says:

    To each his own. I respect your decision not to get married, but it seems just a bit as if you don't respect people who choose otherwise.

    My husband and I actually are both queer, and having been in relationships where I'd be denied healthcare, inheritance rights, and power of attorney, I knew that we had to get married because we needed and valued those benefits. And I was conscious of the fact that our marriage is not a traditional heterosexual one, even if it may seem that way at certain times – like when we are in formal dress and on our best straight-world behavior. Maybe you, your partner, or both of you are members of the LGBT community as well – I don't want to assume either way – but I assure you that you can have a totally queer marriage between a man and a woman and still have that marriage license. We've also slept with other women at times, so we're not monogamous either, in addition to not being straight. Yes, technically we are "committing adultery," but I sort of get a kick out of flouting the rules anyway.

    Other commenters touched on this already, but you can also get married in a way that skirts patriarchal tradition. We did a self-uniting ceremony and then went out dancing. No one gave me away, and no one called us "man and wife." I hate white – and ain't no virgin – so I wore all black, which is also one of my favorite colors.

    I agree that America's policymaking and rhetoric is overly concerned with future children (especially fetuses) at the expense of those of us who are alive today. However, whether I shunned or accepted marriage, this would still be true. My reproductive rights would still be up for grabs every election cycle. And the paternalistic, anti-sin, tinged-with-Christianity, conservative social culture of America would not change regardless.

    Finally, I do not know enough about Kathleen Hanna's personal situation to say whether you are right or wrong about her marrying for the insurance. However, my husband and I both have pre-existing health conditions, and have both gone without insurance for years. Certainly, the US healthcare system needs to be reformed – far beyond the not-ideal reform bill passed by the Pelosi-led congress – but if a person needs healthcare and has a legal, above-board mechanism for acquiring it, why not? You only have one life, so taking care of your health while you can is a wonderful privilege.

  41. […] until my brother got married did I realize that not everyone grew up in a loud “Ma where’s the cereal!” household […]

  42. […] I can stop making this list because it’s already been written here, here and […]

  43. Tracy says:

    You seem to have very strong feelings on the subject. So much so, that you refuse to attend your friends' weddings. Not that it matters, but I certainly support your viewpoint and your personal decisions, though if I were your close friend, I would be very insulted if you refused to attend my wedding.
    I believe in marriage- not every marriage and not because you "have to."
    I believe that it is a challenging life and to pledge your forever to another willing, faithful person gives you a much stronger chance of success. Though I recognize gender disparities and all the other gross stuff that comes along with it, I don't think that they need to detract from a loving, committed, give and take relationship…for better or worse, in sickness and in health.
    I know that everything that I am willing to give is priceless and I want the person sharing my life to make that pledge as well.
    I am fully aware that many people take such a pledge lightly, but that is beside the point. That's akin to saying that you'd never buy a car because some are lemons.
    A relationship of convenience is merely…convenient. I am 41 years old with two children. In case you haven't learned this yet, I'm here to tell you that life is far from convenient.
    When I chose to marry, I pledged forever to my husband, convenient or not. I did not take that pledge lightly and neither has he. We have been up and down and in and out and everything in between over the past 17 years as husband and wife. We've stayed fast together throughout all of it.
    Though my marriage was sanctioned by the government and a church, if I could have neither, I would have demanded that we pledge ourselves in front of family and friends. It is the public pledge that does matter, even if foolish people belittle their own marriages.
    I've joked (but not really joking) that my marriage is like a street gang: blood in, blood out. We have been through many challenges and there have been times we might have run in the opposite direction had we not made those vows.
    I am eternally grateful that we made them.
    Life is not all about youth and health and sex. It's also about sickness, depression, lay-offs and many other not-so-great moments. If I am willing to give that to someone- male or female- then that partner had better damn well promise to give them to me.
    Life is about balance and I'm not a fan of sitting in the middle of a see-saw by myself.
    You are absolutely entitled to choose to avoid making vows with anyone, but I caution you to open your mind…just in case. There have been many ideals that I've tempered over the years and I suspect that this may be one you may revisit in time. That is not a condescension, but a strong hope for the greatest love and support I've ever been privileged to celebrate.
    It is certainly okay if you don't, but I would at least recommend that you not be so negative about others who choose to make such a choice.
    You don't know me and I don't know you. I promise that this is not a judgment and there is certainly no reason for you to care about my opinion at all. I just wanted to make the point that marriage…the commitment of two people to live their lives…as sticky as those lives might become, together is nothing to be disdained and avoided at all costs.

  44. G says:

    Love it Krystal! Very logical!

  45. Loverly says:

    Top 5 reason’s to get married:

    (1) You want to spend the rest of your life with someone. It happens, and when it does it’s like jumping naked into a glacier lake. Holy fuck. Side note- it is just as possible to love someone without feeling this way, and also possible to spend the rest of your life with someone without getting married. It’s interesting that you don’t see the latter too often. See number 2.
    (2) You’re an escape artist. I think most of us are. And by escape I mean inner as much as outer. It’s difficult to hide from yourself when the same person is smelling your morning breath for 20 years. When things get uncomfortable, and they will,you’ll be thankful you made that promise. Unless he/she turns out to be a total douche– then you’ll be thankful your brother is a lawyer.
    (3) You don’t believe in happily ever after. Those that think marriage is about fairytale romance are doomed. Happiness blossoms through getting to know yourself. See number 2.
    (4)You enjoyed being single. Waking up at 2pm covered in maple syrup wearing nothing but dog collar was fun and all but… oh wait. That just happened last week with my husband. Never mind.
    (5) You know that nobody’s perfect and you don’t give a shit. There is perfection in imperfection. What a relief.

    OK I’ll add one more:

    (6) You are free. If you file ‘marriage’ under the old cliche of ‘pains of patriarchy’ (yawn) you are as much of a sucker as the people you judge in your writing. Marriage is a promise, it has nothing to do with church or state. It can be anything you want it to be.

  46. MatBoy says:

    Today's society offers each of us more choices than ever before about how we live our lives. The institution of marriage comes from an historical context much different from our own and was geared firstly at survival, procreation and better health. Even if people lived in smaller tribal communities, procreation still only involved two people. I think there is probably a genetic predisposition for wanting to nurture your own progeny so that your genes can make it into the next generation; remember, birth control is a recent thing.

    As for all that love and 'happily ever after' stuff, if you look back into history, it was not the most important thing (see the list above). Some couples hit it off well, other fought – just like today. Our modern media has made too big a factor out of the experience of 'bliss' for lack of a better word and many people feel they must find it in their relationships or they are missing out on life. Tracking down bliss in a relationship is a futile as tracking down a meaningful bliss experience out of a bottle of wine or drug.

    There is no right or wrong way to live; being married is not better or worse than not being married in and of itself. Life will present us challenges which enable us to grow – it just keeps coming at you. This is true no matter how or where you live. What is more important is your relationships to the challenges that you confront in life: how you meet and engage with them. This develops a 'spiritual' center from which you can approach life. Do you remain a 'good' person in the face of frustration and confrontation, do you lose your center? A spouse and kids can get under your skin regularly and give you a constant flow of challenges. If you invest your time in your family, wanting them to have as much health and goodness as they can, you just may take the challenges they present more seriously, you may begin to deepen your self-reflection.

    Caring deeply about somethings, some causes and about some other people in your life is a good starting point for emotional and spiritual growth. The marriage context is a tried and proven method for anyone to engage more deeply in life. It is not the only way, it may not always be the best way, but it's potential is huge. Drawing a line in the sand is always better than 'just being free'. The marriage commitment at least slows down our 'flight' response when we are faced with adversity; what you do after that is up to you. How you handle you life determines your experience, not the contents or particulars of your lifestyle.

    • MatBoy says:

      I guess I should explain that I have been married, both happily and unhappily, for 28 years; our kids are grown and on their own.

      I think it would be interesting to be able to go into the mind of couples who have been together for a long period and compare the number and intensity of spousal homicide fantasies with those of sexual fantasies about the same person. Now that would be an interesting topic!

  47. Iris Josephina says:

    i totally feel what you are saying (: but sometimes things change drastically… my story: i had the same ideas as you have, until i met my beautiful partner. he lives in the USA, i'm from Holland..and if we really want to be together and have a future together, we'll have to make compromises and maybe even obey rules set by society..and get married..because in Holland and the USA this is a rule if the other person wants to live there permanently. i totally understand what you are saying, and i do agree.. but sometimes life unfolds differently (((: thank you for sharing!

  48. […] Obviously when a couple creates a child there are obligations that require them to stay united in some capacity until that baby becomes an adult, but aside from thwarting men from planting their seeds willy-nilly and scurrying off to fresher pastures (which many marriages fail to do nonetheless), I think it’s safe to say that the institution, in general, has out-lived its purpose. […]

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