To start, if you aren’t dating someone, you shouldn’t be thinking of marriage.
Dating is supposed to be a way to determine if the person you are with is the person you want to be with for all time. If you can imagine a future without that person, you shouldn’t be dating them – in my opinion, you shouldn’t be “stringing them along” either, but that’s a bigger issue.
Thus, the primary focus of this post is: why should I get married?
1. True Equality
Both parties in the marriage share the burden of life. You share your home, your life, your future – maybe even your name. You make decisions together and choose your path together. You fail together and you succeed together. True equality in the eyes of god(s) and men.
Unfortunately, the primary argument I have heard against this is “I don’t need to get married for people to know that myself and my partner are equal. And I don’t need the approval of strangers or outsiders anyway – so why does marriage matter.” My response is: it’s not about them – those strangers and outsiders or even friends and family. You choose to be married because you love the one you’re with, and you want to have them tied with you forever.
2. Shared Finances
Regardless of who makes more money, you are equal in the eyes of the law once you are married. Whether both parties are working or not, the total income of the household will determine what loans you can get, how many children you can afford to raise, and even what kind of future you can pursue. You don’t have to do any of those things, but once married, you can choose together where your finances will go.
Side note: There are many entities (banks, insurance, health, etc.) that won’t recognize your partner if you aren’t married. If some unforeseen tragedy befalls one of you, there is no way to protect yourself – you have no leg to stand on, so to speak.
3. It’s Forever
When I think of marriage, I equate it to forever and always rather than a passing fancy.
There is a mindset that has evolved regarding marriage: that marriage statistically ends in divorce. Perhaps it’s true, but I don’t think it should be held up as reasoning to not get married. You don’t get married to get divorced, you get married because you want to be married.
I think the same thing of a child, I equate children to forever and always rather than a passing fancy.
Today, we face a lingering culture that focused on “love and marriage” and the chant “first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage.” Folks are stubborn and don’t like to be told what to do, so they argue that they are going against the status quo. But these phrases and chants weren’t thinking about the people, they were thinking of the children.
Children you have are forever and they depend on you to guide them. Do they have both parents in their lives forever? Well, if the parents got married thinking of marriage, then yes. But if the parents get married and decide to give up and divorce, then no. Or if the parents never got married at all, then the child will grow up with a primary parent and a secondary parent who may not be in the picture at all except for a monthly stipend – to a child, they eventually think they’re only worth what their paid for, and if that is nothing, then they think they are worth nothing.
Kids take what their parents do and say, and internalize it. They are influenced positively and negatively from you. What message will you give them? That it’s better to experience life alone? Or that you are stronger together?
To me, the latter is what marriage ultimately is: we are stronger together, we will do more together, and we will live more together.
p.s. if it’s the cost of a wedding that you’re worried about, then I say just go to the court house and forget the pomp and circumstance altogether.