I am at an age where nearly all my friends are married or have been at some point in their lives. (I myself got married 6 years ago.)
A number of those who are still married are either in the process of splitting up or are already on their second or third marriage.
Despite the statistics on divorce, I still am a romantic at heart. I truly believe in love. I believe there are very valid reasons to get married, even though critics will point out that love and marriage are not necessarily the same things.
When it comes to the decisions people make, especially when it involves decisions that involve their personal lives, I tend to believe it is a good idea not to give advice unless they explicitly ask for it.
However, there are some reasons not to get married and below are some of the ones I have heard over and over again from people who have chosen to discuss their failed marriages and what they replied when asked, “Why did you get married?”
Without further ado, here they are, and please note that they apply to everyone male or female, gay or straight, etc. who has ever considered marriage.
1. Because you’re 25, 35, 45, etc. and everyone else is doing it.
Yeah, sometimes it can feel like you are the only single person on earth. Even the most confident person can wonder why the hell it seems that everyone else from their former college roommate to death row inmates are getting married, but they are not. However, getting married for the above-reason is not a good reason to get married.
Also, if you believe that you will never get married, then remember that even Attlia the Hun got married and most people eventually do at some point in their life. In fact, if you end up never getting married, you can spin it and make it so you appear special and unique because statistically speaking, you are.
2. Because someone cites a book, study, etc. citing the benefits of marriage.
Yeah, there are numerous things out there touting the benefits of marriage. I don’t doubt them, but I would bet these conclusions are based on people who are happily married or at the very least, have a certain level of satisfaction within their marriage. I seriously doubt that those who are unhappy are reaping much of the rewards or even if they are, they are small in comparison to the drawbacks.
I have never taken a one-size-fits-all-approach to anything and strongly feel that there are some people who are better off not getting married or being in a committed relationship for a number of reasons-they fear commitment, they cannot and will not compromise or even considering putting anyone before themselves, or they simply do not want to marry for any number of personal and political reasons.
If you fall into any of these categories, do yourself and others a favor and do not marry. There are a ton of miserable married people and likewise, there are a ton of truly happy single people. Getting married is not magic and will not turn who falls in the miserable category into the happy.
3. Because you want to have a baby.
This tends to be far more applicable to women than men. It may not be fair, but those of us with XX chromosomes have a biological clock, and the ticking can become unbearable loud once a woman reaches a certain age. Wanting a baby is normal and natural for a lot of women, but please take some time to think about the person you decide to have a baby with. Yeah, he may be stable, have a good job, etc., but are you prepared to have this person in your life forever even if you split?
If the answer is no, then please do not have a baby with him. Having a child means that you are bond to another person for life. Even if you never see them again, the child that the two of you make is a constant reminder of him.
Also, you don’t have to get married to have a baby. Choosing to be a single parent by choice-esp. choosing to be one where they is no father involved at all like using an anonymous sperm donor or adopting as a single parent-is not without its drawbacks, but for some it may be a better option than marrying and dealing with the stuff that happens post-split which brings me to the following.
4. Because you feel, “Well, I can always divorce if it doesn’t work out.”
As a woman, I am forever grateful to live in a society where getting divorced is an option. Speaking as a child of divorce, I would argue until I am blue in the face that some people are better off divorced and in some cases it can lead to happier parents and children.
With that said, getting divorced is one of the biggest stressors that someone can undergo even if it a case where both parties mutually agree that they are better off going their separate ways. Add to this division of property, the emotional and financial expenses, and divorce is not something that one should enter into lightly.
Also, even if you do not own anything together and have no kids, in many states, including my current state of Virginia, it can take up to a year or more of a couple living independently and separately before a judge will issue a divorce decree. Many of my friends have said they did not feel completely free until they had that piece of paper in their hands.
If you want to go back to your maiden name, wish to marry someone else, etc., you have to wait until it is finalized. This can be a minor or major pain depending on the circumstances.
I believe 100% that the right partner can add to one’s life and allow one to feel that their live is fuller and more complete, but expecting that someone will complete you is never a good thing.
I try to avoid cliches whenever I can, but it is true that the only person who can complete you is you.
Granted, it isn’t easy. (God knows, I haven’t figured that one out yet.) However, depending on another person to make you feel loved, happy, attractive, etc. is not a good thing because there is a good chance that at some point they will not be in your life. Even if you are married until death due you part, there is a chance your spouse may die before you do and where does that leave you?
If you happen to be on the other end-that is, you are the person expected to complete someone else-you may find that it is a hard task. Overtime, it may even feel like a burden.
6. Because you crave money or security.
There is an old expression that if one marries for money, they usually end up deserving it. Having known women (and a few men) who married for money, I can say that this appears to be 100% true.
While many people I know would be appalled at the idea of marrying someone for their bank account, I have known quite a few who married for security or because “he seemed like he would be a good provider”.
I am not discounting the importance of money; it can provide a sense of security, buy a lot of things and provide people with options which is always a nice thing to have, but money cannot buy happiness. Anyone who doubts this need only to spend the afternoon in the lobby of a high-end law firm that does trust and estate planning to see that money does not buy happiness or for those that still aren’t convinced, then just pick up any weekly celebrity magazine to read the lives of the rich and screwed up .
Also, in many of the cases I have seen, marriages for money and/or security have disportionately been older men and younger women. I am the last person to think age is a barrier to love, but you only get to be young once. If you waste your 20s and/or 30s with someone whom you do not love, you may wake up one day and regret it.
Again, all the money in the world cannot buy back your youth and do you really want to risk being one of those women who tries to make up for her lost youth in her 40s by partying and hanging out with the young ‘uns? (I have seen men and women like I have described and it isn’t a pretty sight)
In conclusion, there are a number of reasons why people chose to get married. No one has a magic formula or can say for certain what makes a marriage work, but it may be possible to avoid a bad marriage if one takes an honest look at why they want to get married and what they expect from it.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise
Photo: Pixoto/Tina Stanley