Growing up, it was easy to believe that the one and only reason people marry is for love.
The movies made it look simple: a couple fall in love, overcome a minor setback, get married, and live happily ever after.
Oh, how deceptive! And no, I’m not a bitter divorcee, although I am divorced; I was already cynical about marriage prior to my own. I’m actually less so now than when I was younger.
Life experience has taught me that marriage can and does last—for many couples. It isn’t as easy as two people falling in love, getting married, and staying married though.
Now, in my 40s, having heard from friends, family, and acquaintances, I’ve realised that while people offer a multitude of reasons for choosing to marry, the following five encompass them all:
Hope is what we feel and see in romantic films, books, and songs—it’s the destiny, the fairy tale. When someone says that they’re marrying for love, their decision is made in the hope that their love will last.
Others choose marriage out of desire for change or improvement, the belief that this commitment will make their relationship better or bring them closer.
I’ve heard fear described as the flip side of the coin to hope, and often where there is one, the other is lurking, consciously or otherwise.
We might choose marriage because we fear being alone or worry that our partner will end the relationship if we don’t.
Our upbringing and beliefs may have created a sense of obligation to meet another’s needs, please our family, or marry before having sex, a child, or living together.
4. The Law
There are financial implications, tax savings, and health insurance packages that benefit married couples over those who live together, and while this wouldn’t be healthy if the sole reason to enter into marriage, it could be a significant factor.
Border restrictions and immigration laws affect a great number of people, and as love doesn’t respect legal boundaries, marriage may be the only option if a couple wishes to live in the same country.
5. Their Castle
Matthew Hussey, an internationally renowned relationship coach, uses an analogy of a relationship being like a castle, which each couple build together.
Once they’ve established a magnificent structure with solid foundations and a shared vision for future developments, they may want to make a life-long commitment to it.
Despite the frustrating overuse of this song in proposal videos on social media, marriage is not an impulsive, romantic decision to be made on a night when you’re “looking for something dumb to do.”
“Until death do us part,” requires vulnerability and complete honesty with ourselves as well as our spouse. It means choosing to share our lives with our partner every single day.
I believe that often, many of the above will influence our decision to marry, and, blended, this could be healthy; the first four reasons alone though, will be unlikely to create a long-term fulfilling union.
If I ever say, “I do” again, it’ll be for reason five. It’ll be because I love what we’ve already built together as much as I love who my partner is, and how they make me feel.