- Category: Love and Relationship Readings
- Last Updated on April 07, 2013
- Written by Mark Blair
Some people manage to have long-term relationships without ever getting married. Others date for a few weeks, get married and stay together for years. What is the difference in these relationships and how do couples decide whether marriage is a part of their future?
The Cultural Reasons
Marriage has been around for thousands of years. Every culture has their own interpretation of marriage and the people in that culture have their own interpretation. Some people decide that to meet the cultural expectations of the community, marriage must be a part of their lives. The motivation comes from a couple's strong desire to be an integral part of that culture.
As cultures and communities evolve, people experiment with traditions. More than ever, couples now live in committed relationships without getting married. Peoples' attitudes evolve quicker than the cultural traditions they are surrounded by. In the US, there is a rise in the number of first-child births before first-time marriages occur. This seems to indicate that the importance of marriage for family reasons is changing.
The Practical Reasons
There are some interesting practical benefits to marriage that may sway couples into doing that when they may prefer to stay un-married. In the US there are federal and state benefits to marriage. This affects taxes and some social security benefits. Employers may have policies that favor married couples. Usually this is related to health benefits and retirement savings. The school system and other organizations may also have policies written that expect a couple to be married.
One practical reason for not being married is the effort it might take to become un-married. Divorce can sometimes be a costly and painful process. An unmarried couple has a daily choice of staying together or not. The actual act of marriage can place a burden on couples that makes them avoid difficult discussions that they really should have. If not discussed, frustrations could build to a point where a divorce seems less painful than continuing the relationship.
The Commitment Reasons
For some, the act of marriage is primarily a sign of commitment. This is a way for couples to publicly express to each other the desire to stay together for a lifetime. Some couples may choose to create a "commitment" ceremony that is not as formal as a marriage ceremony. Others consider marriage as the ultimate way to show the community that they are committed to each other.
For some, commitment is not something that the community is a part of. It is a private matter, between two people. They may perform some ceremony in the privacy of their own home, or may not feel that it is at all necessary. Commitment to some is a part of the growth that two people share together in a relationship.
Which One For You?
Marriage or not? This is a different discussion for each couple. How will friends and family react to the choice? Are there now or will there ever be children? What is the job and financial status of the couple? Has either person been married before? Will there be regrets years down the road if the married path is not chosen?
These are some good questions to start the conversation with. Being married or not needs to be a joint decision by the couple. It is a big decision that will affect them for years so it's one in in which each needs to have an equal vote.