I have been thinking about marriage lately.
Mostly because I have found an amazing partner I would love to share the rest of my life with.
One day, he told me one day that he did not really understand the importance of marriage, and it confused me.
I was confused because I knew how true his feelings were and how we saw our future together. But he did not see how that was related to marriage.
Why should we get married?
No, really. Why?
Indeed, marriage seems to be an outdated concept, something our parents talk about and expect of us, the more “forward-thinking” folks.
On a logical level, it seems to just be a piece of paper or a vow in a place of prayer.
It feels like a rule society and religion has imposed on us.
So, why do we -I mean, I- still need it so bad?
Why does the idea of never getting married fill us with dread?
Some people make if clear that marriage is off the table.
Some don’t care if it ever happens or not (my boyfriend being one of those).
Many people are scared of it failing even if they want to make it work.
Not an illogical fear considering the high divorce rates.
This leads to arguments about whether couples should even get married in the first place.
But we do. We still do.
Because marriage, or at least the concept of marriage, means more than only promising love and loyalty to each other.
And even though we might not consciously be aware of this, our guts and our minds know it!
Here are 5 hard truths about marriage.
1. Marriage creates a solid foundation
Marriage is a way to show that you are taking this relationship seriously and want to build a family.
Alain de Botton, writer, researcher and philosopher, believes that we should rid ourselves of the romantic idea that we marry for unconditional love.
Love is not unconditional.
In fact, long-term love is very conditional.
Look at your favorite old couple. Pay attention to the way they talk to each other and how they act. Chances are, you will see a lot of compromises, nagging and, calling each other out on their flaws.
Actually, there is a famous interview where a reporter asked an old couple how they managed to stay married for 65 years.
“We were born in a time when if something was broken, we would fix it, not throw it away…”
Marriage is about accepting the responsibility of taking this difficult route together.
Why do it then, if it’s hard?
Because, even if, as human beings we are flawed, we still crave companionship.
The problem is not marriage.
The actual problem is the expectation one has when married.
Romanticizing the relationship and hoping that, somehow, the partner should understand you without you communicating; he or she should strive to make you happy; he or she should love you unconditionally and never criticize you are all unrealistic expectations to have in a marriage.
It is not so much who we love and marry, but more, how we love and marry.
Ancient Greek philosophers understood this well. They perceived love and marriage as a way to educate each other to be better versions of themselves. If lovers go into marriage with this idea, then marriage can be a foundation to grow into better people and build a healthy family.
“ There is no-one more likely to destroy us than the person we marry,” — Alain de Botton
2. Marriage can be an official introduction to your circle
Marriage, or the wedding, is a great way to introduction the person you love to your circle.
Your circle may be your family or best friends or both.
Having an event, that reunites all these important people, to officially add your partner to this circle, is an efficient way of announcing that “this is the one”!
But wedding talk can easily go south. For various reasons.
You should focus on how exactly you want your wedding to be, and not what is expected of you.
This is your day, and nobody else’s. It is important to note here that “you” is implying 2 adults, not only one.
Often, one partner (which, let’s face it, is usually the bride) gets her way in all of the wedding decisions, leaving the other partner to be a puppet or actor on the day.
And feeling like a puppet is not fun. Especially if that puppet has to splash out thousands of dollars.
Too many days are spent planning the wedding, ensuring everything is in order for the day, rehearsing the dinner, rehearsing the whole ceremony, and inviting people you have not spoken to in years just so that there is no post-wedding gossip.
Unfortunately, this leads to high expenses, stress and drama.
Take a breathe and reflect on what the purpose of this day truly is.
If you can communicate this clearly with each other — that you are in this together and ready to compromise- you got yourself a beautiful wedding and the start of a beautiful marriage.
3. Don’t get married for external reasons
Marriage and ceremonies are an interesting and beautiful part of many people’s culture.
It is a time of celebration and blessings and good vibes.
In some cultures, it shows that a person has succeeded in finding the right partner and is now starting a new chapter of their life.
But there is a dark side to this.
A couple who is not embracing marriage can be judged negatively by the society they belong to.
This can affect one of the partners, or both, if they don’t actually believe in these traditions or rituals.
On top of that, we have societal rules and peer pressure.
Women are often judged for not “tying him down”. They are told that they are foolish for trusting him, without marrying him, as he may “ walk away at any moment”. If he does not want to get married, he is “deceiving” or a “player”.
Bottom line: He does not love you.
Culturally, women, in some parts of the world, are still expected to secure a husband as this is a form of respect and validation in society.
Interracial and intercultural couples suffer the most as one of the partner often submits to the pressure of the other’s culture to maintain peace in the relationship.
If this kind of tension arises, it is important to discuss the necessity of marriage in your relationship.
As a couple, you do not want marriage to threaten the bond that exists between you.
Discussing each other’s cultural beliefs, needs and what your boundaries are, can help you grow stronger.
Together, you can figure out if you are doing this for you or for others. If your beliefs are strong and genuine, chances are your partner will understand and find a way to make you both happy.
After all, you are best friends.
“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.” — Friedrich Nietzsche
4. Marriage is still a proof of true love
The reasons for marriage have evolved over the years.
Marriage was once a business transaction (maybe in exchange of a plot of land, or an entire Kingdom), for financial security, because of an unexpected pregnancy, for religion, or for societal acceptance.
Today, as the world becomes more progressive, women enjoy equal opportunities to work and technology makes life so much easier, people who choose to get married often do so for a simple reason: love.
Love marriages encourage people to believe in an ideal world where everything can work out when we trust and forgive each other.
Marriage is like living in a perfect bubble where you and your partner decide the rules you want to live by together.
Although, this may sound illogical to the logical mind, love itself, or, rather, true love, has always been nonsensical.
“To be fully seen by somebody, then, and be loved anyhow — this is a human offering that can border on miraculous.” — Elizabeth Gilbert
5. Marriage is a prison- but the good kind.
Marriage allows you to act upon promises made to each other.
It makes you strive everyday to defy the odds and protect the relationship.
It creates some kind of prison that locks you in a cell with this person you love and forces you to think twice before walking away from him or her.
Indeed, if you were not married, how easy would it have been to just leave when things get tough?
Easy, way too easy.
And when you are angry, frustrated, tired, or bored, it is hard to remind yourself that this person you are stuck with is actually, or was, at one point in your life, your best friend and confident.
After all, we are only human. And life can get hard at times.
Breaking up is easy. But breaking a marriage is not.
It forces you to think twice before leaving. It allows you to reflect and remind yourself of the love that has bonded two people.
Getting separated feels more real than just a break-up text. Because it is.
And although there are valid reasons to separate and divorce is not a crime, marriage can help us re-evaluate our own feelings before making such a big decision.
I have always found marriage to be a fascinating concept.
People who are choosing it no longer have the pressures that once existed (or at least, not as much as before).
Being an idealistic person, I personally believe in marriage.
I believe in living in that bubble with the one I love and doing my best to make it work.
I also recognize it as a way to “lock” me into my relationship and stop me from making emotional decisions I might regret.
However, the more practical minds might not agree.
Some think that they have enough self control and wisdom to make a relationship work without labeling it or signing any contract.
And that’s OK.
But if you recognize that marriage is about two individuals, not one, then you are one step closer to figuring it out.
I sure am still figuring all this out.
Do you still think marriage is important? What are your reasons?
PS: I wrote about my experience in Cambodia and how it was the country that touched me the most! Here is link to the Ugly Truth about Cambodia